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.


Hello, friends; my name is Penny and I am a compulsive eater and your leader for for the 3rd quarter WTS Step Study

Step 11 is where I maintain my God connection. I speak to God in daily prayer, and - as much as I don't like to be quiet and listen — I listen for the guidance and wisdom that God has for me in return. Working Step 11 doesn't mean that I turn into a monk, sitting silently in a cell 24/7.

Working Step 11 can be as "shallow" as rotely reciting prayers that we have made up or take from our religious affiliation, if we have such a thing, or from one of the prayers in the Big Book or one of the prayers that float around the OA rooms from time to time. Step 11 can be as "in depth" as using those same prayers and really meaning it with all our hearts. Either way, we are — even by giving lip service — reaching out to the Power that gives us the strength to abstain and recover one day at a time. There's no judgement about the quality of the prayers because for most of us that quality will change on a regular basis. What's important is that we are doing it at all.

But there's a caveat: when I pray, I have to let go of the idea that I can tell God what I want and expect God to deliver. There's a great piece of wisdom that I learned: While I may pray for this or that thing ... or that this or that person is healed from a horrible illness ... or that a loved one arrives at a destination safely, God doesn't necessarily deliver. God doesn't deliver work raises or daily sunshine or anything else just because I ask for it. And the fact that loved ones die or stay ill or I don't get a job or a raise or whatever I want doesn't mean that God hasn't listened to my prayers. God doesn't deliver "tangibles." God *does* deliver peace of mind and guidance when I'm "squirreling" about something; God *does* deliver the courage for me to comfort someone who is ill or to do a feared task as well as the ability to get out of my own limited viewpoints. Asking for (read: demanding) this or that is a waste of time and energy because - and this is my own understanding of God — God doesn't go around carrying an umbrella over my head to keep me dry when it's raining or keep me safe from harm. I can pray for those things as long as I keep very clear in my own mind that I might not get these things — and that this is OK.

A prayer that I think "satisfies" the Step 11 suggestion that I ask for God's will and the power to carry it out might go like this: "Dear God, I really want (xyz). If it's your will, it will be provided to me. I pray for the guidance to know what I have to do to work for it ... and for the serenity to accept the outcome either way. I pray for the strength to do the right thing, to help guide a loved one who really wants (abc) and might or might not achieve it."

Praying reminds me that I'm not alone and that there's a Power beyond myself to whom I can turn at all times. Sometimes I feel God's presence, and sometimes I have the sense that God's in some other room. That's OK — having worked Steps 2 and 3, I know that God is always available to me. Every so often, in fact, I get the sense that God is just "hanging out," waiting with a wry smile for me to get over myself (I guess you could say that in my understanding of God, God has a terrifically wicked sense of humor). Working Step 11 as consistently as possible gives me a solid foundation in believing that God is always available, no matter how far from God I might have strayed.

Powerlessness equals honesty, surrender and acceptance. It stops the blame game as well as the shame and a lot of my self-hatred. I would never call my sons' poison ivy — or my cat — allergy a moral weakness. Not being able to control myself around food is also not a moral weakness.


1. Do you have a routine of prayer and meditation?

2. Do you use prayers of the religion of your choice or do you make them up or use other written out prayers? (The idea here is NOT to share specific prayers but rather to reinforce the idea that there is a huge variety of prayers that we OA's might and do use.)

3. Why is it a waste of time to tell God (read: demand) what we want when we pray?

4. Why is it so important to ask God for "God's will and the power to carry that out" as opposed to telling God what s/he should be doing for us?

5. What's the connection between humility and Step 11?

6. How is Step 11 a continuation of Steps 2 and 3?

7. Without specifically naming a deity, how might you word a Step 11 prayer that deals with a situation where you really want something for yourself or a loved one?

8. If Step 11 says that we're not supposed to be asking for something specific, how are we supposed to get what we want?

9. Are there any other thoughts about Step 11 that you'd like to share with the group?

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