Step Eleven

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact
with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of
His will for us and the power to carry that out.




STEP ELEVEN, PART 1

STEP ELEVEN, PART 2
STEP ELEVEN, PART 3
STEP ELEVEN, PART 4



STEP ELEVEN, PART 1

Hi friends.

My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.

Now that we are in recovery we have to act to improve our conscious contact with H.P., since unless we progress in our spiritual life, we begin to regress. The Big Book suggests prayer and meditation in working step 11.

"Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action. Step Eleven suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it. It would be easy to be vague about this matter. Yet, we believe we can make some definite and valuable suggestions." pages 85-86.

Let us review for a moment the kind of prayers that are suggested by the Big Book.

Third step prayer, page 63.

Fourth step resentment prayers, page 67 and page 552.

Fourth step fear prayer, page 68.

Fourth step ideals prayer, page 69.

Fourth step sex relations amends prayer, page 69.

Fourth step prayer for ideals, guidance, sanity and strength, page 70.

"We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better." page 75.

"We ask God to help us be willing." page 76.

The seventh step prayer page 76.

"We ask until it comes." page 76.

"We ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing." page 79.

"Each night pray about it, having the other one's happiness uppermost in mind." page 82.

" ... asking each morning that our Creator show us the way of patience kindness tolerance and love." page 83.

" ... we ask God at once to remove them." page 84.

" ... we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken." page 86.

"...We ask God to direct our thinking..." page 86.

" ... that we be shown all through the day..." page 87.

" ... ask for the right thought or action." page 87.

There is a world of difference between the prayers suggested by the Big Book and the prayers I used to say before I joined program. The kind of prayers I used to say then were:

"God get me out of this mess and I promise I will never do it again," promises that I certainly didn't keep.

"God let me do what I want (do my bidding), like winning the lottery or changing my wife's behavior or killing that s.o.b."

Of course those prayers were never answered and I concluded that prayer was a waste of time.

The Big Book guarantees that prayer does work if it is the right one.

"It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it." page 86.

So what is the proper prayer attitude? Step 11 says it is asking to know God's will for us, and asking for the power to carry it out, since even if we know what is God's will for us we sometimes don't have the power to carry it out, and we need God's help.

The Big Book tells us what God wants for us:

"We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous and free." page 133

As I understand it, free means free from the bondage of self. So generally God wants us to act according to our assets and not our liabilities, and thus be happy joyous and free.

The prayers quoted from the Big Book conform with the proper prayer attitude. Asking to know God's will, asking for the power to carry out God's will, asking for removal of defects so that we can act according to our assets, asking for the good of others, asking for tolerance patience and compassion, thanking God, etc.

But why always "God's will not mine be done?" Cannot I use my will, you may ask. Sure, I can use it to do God's will.

Here are the reasons as I understand them. Our perception of reality is limited. We may visualize reality as a picture puzzle with an infinite number of pieces. We see only very few of them which means that we don't see the whole picture and therefore cannot really know what is best for us. God's perception is unlimited. So God knows what actions we should take for our highest good. Since God is the embodiment of love, He wants for us the highest good that we would have wanted for ourselves if we could see the whole picture. Therefore conforming our will to God's will makes perfect sense, since by doing it we act for our highest good.

Prayer is the way we talk with God, but a relation with someone is a two way street. If we talk we should also listen to the other one's answer. The same is true for our relationship with God. There is the talking part which is the prayer and there is the listening part which is meditation.

Here are some quotes from the Big Book about meditation.

" ... I was to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and strength to meet my problems as He would have me." page 13.

" ... He has come to all who have honestly sought Him. When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us." page 57.

" ... In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come if we want it." page 69.

" ... We ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision." page 86.

" ... in your morning meditation..." page 164.

"We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come..." page 86.

These quotes give us some guidelines about meditation according to the Big Book.

Let me just arrange these guidelines in an order that is sensible to me. In the morning we begin our meditation by sitting quietly and relaxing. Then we ask God for guidance and direction on some matter or problem. Then we listen and wait for God's answers. They come as inspiration, intuitive thought or intuitive decision.

The AA cofounders used an expanded version of this meditation and called it QUIET TIME MEDITATION. They used to meet every morning and do the quiet time meditation together.

Here are specific suggestions for quiet time meditation, which is also called listening to God:

1. Find some place and time where you can be alone, quiet and undisturbed. Most people have found that the early morning is the best time. Have with you some paper and pen.

2. Sit in a comfortable position. Consciously relax all your muscles, you can do some deep breathing to facilitate relaxation. Be loose, there is no hurry.

3. Open your heart to God. Either silently or aloud, just say to God in a natural way that you would like to find His plan for your life - you want His answer to the problem or situation that you are facing right now. Be definite and specific in your request.

4. Just be still, quiet, relaxed and open. Let your mind go "loose." Let God do the talking. Thoughts ideas, and impressions will begin to come into your mind and heart. Be alert and aware and open to everyone.

5. WRITE DOWN everything that comes into your mind. EVERYTHING. Writing is simply a means of recording so that you can remember later. Don't sort out or edit your thoughts at this point. Don't try to direct your thinking. Just write down whatever comes to mind without trying to control anything.

Write down any kind of thought. Anything that passes your mind without omitting anything. It can be names of people, things to do, things to say, things that are wrong and need to be made right, good thoughts, bad thoughts, sensible thoughts, crazy thoughts, neutral thoughts - anything at all. Be honest - WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING - without directing your thoughts.

6. When the flow of thoughts slows down or when you feel that you have written enough, stop. Not every thought comes from God, so we need to test our thoughts. Here is where the written record helps us to be able to do so.

a) Have you written thoughts whose origins are fear, or dishonesty, or resentment, or selfishness?

Those are self-will thoughts. Draw a line on them.

b) Have you written some thoughts that are completely HONEST, PURE, UNSELFISH AND LOVING?

c) Have you written thoughts that are in line with our duties to our family - to our country?

d) Are these thoughts in line with your understanding of the teachings found in our spiritual literature?

Thoughts b), c), d), probably express guidance from God.

7. When in doubt share with another person who does this kind of quiet time meditation. He may help you to see more clearly.

8. Carry out the thoughts that you think express guidance from H.P. You will only be sure of guidance as you go through it. As you obey, very often the results will convince you that you are on the right track.

9. What if I don't seem to get any definite guidance thoughts? God's guidance is as freely available as the air we breathe. If I am not receiving guidance thoughts when I listen, the fault is mine. Usually it is because there is something I will not do.

- Something wrong in my life that I will not face and make right,
- a habit or indulgence I will not give up,
- a person I will not forgive,
- a wrong relationship in my life I will not give up,
- a restitution I will not make,
- something God has already told me to do that I will not obey.

Check these points and be honest. Then try listening again.

10. What if I make mistakes? God will help me put them right as long as I am sincere in my efforts. Supposing I fail to do something I have been told and the opportunity passes? Then I have to tell God about it, ask His forgiveness and begin again.

11. I think that all persons who try this honestly find that a wisdom, not their own, comes into their minds and that a Power greater than human power begins to operate in their lives.

Now let us see what the A.A. 12 & 12 has to say about prayer and meditation.

"Prayer and meditation are our principal means of conscious contact with God." page 96.

"There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation, and prayer. Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit. But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life. Now and then we may be granted a glimpse of that ultimate reality which is God's kingdom. And we will be comforted and assured that our own destiny in that realm will be secure for so long as we try, however falteringly, to find and do the will of our own Creator.

"As we have seen, self-searching [step 10] is the means by which we bring new vision, action, and grace to bear upon the dark and negative side of our natures. It is a step in the development of that kind of humility that makes it possible for us to receive God's help. Yet it is only a step. We will want to go further.

"We will want the good that is in us all, even in the worst of us, to flower and to grow. Most certainly we shall need bracing air and an abundance of food. But first of all we shall want sunlight; nothing much can grow in the dark. Meditation is our step out into the sun. How, then, shall we meditate? ...

"Well, we might start like this. First let's look at a really good prayer... [the eleventh step prayer]

"God, make me a channel of Thy peace -- that where there is hatred, I may bring love -- that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness -- that where there is discord, I may bring harmony -- that where there is error, I may bring truth -- that where there is doubt, I may bring faith -- that where there is despair, I may bring hope -- that where there are shadows, I may bring light -- that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. God, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted -- to understand, than to be understood -- to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.

"As beginners in meditation, we might now reread this prayer several times very slowly, savoring every word and trying to take in the deep meaning of each phrase and idea...We rest quietly with the thoughts of someone who knows, so that we may experience and learn.

"As though lying upon a sunlit beach, let us relax and breathe deeply of the spiritual atmosphere with which the grace of this prayer surrounds us. Let us become willing to partake and be strengthened and lifted up by the sheer spiritual power, beauty, and love of which these magnificent words are the carriers. Let us look now upon the sea and ponder what its mystery is; and let us lift our eyes to the far horizon, beyond which we shall seek all those wonders still unseen." pages 98-100.

"Once more we read our prayer, and again try to see what its inner essence is. We'll think now about the man who first uttered the prayer. First of all he wanted to become a 'channel.' Then he asked for the grace to bring love, forgiveness, harmony, truth, faith, hope, light, and joy to every human being he could.

"Next came the expression of an aspiration and a hope for himself. He hoped, God willing, to be able to find some of these treasures, too. This he would try to do by what he called self-forgetting. What did he mean by 'self-forgetting,' and how did he propose to accomplish that?

"He thought it better to give comfort than to receive it; better to understand than to be understood; better to forgive than to be forgiven.

"This much could be a fragment of what is called meditation, perhaps our very first attempt at a mood, a flier into the realm of spirit, if you like. It ought to be followed by a good look at where we stand now, and a further look at what might happen in our lives were we able to move closer to the ideal we have been trying to glimpse. Meditation is something which can always be further developed. It has no boundaries, either of width or height. Aided by such instruction and example as we can find, it is essentially an individual adventure, something which each one of us works out in our own way. But its object is always the same: to improve our conscious contact with God, and with God, with His grace, wisdom, and love. And let's always remember that meditation is in reality intensely practical. One of its first fruits is emotional balance. With it we can broaden and deepen the channel between ourselves and God as we understand Him." pages 101-102.

The meditation suggested in this example uses creative visualization to relax and then suggests contemplating the words of a very beautiful spiritual prayer which came to be named the eleventh step prayer.

Now let us see what the A.A. 12 & 12 has to say about prayer.

"Now, what of prayer? Prayer is the raising of the heart and mind to God -- and in this sense it includes meditation. How may we go about it? And how does it fit in with meditation? Prayer, as commonly understood, is a petition to God. Having opened our channel as best we can, we try to ask for those right things of which we and others are in the greatest need. And we think that the whole range of our needs is well defined by that part of Step Eleven which says: ' ... knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.' A request for this fits in any part of our day.

"In the morning we think of the hours to come. Perhaps we think of our day's work and the chances it may afford us to be useful and helpful, or of some special problem that it may bring. Possibly today will see a continuation of a serious and as yet unresolved problem left over from yesterday. Our immediate temptation will be to ask for specific solutions to specific problems, and for the ability to help other people as we have already thought they should be helped. In that case, we are asking God to do it our way. Therefore, we ought to consider each request carefully to see what its real merit is. Even so, when making specific requests, it will be well to add to each one of them this qualification: ' ... if it be Thy will.' We ask simply that throughout the day God place in us the best understanding of His will that we can have for that day, and that we be given the grace by which we may carry it out.

"As the day goes on, we can pause where situations must be met and decisions made, and renew the simple request: 'Thy will, not mine, be done." If at these points our emotional disturbance happens to be great, we will more surely keep our balance, provided we remember, and repeat to ourselves, a particular prayer or phrase that has appealed to us in our reading or meditation. Just saying it over and over will often enable us to clear a channel choked up with anger, fear, frustration, or misunderstanding, and permit us to return to the surest help of all -- our search for God's will, not our own, in the moment of stress. At these critical moments, if we remind ourselves that 'it is better to comfort than to be comforted, to understand than to be understood, to love than to be loved,' we will be following the intent of Step Eleven.

"Of course, it is reasonable and understandable that the question is often asked: 'Why can't we take a specific and troubling dilemma straight to God, and in prayer secure from God sure and definite answers to our requests?'

"This can be done, but it has hazards. We have seen A.A.'s [OA's] ask with much earnestness and faith for God's explicit guidance on matters ranging all the way from a shattering domestic or financial crisis to correcting a minor personal fault, like tardiness. Quite often, however, the thoughts that seem to come from God are not answers at all. They prove to be well-intentioned unconscious rationalizations. The A.A. [OA], or indeed anybody, who tries to run their life rigidly by this kind of prayer, by this self-serving demand of God for replies, is a particularly disconcerting individual. To any questioning or criticism of their actions they instantly proffer their reliance upon prayer for guidance in all matters great or small. They may have forgotten the possibility that their own wishful thinking and the human tendency to rationalize have distorted their so-called guidance. With the best of intentions, they tend to force their own will into all sorts of situations and problems with the comfortable assurance that they are acting under God's specific direction. Under such an illusion, they can of course create great havoc without in the least intending it.

"We also fall into another similar temptation. We form ideas as to what we think God's will is for other people. We say to ourselves, 'This one ought to be cured of her fatal malady,' or 'That one ought to be relieved of his emotional pain,' and we pray for these specific things. Such prayers, of course, are fundamentally good acts, but often they are based upon a supposition that we know God's will for the person for whom we pray. This means that side by side with an earnest prayer there can be a certain amount of presumption and conceit in us. It is A.A.'s [OA's] experience that particularly in these cases we ought to pray that God's will, whatever it is, be done for others as well as for ourselves.

"In A.A. [OA] we have found that the actual good results of prayer are beyond question. They are matters of knowledge and experience. All those who have persisted have found strength not ordinarily their own. They have found wisdom beyond their usual capability. And they have increasingly found a peace of mind which can stand firm in the face of difficult circumstances.

"We discover that we do receive guidance for our lives to just about the extent that we stop making demands upon God to give it to us on order and on our terms...

"Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We no longer live in a completely hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless. The moment we catch even a glimpse of God's will, the moment we begin to see truth, justice, and love as the real and eternal things in life, we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in purely human affairs. We know that God lovingly watches over us. We know that when we turn to God, all will be well with us, here and hereafter." pages 102-105.

This discussion on prayer just shows us that no matter what we pray for, it should always be for something that conforms with God's will for us.


INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUBJECTS:

1. Practice quiet time meditation on a daily basis and share with us about it.

2. Practice meditation by using creative visualization and contemplating a prayer. You may choose any kind of prayer that suits you. A lot of people choose the eleventh step prayer or the 23rd psalm, etc. Share with us about it.

3. A nice definition of meditation is "to be merged in God's love." Which of the above meditations gives you a taste of such feelings? If you use another meditation that makes you feel merged in God's love please share it with us.

Just to remind us, here is the quiet time meditation again.

QUIET TIME MEDITATION:

1. Find some place and time where you can be alone quiet and undisturbed. Most people have found that the early morning is the best time. Have with you some paper and pen.

2. Sit in a comfortable position. Consciously relax all your muscles, you can do some deep breathing to facilitate relaxation. Be loose, there is no hurry.

3. Open your heart to God. Either silently or aloud, just say to God in a natural way that you would like to find His plan for your life - you want His answer to the problem or situation that you are facing right now. Be definite and specific in your request.

4. Just be still quiet relaxed and open. Let your mind go "loose." Let God do the talking. Thoughts ideas, and impressions will begin to come into your mind and heart. Be alert and aware and open to every one.

5. WRITE DOWN everything that comes into your mind. EVERYTHING. Writing is simply a means of recording so that you can remember later. Don't sort out or edit your thoughts at this point. Don't try to direct your thinking. Just write down whatever comes to mind without trying to control anything. Write down any kind of thought. Anything that passes your mind without omitting anything. It can be names of people, things to do, things to say, things that are wrong and need to be made right, good thought, bad thought, sensible thoughts, crazy thoughts, neutral thoughts, anything at all. Be honest - WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING - without directing your thoughts.

6. When the flow of thoughts slows down or when you feel that you have written enough, stop. Not every thought comes from God, so we need to test our thoughts. Here is where the written record helps us to be able to do so.

a) Have you written thoughts whose origins are fear, or dishonesty, or resentment, or selfishness? Those are self-will thoughts. Draw a line on them.

b) Have you written some thoughts that are completely HONEST, PURE, UNSELFISH AND LOVING?

c) Have you written thoughts that are in line with our duties to our family - to our country?

d) Are these thought in line with your understanding of the teachings found in our spiritual literature?

Thoughts b), c), d), probably express guidance from God.

7. When in doubt share with another person who does this kind of quiet time meditation. He may help you to see more clearly.

8. Carry out the thoughts that you think express guidance from H.P. You will only be sure of guidance as you go through it. As you obey, very often the results will convince you that you are on the right track.

9. What if I don't seem to get any definite guidance thoughts? God's guidance is as freely available as the air we breathe. If I am not receiving guidance thoughts when I listen, the fault is mine. Usually it is because there is something I will not do.

- Something wrong in my life that I will not face and make right,

- a habit or indulgence I will not give up,
- a person I will not forgive,
- a wrong relationship in my life I will not give up,
- a restitution I will not make,
- something God has already told me to do that I will not obey.

Check these points and be honest. Then try listening again.

10. What if I make mistakes? God will help me put them right as long as I am sincere in my efforts. Supposing I fail to do something I have been told and the opportunity passes? Then I have to tell God about it, ask His forgiveness and begin again.

11. I think that all persons who try this honestly find that a wisdom, not their own, comes into their minds and that a Power greater than human power begins to operate in their lives.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo


STEP ELEVEN, PART 2
STEP ELEVEN, PART 3
STEP ELEVEN, PART 4




Step Ten
Up
Index

Step Twelve


WTS Home
The Twelve Steps
Recovery Home



Copyright 2002 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved