The 11th step is about placing the God of our understanding at the forefront of our lives. It is the full blooming of our spiritual awakening.
Step 11: 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.
This is deep. From someone who has sought only their own self-gratification, we become people who now seek a higher purpose. We have a spiritual path that has replaced our drinking problem. We now have a concept of a higher power which we may not have had before.
There is a prayer that is often used. It is the Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace—that where
there is hatred, I may bring love—that where there is
wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness—that where
there is discord, I may bring harmony—that where there is
error, I may bring truth—that where there is doubt, I may
bring faith—that where there is despair, I may bring hope
—that where there are shadows, I may bring light—that
where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I
may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted—to understand,
than to be understood—to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving
that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal
It can be found on page 99 of the book Twelve and Twelve.
This is and always has been more than simply a prayer to me. The words are a meditation on what my daily life should be and, importantly, on what it was like. In the past, before I achieved the emotional balance that the 12-step program brought to me, I was anything but an instrument of peace. I’m laughing wryly as I write that because I think the best description of me from those days would have been chaos in search of a drink.
It may be of use to go to an 11th step meditation group. For someone like myself, I prefer it as a part of the daily reflections I follow, forming part of my spiritual practice. For others, joining an 11th step meditation meeting with other AA members with whom they share a common problem is preferable.
What does it mean to meditate?
I will combine two definitions of the word offered by Merriam-Webster and define it as engaging in contemplation or reflection to reach a heightened level of spiritual awareness. The actual definitions are here. It also offers another definition- to focus one’s thoughts on: reflect on or ponder over.
This is the how and the why.
We mull over things that were and things that are to be. Questions such as how we can better serve the God of our understanding and how can we bring others into this fellowship of men and woman. How can service become an intuitive thought and our primary purpose? It becomes a lovely, tranquil conversation with God.
This step is the point where we begin to seek a continuous connection with the God we called on in step three when, as it is written in the big book, we “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
There is much contained in this prayer. Something that rides through the whole of it is the spirit of forgiveness. If we are to sow love, pardon, hope, and joy, we must be filled with this spirit. As we begin to carry this message to the still-suffering alcoholic, we need to commit to being a channel of our God’s peace.
How does being a channel differ from being a messenger?
Here, again, is another example of meditation. One word, channel, and the opportunity to pause and reflect on what it implies. I have been blessed to meet people in the A.A. membership who exemplify this. It seems that peace is at the very core of who they are.
These folks may not always have the right answers at the right time, but they always have the right attitude.
They are examples of the other meaning of A.A. – Altered Attitudes.
They live with each of their actions as an advert for what sobriety can and should be.
Writing this, I have not wanted to provide a series of points on which to meditate, but rather a guide on how to approach the meditation. Meditation is an extraordinarily personal thing, and depending on our lives are at the time each conversation with our Higher Power takes place. For each of us, the flow of thought and responses as we absorb and reflect on the meaning and purpose of this step should stem from us and our own understanding of our higher power.
What point does this meditation bring me to? To me, it invokes humility and service. It completely defines who I want to become.
We are now at a point where we approach the 12th step, which is
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
This 11th step and all that comes from this connection with God will give us serenity, wisdom, and strength as we move forward.
May I end with a quote that expresses my wish for you as the future waits:
The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26, King James Version)