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

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

Comments from Websites 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.


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

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

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

Moving through the steps people report being increasingly in contact with someone - 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

Step Eleven says that we already have a conscious contact with the God of our understanding, and that the task before us now is to improve that contact. We began to develop our conscious awareness of a Higher Power in Step Two, learned to trust that Power for guidance in Step Three, and relied on that Power many times for many other reasons in the process of working through the steps. Each time we called upon our Higher Power for help, we improved our relationship with our Higher Power. Step Eleven recognizes that reaching out to the God of our understanding, referred to most simply as prayer, is one of the most effective means for building a relationship with God. The other means put forth in this step is meditation. In this step, we will need to explore our own concepts of prayer and meditation, and make sure they reflect our spiritual path. ...

Some of us get to this point, and we just don't know. The institutions we've been involved with in the past hold no answers, but we can't think of anything that sounds like a better idea. For those with this experience, this is the point at which we embark on one of the most important journeys in our lives: the search for a way to understand a Higher Power. In this process, we are likely to visit every place that has anything to do with spirituality that's available in our community. We're also likely to read a great number of books concerned with spirituality and personal growth, and talk to a great number of people. We may commit for a time to any number of practices before settling on one - or we may never really settle on any one practice permanently. It Works mentions that many of our members adopt an "eclectic approach" to spirituality. If this applies to us, it's important to know that doing this is okay and will serve the spiritual needs of recovery just fine. ...

As we explore our spiritual path, and perhaps pick up and discard various spiritual practices, some of us are troubled by what seems to be inherent bias in NA's steps and traditions when God is referred to as having a male gender. Even more painful, some of us may feel that we don't have much support within our local NA community for our spiritual choices and exploration. It's important for us to understand that the language of NA's recovery literature is not meant to determine a member's spirituality. It's also important for us to understand that we as addicts have character defects, and sometimes some of our members will act on theirs by ridiculing someone else's spiritual path. They may even quote NA recovery literature to "support" such ridicule. Again, NA itself has no "official" or "approved" spiritual path, and any member who claims otherwise is, quite simply, wrong. We mention this here because we believe it's very important for all of our members to know what's true and not true about NA when working the Eleventh Step. It can be a dangerous time. If members follow a spiritual path, and feel unwelcome in NA because of it, their recovery can be in jeopardy. We as members have a duty to encourage the spiritual explorations of other members, and we who are exploring need to know that we can look wherever we want for our spirituality without threatening our membership in NA. ...

To many of us, "conscious contact" sounds like something very mysterious, implying some kind of cosmic union with God. But it's really very simple. It just means that we have a conscious awareness of our link to a Higher Power. We notice the presence of that Power, and see some of the ways it works in our life. There are so many ways our members have experienced the presence fo a loving God: when we experience something in nature, such as a forest or an ocean; through the unconditional love of our sponsor or other NA members; through the feeling of being anchored during difficult times; through feelings of peace and warmth; through a coincidence that later on we see as having led to some great good; through the simple fact of our recovery in NA; through our ability to listen to others at a meeting; and countless other means. The point is that we are looking and we are willing to acknowledge that our Higher Power is active in our lives.

Narcotics Anonymous Step Working Guides, 1998, p. 107, 108, 109, 111

It is clear from reading the Twelve and Twelve [Webmaster's note: this refers to the classic recovery book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions] that the conception of meditation offered in this step is not the caricatured lotus position, nor any form of esoteric mysticism. Although there is certainly room for a more in-depth form of meditation, what Bill had in mind is more of a clear-minded self-reflection.

In terms of prayer, although a more traditional sense of prayer is described, the purpose is also portrayed as prayer to one's Higher Power for a sense of direction. The prayer "God's will, not mine, be done" is frequently added to the Serenity Prayer at the conclusion of 12-step meetings, and reflects a move away from the egocentric position of the active alcholic or addict.

A Clinician's Guide to 12 Step Recovery, 2009, p. 54-55