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.

Leader's Share and Step Questions

11—Step 11—Connection—Life on Life’s Terms

Welcome to Week 11 of the Working the Steps study for the first quarter of 2015. I am Cindy M., a compulsive overeater in recovery, thankful to share with you in this study. All the lessons are available here:

Remember my little evening on the porch in the last assignment, when I made up my little charts to work my way through my difficulties? When I finished that exercise I didn’t see angels trumpeting on the horizon or float back into the house, my feet not touching the ground. No, I was just OK. And that’s OK! As Lawrie C. says, “Life is now acceptable.” And that’s my miracle! It’s not unmanageable any more.

Step 11 is covered in the final pages of the chapter “Into Action” in the Big Book, pp. 85-88, available at .

Word by Word, Line Upon Line

I wrote something for the Recovery list recently that my sponsor suggested would work well for this Step 11 lesson for WTS, so here it is. As I began thinking about what to write, I opened my Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (12-and-12) and just copied out Step 11, to see what it might yield for me, for us. I’m an English teacher, so it’s very natural for me to really dig in to the words, so here we go!

Sought through prayer and meditation

This seeking is momentously done the first time we ever come to this step, and it feels a bit as if we’ve done it before because we have, in Step 3, with the prayer there. But this is part of a daily effort, and it includes both prayer and meditation. I think of prayer as focused toward HP and meditation as focused more inside myself. It’s as if I ask God for things and then mull over what He gives me. Prayer reminds us of our helplessness and HP’s power, and meditation gives us a way to remind ourselves of the truth.

To improve our conscious contact

In fact, if the purpose of prayer and meditation is TO IMPROVE, then it must have some power, to be worth our seeking through it. And what are we seeking? To improve our conscious contact, not an unconscious thing that happens invisibly in the spiritual realm, but a focused, aware relationship. What kind of contact is it?

With God as we understood Him,

It’s contact with HP as we more generically use the term—as each of us in himself or herself has come to understand HP. I don’t think this is to be a static point of whatever we could conjure up in our first attempts at the steps in recovery, never to change. In fact, the language of the Big Book reminds us in several places that our first understanding is just a start, something that we are to grow through to something more. Maybe it’s bigger, or deeper, or richer, or more real for us. I get the distinct impression that the writers of the Big Book were confident that a particular HP is “out there” but we’re all at different places in coming to understand it. But you know what? Wherever we are is okay—contact with the most modest possible HP is an honest place to start.

Praying only for knowledge of His will for us

So our prayer is both to establish contact and to get our “orders,” so to speak. Or, even more simply than that—to get knowledge of what HP would have us do and be. It’s less emphatic than orders. But somehow I think the connection is that the contact with HP and the knowledge of what HP wills for us come together to lead to the next thing:

And the power to carry that out.

And so it is—the prayer is for connection, and knowledge, and power. And the power is directed toward what HP’s will for us is, not power for our own selfish ends and private schemes. But the more daily we live out Step 11, the more consciously we walk in the ways of HP. Funny how that works!

  • Now to you. Have you taken this step or another one phrase by phrase, word by word before, to see what you might glean from it? Do you have some riches to share from your own investigation?
  • What is a recent knowledge of HP’s will for you that you have discerned through prayer and meditation? Have you gotten the power to carry it out?

Day by Day

The section on Step 11 in the Big Book gives a nightly routine that encompasses the items in the Step 10 inventory we covered last week, a review of the day. It also gives a morning routine: “Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives” (86). This clean slate commitment sets the stage for a good day for us, and incorporates meditation, too. We will delight to discover that we are developing that thing called intuition, and our lives are running much more efficiently, “for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves” (88).

  • Do you have already established a way to purposefully make conscious contact with your HP on a daily basis? If not, what do you think will work for you as you begin to establish recovery as a daily way of life?

This is just a start in developing a daily plan for building conscious contact with your Higher Power, and in a favorite phrase in our fellowship, “More will be revealed.” Next week we move into Step 12 and the chapter “Working With Others.” We’re nearly there!

Please write me privately at if I can answer any questions for you as you work through the study. I want it to be as helpful a study as it can be, and your feedback helps me do that!

For Those Who Have Time: Reading

We’re now at the end of this one chapter of the Big Book, “Into Action,” and next week we will be in a new chapter for Step 12. The above assignments of a few pages are all you need for now, though you will profit from reading “Step Eleven” in the 12-and-12. Especially if you’re wondering how to go about praying and/or meditating, this chapter goes step by step through the process, addressing our natural skepticism that the God who hasn’t seemed to be there for us in the past will “show up” for what we need now. If you find yourself wandering through some of these thoughts about HP again just now, with mentions of prayer, I encourage you as well to read the chapter “We Agnostics” in the Big Book, beginning on p. 44. In fact, even if you think of yourself as a robustly religious person, I promise you’ll find surprising truths for yourself in that chapter—I discovered that I am in many ways a “functional agnostic,” and in recovery I am recovering my relationship with God on a much more intimate and foundational reality.

Blessings in Recovery,

Cindy M.

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