The 12 Steps of AA are built on a trusting relationship with a Higher Power — because human resources alone are not enough to bring about the changes we need.
“To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster…. If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried…. Our human resources, as marshaled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly…. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves.” --Alcoholics Anonymous, fourth edition
Many of us in recovery today have accepted the challenge of discovering and relating to the “God of our understanding” as the 11th Step says: "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.”
On May 9, I’ll present simple and everyday ways to practice this step throughout the day. I’ll share my belief in the power of these practices through one’s Higher Power. Folks who pray on a regular basis, and I define “prayer” broadly, will find some of these practices familiar.
I believe that to receive the fruit of these prayers you need at least two things:
I believe that there is one Supreme Deity Who continually lures seekers, from all of the world’s great cultures and faith traditions. A close look at those traditions reveals that there are many precepts for life and healing that they all hold in common.
Here is what my own Judeo-Christian tradition has to say about God’s promise to all people:
“Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you. Plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. When you call to me and come and pray to me, I shall listen to you. When you search for me, you will find me; when you search wholeheartedly for me, I shall let you find me.” --Jeremiah 29
As a Christian, I believe that Jesus’ saving works and invitation to salvation extend to all people of all times and all places. All people share a common destiny. The God of my understanding teaches that unconditional love is the highest and only supreme law; it is this God Who offers the power to love through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, all-inclusively.
“...and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised and uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.” --Colossians 3:11
Whatever your faith tradition or spiritual orientation, I hope you will join me on May 9 to explore the 11th Step and how we can keep it alive in our minds and hearts all day long.
When I came into AA, I was advised do a series of simple things, many of them seemingly unrelated to my “problem,” all of them somehow “spiritual.” Showing up at meetings, listening, praying, meditating, helping others, doing simple acts of service.
And I was advised to work all twelve Steps, which have been called “spiritual experiences leading to a spiritual awakening.”
With time, I learned that the only act that brought about real and lasting change in my wounded, angry, egocentric personality was deliberately ands consciously giving myself and my problems to a Higher Power, directly in Steps 3 and 7, and indirectly in the other Steps.
I took a particularly firm hold on Step 11, which advises us to make use of resources from the great spiritual and religious traditions of the world as we strive to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power.
In recovery I became very interested in spirituality in many forms, from Zen meditation to Catholic theology, Hindu devotional songs to Jewish mysticism.
On May 9, I’ll talk about some of my adventures in these realms, with particular emphasis on the times that I tried to stay emotionally sober on Hinduism or Buddhism or Catholicism, or a mixture of the above, while de-emphasizing the Program — which is, of course, far less colorful and dramatic. (Hint: things didn’t go too well.)