“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.”
By the time you reach Step 11 on your path to recovery, the finish line is in sight. These last few steps, however, are just as essential as the first. For it’s in Steps 10, 11, and 12 that you learn the business of long-term recovery.
And in some ways, Step 11 can be one of the most difficult of the 12 steps for addicts and alcoholics to conquer.
That’s because it asks you to sit still, alone with your thoughts.
The actual wording of Step 11 can sound very religious, but what it’s really asking is for you to find a way to get quiet and listen to the still, small voice of your Higher Power.
The AA Big Book explains that it’s a process “by which we bring new vision, action, and grace to bear upon the dark and negative side of our natures” and turn our will over to a Higher Power.
Exactly what that looks like can be totally different from person to person.
For some people in recovery, it means going to church services once a week. Others meditate every single morning and every night. Others like going for hikes every weekend, and stopping at the top of a mountain to think about where they’ve been and where they’re going.
Like anything else in recovery, all this step asks is that you approach it with honesty, openness, and willingness. And if you work it, it will work for you – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
You might find that you’re suddenly sleeping better at night. Or working Step Eleven might suddenly make your annoying coworker seem less obnoxious. Overall, it seems to turn down the volume on what some in recovery call the “Sh***y Committee,” or the negative voices in your head.
Your sponsor might have suggestions on how to develop a program of prayer and meditation in your life. But explore and try out what’s attractive to you.
When in doubt, you can always say the 11th Step Prayer, also known as St. Francis’s prayer:
Lord make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.
O divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console.
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.