A.A. Oldtimes…On the Eleventh Step…
A.A. Grapevine, September 1945, Vol. 2 No. 4
Editorial: On the 11th Step. . .
"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."
IT is often wisely said in A.A. that we should not become over-anxious, should not expect to get the whole program overnight, but should take the steps one at time when we feel that we are ready for them. This means that although we are not ready at a given time to take this step or that one and are, therefore, not then taking it, we should be disposing ourselves toward it. It never means that we should plan on avoiding any of the steps.
Practice of the 11th Step is the surest method of disposing oneself toward all the other steps. It was only through seeking contact with God through meditation and prayer that some of us came to believe in Him and became willing to turn our wills and our lives over to Him. The wish to improve that contact, the searching for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out, gives us strength to make amends, to do the things necessary to remake our lives.
Unless we improve our contact with God we will gradually lose it. There will be a slow return to indifference and we will suffer that let-down that so many experience after a few months in A.A. Gradually old desires return with increasingly great urgency. The alteration in conduct that we have made for a few months has not been sufficiently sustained to lead to a change in character, and the deeper habit patterns reassert themselves. Growth in spiritual understanding alone will dispose us to make the effort to recondition ourselves, to change our emotional attitudes and bring about a true character change.
For specific suggestions for practicing the 11th Step we turn to the book Alcoholics Anonymous, as we do on all A.A. questions, before going ahead on our own. Applying the wisdom we find there, we turn with newly awakened interest and intensity to the practices of our particular religious denomination, if we have one; we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers; we may study the recorded thoughts of others; but in any event we make it a practice in the morning to ask God to guide us during the day, and thank Him at the day's close for His many blessings. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends, but ask especially for freedom from self-will and knowledge of God's will for us.
Some of us have found the following verse helpful on awakening, when all our wishes and hopes for the day rush at us like wild animals; the first thing we must do is shove them all back, and listen to that other voice, letting a calmer, quieter, stronger life flow into us:"Every morning rest your arms awhile upon the window-sill of Heaven and gaze upon your Lord, and with that vision in your heart turn strong to meet your day."
All of which, of course, is calculated to keep us from taking that first drink. It works --it really does.
Garden City, New York