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A Study of Step 11

The 12 Steps of A.A. and Al-Anon

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Updated February 10, 2014

The purpose of Step 11 is to discover the plan God as you understand Him, has for your life and find the power to carry it out. Although the approaches and methods of doing this are as varied as the individuals who attend 12-step support groups, the end results are the same.

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.
For many who come into the rooms of recovery, whether it is Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon Family Groups, the concept of spirituality is an unfamiliar one. Let's face it, many of those who make it into the program come in from bars, jails, broken marriages, and a life in turmoil. Even those who have a background in church find that their experience has been more "religious" rather than spiritual.

But if they are earnest in working the 12 steps, by the time they arrive at Step 11 they discover they have found a measure of spirituality at work in their lives. For the first time, many members discover their Higher Power and form a better understanding of that power.

Nothing happens by mistake

The approaches and methods of prayer and mediation suggested in Step 11 vary, but the purpose of the step is to make contact with that Higher Power, whether they refer to it as "God" or they use any means available to avoid the G-word. The point is they have discovered through participation in the program that there is a power greater than themselves and they have seen that power at work.

As members accept the principle from the oft-quoted Page 449 from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, that "Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake" they come to believe there is a Higher Power, and the God of their understanding has a plan for their lives. Through prayer and meditation members attempt to raise their consciousness of that power and draw on it to continue their personal journey of recovery.

Prayer and meditation? As it is suggested by the program, and is so typical of its members to do so, it is best to keep it simple. It doesn't have to be complicated. As one old-timer says, "Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening!"

There are other approaches to prayer and meditation, as is illustrated by the following posted on the bulletin board here at the About.com Alcoholism site as our study of the 12 Steps and Traditions continues:

Non-Theist View
"As a non-theist with over 21 years of continuous freedom from alcohol I am often asked about how I 'work the steps', especially step 11."
Index of 12 Steps and Traditions Study

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  3. Alcoholism
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  5. Step Study Tools
  6. A Study of Step 11 of the 12 Step Programs

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