Learning to Listen

STEP ELEVEN
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.

My first Step sponsor told me I could begin to practice Step Eleven early in my OA program. I did not need to wait until I had worked the preceding ten Steps.

Prayer for me, until then, had just been asking God for things I thought I needed; basically “God, please give me _____.” But my sponsor had me stick with the basics each morning. I prayed the Serenity Prayer and prayed the prayers for Steps One, Two, and Three—preferably on my knees. Sometimes it was just “I can’t, God can, and I think I’ll let God!” The third Step Prayer also became crucial. “God, I offer myself to Thee . . . . May I do your will always!” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 63). My sponsor had me focus on one idea every week from For Today or Voices of Recovery and discuss the changes in my relationships to God and others.

Prayer is when we talk to God. Meditation is when we listen to God. I became curious about how I could add meditation to my program, and I found answers right after the famous Ninth Step promises (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th. ed. pp. 83–84). Many twelve steppers read these promises (and the suggestions through p. 88) daily, since our daily reprieve is based on maintaining our t spiritual condition.

I attended a session of guided meditation in which we learned to sit quietly and use the Tool of writing. After pouring our hearts out to God, talking to him as we would our best friend, we were asked to listen silently. As ideas came into our minds, we jotted them down quickly.

We sat still for about five minutes, which can seem like an eternity to beginners in meditation. At the end of the session, we went around the circle, and people shared the messages that perhaps God had sent. A key suggestion was that some thoughts may arise from our own self-will, so it is best to share our writings with a sponsor or another person who can be objective to help us decide whether to act on any guidance we receive.

Soon I fell in love with my morning time spent with my Higher Power. It became a time I longed for on the days I missed it. It gave me incredible peace and serenity as I dealt with death, loss, illness, and pain. It has not been my willpower or self-discipline that enabled me to go from 300 pounds (136 kg) to 140 pounds (64 kg) and stabilize at this weight. My healing has been a miracle from my Higher Power. He has spoken to me through my many wonderful sponsors and through OA-approved literature. The prayers my wonderful OA family said for me have made a tremendous di erence in my life.

Thank you, God, and thank you, OA, for saving my life. I will be eternally grateful.

— Mary A., Austin, Texas USA