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.
The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes the eleventh step of as follows:
Step Eleven suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it. It would be easy to be vague about this matter. Yet, we believe we can make some definite and valuable suggestions. Pg 85-86
The eleventh step is the step that we use to keep ourselves in check spiritually and communicate with God. With practice this step is where we hone the sixth sense or God conscious that we have begun to develop. This step is also the step that we begin to find out Gods will for us through the searching of His word. It is in this step that the principles of our new way of life begin to make sense and take shape as we see them in Gods word and He continues to reveal himself to us. Although the pioneers never came straight out and stated in the basic text that bible study was an intrecal part of seeking and finding Gods will, the facts are not hard to find. Why they did not put it plainly in the basic text we will never know. Bill said: "I sort of always felt that something was lost from A.A. when we stopped emphasizing morning meditation" (DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, p. 178). Morning meditation involves bible study and reading. The one thing that is crystal clear is that they relied on the bible for absolute guidance and for absolutely finding Gods will. What we will concentrate on in these pages will be the explicit directions in the basic text for step eleven. This web site has a link with AA history articles that show you exactly what the pioneers did to recover and the book they used to do that, the bible. Other facts are not hard to find! They are all over the Internet, library, approved and non-approved AA literature etc. Take the time to find out the truth for yourself. I don't need to push anything on anyone! If you want to know the truth you'll find it. Remember on this web site we are doing away with myths and fables.
Let's look at what the basic text suggests about step eleven and take the time to go in depth so we can see what it is that we should be doing to ensure we continue to grow in our new way of life.: When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken. Pg 86 As we talked about in step ten this is a continuation of our fourth step. In step ten I am watching for the symptoms of spiritual sickness to crop up. In step eleven when I retire at night I am looking back at my day and directing all my attention to see where I have fallen short. So I have a short list of questions that I am going to be asking myself at night and I am going to answer them to the best of my ability by looking back at or reviewing my day. As we already know from our fourth step inventory we can place just about every behavior that is not pleasing to God under resentful, selfish, dishonest and afraid. All the questions in the eleventh step are straight forward. I must take the time to answer each one as honestly as I can so that I can clearly see my actions throughout the day and ask Gods forgiveness, and what actions I should take to correct my mistakes. Remember: In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come, if we want it. Pg 69 This is part of depending and relying upon God. I also need to be checking the guidance that I receive against Gods will to ensure that I am in fact receiving guidance from God. This is done as I continue to learn His will for us through His word. Dr. Bob when asked about something would not give his opinion, he would simply say: What does it say in the Good book (DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, p. 144). Now I am warned to never fall into worry, remorse or morbid reflection as that would push me away from being useful to others. Worry is fear and that blocks me from Gods Power. Remorse is bitter regret over the things that I have done during my day and that blocks me from Gods power. Morbid reflection is to carefully consider things in my past that I have done that was not in line with Gods will and to dwell on it and continue to think about it until I become almost obsessed with it to a point where I am beating myself up over it. This self pity and regret over the things that I have done blocks me from the Power of God. Remember we are human and we are going to fall short. The key is I am not going to willfully fall short, or do things that go against what God would have me do. This does not take a lot of time. The whole idea is to see where I have fallen short and get corrective measures that I can use to grow spiritually so I can try to avoid the same mistakes.
Now let's look at what we do when we get up in the morning. The morning devotion or quiet time that the big book talks about on page 86 was written with the understanding that prayer, bible study and seeking guidance would be involved. Here is a few quotes as to what was involved in the morning upon awakening:
Dr. Bob's morning devotion consisted of a short prayer, a 20-minute study of a familiar verse from the Bible, and a quiet period of waiting for directions as to where he, that day, should find use for his talent (DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 314,).
He [an alcoholic] must have devotions every morning–a "quiet time" of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature. Unless this is faithfully followed, there is grave danger of backsliding (From the report of Rockefeller's investigator Frank Amos, published in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 131).
The A.A. members of that time did not consider meetings necessary to maintain sobriety. They were simply "desirable." Morning devotion and "quiet time," however, were musts (DR. BOB, supra, p. 136).
Daily Quiet Time. This cannot be emphasized too much. Not a day should be missed. The early morning hours are best. It may be that more than one quiet time will be needed during the day. Whenever need arises one should stop and pray and listen. The method of holding quiet time varies some with each individual. All include prayer and Bible reading and study and patient listening to God (Quoted from Anne Smith's Journal: Dick B., Anne Smith's Journal, 1933-1939, 3rd ed., p. 61; see also Dick B., Good Morning! Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A., 2d ed, pp. 6-9).
At that time [when "Dad and Mom and Bill were working out the program"] I [Dr. Bob's daughter Sue] was getting involved with the quiet times they had in the morning. The guys would come, and Mom would have quiet time with them. There was a cookie salesman and he'd bring the stale cookies over, and we'd take up a collection for three pounds of coffee for 29 cents. They'd have their quiet time, which is a holdover from the Oxford Group, where they read the Bible, prayed and listened, and got guidance. Then they'd have coffee and cookies. This was early in the morning, when the sky was starting to get light. Sometimes they'd get us out of bed to do this (Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows, Children of the Healer, pp. 43-44; Dick B., Anne Smith's Journal, supra, p. 54).
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives. Pg 86 Motive=An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action. (American Heritage Dictionary). I no longer live by motives. As I have progressed spiritually I have begun to live by Gods principles not my own motives. Depending on my motives always brings me to a life blocked from God, When I live by Gods principles I am living in accordance with His will. So the basic text gives me some very simple directions for the morning time. Before I consider my day I ask God to take away my selfish thinking so I may focus on what He would have me do this day. Of course I have to work, or carry out my normal days activities but I will be able to rely on God to guide me through my day.: In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. Pg 86 I relax and take it easy because I am not clamoring trying to make the situation suit myself. I am now living, as best I can, by Gods principles and seeking His guidance.: What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it. Pg 87 The absurd actions and ideas are all centered around Gods principles. As I look back at starting my eleventh step I see that I have done some things that I now have a better understanding of exactly what was really intended. This is spiritual growth. I now come to rely upon this inspiration in all areas of my life and I see that the guidance received really is a big part of my daily activities as long as I am, to the best of my ability, doing what I know to be Gods will.: Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven't got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us. Pg 164 Seeing to it that my relationship with Him is right is done by seeking His will through His word and responding to what He reveals to me through the study of scripture, not some half-baked idea out of my selfishness that it must be Gods will because__________(fill in the blank). God did not give us the good book with explicit directions to serve Him for me to go off on some emotional roller coaster ride on what makes me feel good or brings me what I think I need to make me happy. That is what got me to the point where I was blocked from Him to begin with.
We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Pg 87 When I am done with my scripture study or reading and My meditation I end my morning devotion with prayer. My job is.: Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us. Pg 77 So when I pray, I pray for the strength and courage to face my day as God would have me do and how I might be of help to others. I don't pray for things that can not benefit others or may get in the way of my service to God. By now I have become content in the life that God has put in front of me and have already begun to receive more than I need. My situation may not be the best that it can be but I realize that I have no needs left unfulfilled, and that I am in a position where I can be of help to others. I also see that God has begun to mode me into what He would have me be.
If circumstances warrant, we ask our wives or friends to join us in morning meditation. If we belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite morning devotion, we attend to that also. If not members of religious bodies, we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing. There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one's priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer. Pg 87 If the situation is right I may ask my loved ones to join me in my quiet time. There are also many books that can inspire me as I continue to read Gods word and practice the eleventh step. I also can memorize some prayers that deal with the principles that are the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous. All biblical and centered on maximum service to God and the people around me. Suggestions about other books may come from my spiritual leaders or other religious people but Gods word is the over all authority in all matters. It is not about what my priest or minister says, or some other book I am reading. It is about what thus saith the Lord in His word and that is absolute truth and guidance.
Now that I am done with my morning quiet time and I am going about my business for the day, I may get agitated or not know what to do in any given situation. Here we pause and ask for the right thought or action. My problem has always been that I can't stop and pause when I get frustrated or need to make a decision. I always just reacted to whatever was in front of me. Now I begin to see that God has given me the ability to take a step back and seek His direction as I unreservedly place myself in His care.: As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day "Thy will be done." We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves. Pg 87-88 My constant thought is for His will not my will to be done, and I say this often throughout my day. Now I see that I don't get physically and emotionally drained like I did when I wasn't trying to serve God. I begin to realize that when I struggle throughout my day it is because I have tried to force my surroundings in any given situation to fit my needs instead of me seeking to do Gods will. I pay for this with physical and emotional fatigue as well as seemingly fighting everyone and everything that I encounter. This is nothing more than me slipping back into living on my motives instead of Gods principles and it is unproductive and all things are affected by my selfishness.
It works - it really does.
We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined. Pg 88 The more I strive to keep Gods will on my mind at all times the better my days are. "How can I best serve Thee - Thy will (not mine) be done." These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. Pg 85 Doing step eleven to the best of my ability in the morning and at night will begin to give me Godly thoughts throughout my day and will help to insure that I am staying right with God. But.: ...this is not all. There is action and more action. "Faith without works is dead." Pg 88
There is always more action that has to be done! We can not allow ourselves to rest on our laurels or past spiritual accomplishments. I must continue to respond as God reveals more to me. Only in doing our best to do what is pleasing to Him does He reward us.: For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity. Pg 68
Our lives as servants of God depend upon the constant thought of others and how we might help meet their needs. It is imperative that we strive to help others come into the way of living that has been so freely given us. But how do we go about that?
Let's take a look at step twelve and see what other action needs to be done.