Powerless Over Alcohol & Life: Step 11
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.
To be able to work a continual Step 10, and an entire twelve step program, something had to give. As long as I still thought I had a will, even one turned over to God (as in Step three), I was in for trouble. That will would still argue with God’s will, and if I saw it as just me, I would eventually give in to it again, not having any power to not give in. In Step eleven, unlike step three, we are acknowledging and receiving God’s direction and will to deal with life on a daily basis, and giving up any consideration of a will of our own. This is the pillar upon which the entire program stands.
When God wrote the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous through Bill W., He knew that every addict (everyone in the human race) would be dealing with a lifetime of consequences resulting from a life that had been run on self-will. The pain of coming to terms with and repenting of a past full of humiliating details would be affecting our choices. And of course Satan has convinced us that we’re just ourselves so we review a life of destruction through seemingly independent eyes. The clean, clear sunlight of God’s spirit is blocked. Satan’s lie sabotages every attempt to improve conscious contact with God. (…light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil; for every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved; but he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest…John 3:19-21.) Who would want to get closer with those kinds of secrets and this kind of shame? So, God just built in a housecleaning system. In the process of cleaning up all of those dirty secrets, we were also practicing faith choices that would armor us from Satan’s lies. We would learn to do what we were told, in spite of fear. We could always just do the next right thing. That was steps 1-10. They were preparing us to be willing to seek God and God only, for we had faced fully the wreckage of a life run on self-will. It was much easier, in fact, a relief and a gift to find we had the opportunity to dump a "selfwill" and exchange it for God’s will only. We were not ready for that in Step three’s letting go of our will. So Step eleven takes us deeper and further to the real truth we were not willing to see before, that there is only God’s will, and no will of our own to operate us (…worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, Eph. 1:11). Self-will is in reality Satan’s will operating our powerless vessel by our own choice.
My prayers now become prayers for God’s will and direction instead of the first, Santa Claus-type prayers that I used to pray. I used to pray for things I wanted, I needed, or God do this or that. These prayers were never effective and I couldn’t understand why, so in my alcoholic ways, I ended up thinking I was gypped; all the time I wouldn’t even be thinking of using that prayer to have contact with God. That was the farthest thing from my mind, the very thing I was running from!
I had never wanted conscious contact with God. If I had a closer contact with God, I would have to stop doing what I wanted to do and start doing what God wanted me to do. I had already tried self-effort and knew that that was a big mistake. I had messed everything up royally: the harder I tried to do it right the worse of a mess I made. And besides, I didn’t want to give up doing what made me feel good. I think of how I would lie, always knowing from the beginning I was lying. I never told a lie that I didn’t know was a lie before I told it. So lying is a conscious choice. If this were not the case, God would be setting me up. He would be taking away my freedom to choose and then condemning me for not choosing right. If I did not have the freedom to choose in each and every circumstance that life presented me with, God would be a liar and I would be at Satan’s mercy. He who is in me would NOT be greater than he who is in the world. I would have no access to that Power within me that can rescue me from any temptation immediately simply by my choice to line up with who I am. What good would it do me to be Christ in my form if I couldn’t operate from it?
I had always thought that this God thing was boring and no fun. Why would I want to choose to get closer to that? I see the insanity of that line of thinking now. It shows that I was playing God, thinking I controlled my own circumstances. By the time I reached Step eleven, I was so sick and disgusted with what my "fun" life had done to my family and the people around me, that I was ready to try God’s "boring" way. By now, it looked mighty attractive and serene. I was ready to live a life of God’s will only, Christ living out this through human form.
PRAYER AND MEDITATION
The first part of this Step is only giving advice. It simply gives information on how to improve my conscious contact with God. I use prayer and meditation. It makes sense to me. Any venture I have ever undertaken, I wanted to know everything I could about it to insure that it would be successful. I went to the experts, the manufacturers of whatever material I would be using, and mostly to the people who were using this method successfully, and I picked their brains on how they were making it work. I figured that was how it would work for me, too. This was my form of meditation.
I guess I should explain how I felt about meditation before I heard of the twelve steps. It was not good. I thought that meditation was something gurus and their followers did. I certainly didn’t think it had anything to do with God. I was pretty leery of this part of Step eleven.
What I have come to know is the truth about meditation. According to Webster, meditation is "…close or continued thought; the renewing or revolving of a subject in the mind." Close or continued thought is what I am talking about here!
Discussing with others, getting their ideas and input, finding out how they made it work or what didn’t work, and also letting them in on how I am thinking so they can see any area where I’m not getting a clear picture of who I am; that, to me, is improving my conscious contact with God through meditation.
The second half of this step is praying only for the knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out. It doesn’t say anything about Him needing my knowledge. It took me a while to get used to that. I always thought He needed my input on everything. All God needs is a vessel to carry out His will and power. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13.).
The eleventh Step reminds me of Noah. Noah had to have a close conscious contact with God. I don’t believe God just pulled Noah’s name out of a hat, and said, "Noah, build me an ark, because a big rain is going to come and flood everything." Noah didn’t know what rain or a flood even was, because it had never rained before. God knew Noah would carry the task out through prayer, meditation, and their conscious contact with each other. Noah was only a vessel to carry out God’s power and will. Then, after receiving his information from God, Noah didn’t sit around and wait for some proof or ark to appear, he got up and went to work, carried out some action only on the understanding and knowledge that God had given him. Remember it had never rained before and he probably didn’t even know what a boat was. Noah put up with a lot to be able to carry out God’s will. He was instantly the town joke, fool and idiot. But Noah didn’t stop, he kept on hammering and building; he kept on for one hundred years, believing only in the knowledge of God’s will and having the power to carry it out. He kept on believing it was going to rain, whatever rain was, he kept believing it was going to come, because he kept on building.
This is the same way that the eleventh step, as well as all the other steps, have worked for me. God only asks me to be a vessel of His to carry out a duty. Much of the information given to me, like the information given to Noah, seems strange, difficult, and crazy, but by praying only for the knowledge of God and His will and the power to carry it out, I will go through with it. I know God is faithful, because I have seen Him work in each and every step so far exactly as He said He would, and the very fact that I am sober proves it. I no longer do anything. I make a conscious choice that I want it to be done by me, because I know it will rain, even as it did for Noah. He had to wait one hundred years for the rain, but it did rain. It still does rain from time to time, but through knowing nod’s will in the eleventh step, there no longer has to be a flood.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 9 No 5
- Romans Six to Eight, Paul’s Key to the Liberated Life
- To Think About
- Editor’s Note
- The Committee
- Moments With Meryl
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Book Review: Continuous Revival
- Questsions & Answers
- Perfect Containers
- God Always Gets His Way
- Powerless Over Alcohol & Life: Step 11
- The Mailbox
- You’re Only As Sick As Your Secrets
- From Death To Life
- Words To Live By