Personal Stories, Step 11
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.
Sought through prayer & meditation – how simple do we need the instructions to be? It took me almost fifteen years in recovery to see how simple this is. We pray and we meditate – that’s what we do. Like the old John Denver song says, we “talk to God and listen to the casual reply.” We pray every single morning and every single night. It doesn’t need to be fancy – one old timer said that for several months all he could do was say, “please” in the morning and “thank you” at night. It was enough. Twice a day he recognized the existence of a Power greater than himself, asked that Power for help in staying away from a drink for one day, and thanked that Power for doing so. We can add more if and when we choose, but please and thank you are all we need to begin. And meditation? It’s just listening to God – if my mind is racing like a white mouse on steroids, I can’t hear anything else, can I? I have to tell my mind to shut up now and then so I can listen. It’s tough at first, but it gets easier with practice.
… to improve our conscience contact with God, as we understood Him – The big book says that we are never cured of alcoholism, but we get a daily reprieve based on “the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” And so if I want to remain sober, which for me means staying alive, the maintenance of my spiritual condition is absolutely essential. It’s not optional. And there is so much chatter about the meaning of “conscious contact.” I think it’s very simple – it’s a constant awareness throughout the day that there is a God, and it’s not me. It’s constantly being willing to surrender the demands of my ego. It’s staying in the present moment, because past and future are only illusions that exist in my head. God is here and now. He is in the faces and voices of the people I meet; He is in the ocean, the sky, and the rooms of AA. Can’t find God? Look around! He’s right here in front of you! If I listen, I can hear God’s voice everywhere, I can see His beauty in every face I meet and in every facet of life. I don’t even have to work that hard to find God – I only need to be willing to let go of my insistence that I am always right. Every day, as long as I continue to pray and meditate, I experience more of God and less of my ego.
… praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. “Wow! That is really simple!” I don’t need to pray for God to heal my friend’s Aunt Bertha of her cancer. I need to ask God to show me His will and give me strength to carry it out. I need to be willing to accept God’s will. Aunt Bertha may very well die of her cancer – but will I be there to comfort and support my friend in her grief? If I ask God to make someone well, am I playing God? But if I ask God to give me strength to help a friend who is grieving, there is no ego; there is no “using” God as if He were a genie in a lamp. When I keep my prayers this simple, I am relieved of the burden of deciding what should or should not happen. That’s God’s business. My business is to stop trying to run the show. “Your will, not mine, be done.” When I pray this simple prayer I am doing two things: First, I am submitting myself completely to God’s will, whatever that may be. And second, I am asking God to help me get my ego out of the way so I can be useful. And I have found that 99% of the time, God’s will is a thousand times better than anything I could have dreamed up.
So I think I’ll keep working step eleven. Thanks for letting me share.