Step 11

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out


How It Works

Step 11 suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy in this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it.
-A.A. Big Book p.85-86

More about Step 11 in the Big Book


Comments from Web Sites and Publications

Step 11 is my continual reality check and compass. It keeps me grounded in the reality that I know has brought me out of my addictive behaviors. It keeps me in a safe place by keeping my conscious contact with God. Through prayer and meditation I maintain this conscious contact with God and continually try to carry out what God leads me to do. In that path, I find the sanity, serenity and joy that I have been seeking.
- From 12Step.org


Those of us who have come to make regular use of prayer would no more do without it than we would refuse air, food or sunshine. And for the same reason. When we refuse air, light or food the body suffers. And when we turn away from meditation and prayer, we likewise deprive our minds, our emotions and our intuitions of vitally needed support. As the body can fail its purpose for lack of nourishment, so can the soul. We all need the light of God's reality, the nourishment of His strength, and the atmosphere of His grace. To an amazing extent the facts of A.A. life confirm this ageless truth.
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 97-98


When we first come to the Program, we usually express a lot of things which seem to be important wants and needs. As we grow spiritually and find out about a Power greater than ourselves, we begin to realize that as long as our spiritual needs are truly met, our living problems are reduced to a point of comfort. When we forget where our real strength lies, we quickly become subject to the same patterns of thinking and action that got us to the Program in the first place. We eventually redefine our beliefs and understanding to the point where we see that our greatest need is for knowledge of God's will for us and the strength to carry that out. We are able to set aside some of our personal preference, if necessary, to do this because we learn that God's will consists of the very things we care most about. God's will for us becomes our own true will for ourselves. This happens in an intuitive manner which cannot be adequately explained in words.

We become willing to let other people be what they are without having to pass judgment on them. The urgency to take care of things isn't there anymore. We couldn't comprehend acceptance in the beginning-now we can.
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 11


Step 11 provides daily spiritual maintenance. As recovering persons, we may use our support groups and recovery literature as springboards toward spiritual and emotional growth. We will probably reach a level, though, at which we hunger for an even deeper contact and communication with God...

If we have had little or no experience with prayer, we should probably begin in a simple fashion. That means putting aside perfectionistic concerns about praying "the right way." We should pray simply and forthrightly to God as a loving Father, not worrying about what we should and should not say.

Over time, as we become comfortable with God, we will talk with Him as with a trusted friend. He will be the Person with whom we can conduct our daily inventories of grief and confession issues. And we will begin to sense His answers to our prayers...
- Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, p. 72, 73


Moving through the steps people report being increasingly in contact with soneone - a "Person" rather than a philosophical Higher Power. When this change takes place, we often see miracles happening in their lives. After much fear of losing control, they discover insight, wisdom, power, and courage that they didn't have at all two weeks before. At that point many say, "I surrender, I give up." They begin to communicate with God concerning what is happening to them. And that's when they are ready to receive the help of Step Eleven.

Although these changes happen for many people, they do not happen for all. Many work the steps and stay sane in Twelve-Step programs yet somehow miss the whole thing about prayer and meditation. Most of the people who work good programs, however, are connected to God and do use prayer and meditation in some form. They use them as practical ways of learning who God is and what his will for them may be, as well as for learning useful truths about who they are and what they're to do in order to find happiness, guidance, peace and continued growth. But mostly they pray because they feel gratitude, love and a sense of awe that the One with whom they are in contact is using his power to heal them.
- A Hunger for Healing, by Keith Miller, p. 180


Personal Experiences

In our forums, you can read about how others have worked step 11, or share your own experiences about working step 11. The audio section also has examples of people sharing about how step 11 worked for them.

To share your own experiences in the forums, you first need to sign up for free membership.