Alcoholics Anonymous is well known for their 12-step program that focuses on helping people achieve sobriety, make amends, and improve the quality of their life. For many people in recovery, Step 11 presents a bit of a challenge. A person facing this step may not understand what it means, how to apply it in his or her life, or may have shunned religion and spirituality altogether. However, if you want to progress to the final step, then you must integrate the Alcoholics Anonymous Step 11 in your life.
Step 11: Prayer
Step 11 of the program encourages people to reach out to God and to accept that He or She has a plan for their life. One of the underlying principles of the Alcoholics Anonymous program is that nothing happens by mistake. Members are encouraged to recognize their Higher Power, to listen to that Higher Power, and allow Him or Her to inspire them in their journey of recovery. This is achieved through prayer and meditation.
Tips for Applying Step 11 of AA
If you have little to no experience with spiritual matters or it’s been a long time since you connected to your Higher Power, then this step may present a challenge for you. Here are a few tips to assist you in applying the principle of Step 11 in your life.
- Don’t get hung up on the term – When people are presented with the term “God”, many immediately associate it with the deity of the dominant religion in their society. In Northern America, this would be the Judeo-Christian god. However, “God” is a neutral term, and it is best not to get caught up in how other people choose to define it. Focus on connecting to what you understand to be God, whether that is Vishnu, Yahweh, Allah, the Great Spirit, or something else.
- Prayer can take many forms – It is generally accepted that prayer means getting on your knees and speaking to your Higher Power. If that is what prayer means to you and you are comfortable with that, then pray in that manner. Don’t feel bad, though, if it doesn’t. The content of your prayers is more important than how you say them. Speak to your Higher Power as though you were talking to another person. Tell Him or Her about what is troubling you, ask for guidance, and express gratitude for the assistance you have received in your life.
- Meditation is listening – If prayer is the act of talking to your Higher Power, then meditation is the act of listening to Him or Her. It is a physical and mental discipline that requires you to be still and observe. Many people are uncomfortable with silence, and they will do anything to avoid it. If this describes you, then meditation may be challenging when you first begin. Rest assured, though, it will get easier each time you do it.
Begin by sitting quietly for 5 to 10 minutes. Thoughts will come to you, but try not to hold onto them. Let them flow in and out your mind. As a way of letting go of conscious thought, it may be helpful to observe your breathing or to concentrate on a candle flame. The goal is to connect to your Higher Power and listen for wisdom. There are many books and websites about meditation. It may be helpful to peruse them.
Step 11 represents a significant change in the way you see yourself and the world. If you are having difficulty completing this step, then connect to your sponsor or peers for assistance.