Step 11 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Now that you’ve been on your journey for 10 of the 12 steps in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), you are ready to begin step 11. AA is a path to recovery from alcohol, and during this step, you will be encouraged to go deeper into your life of spirituality. You will begin to explore how your life has a purpose and a plan, as does everyone’s life. Each person is unique and special, and through this 11th step, prayer and meditation can help you can find purpose in your life to move forward.1
The Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program is an excellent program that guides people into a pathway of sobriety. Through admitting past wrongs, making amends, and acknowledging a higher power, participants improve their quality of life.1
What Is Step 11 of AA?
Step 11 of AA involves participants finding help, purpose, and power in their present and future life by practicing prayer and meditation. The exact wording of step 11 is as follows:1
“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.”
During this step, you will be creating a solid foundation for your future, as you are almost to the end of the 12-step program.1 This step will take you deeper into a peaceful and fulfilled life by helping you to find greater meaning for your life.1 Some people who have led a life of alcoholism may mistakenly think that due to their past actions, they cannot have a fulfilling or beautiful future. However, in the 11th step prayer and meditation will show you how every life has great value and wonderful purpose.1 No matter what your past was like, you are now looking forward and entering a new phase of life—a new beginning.1 That means you have a new opportunity to make something wonderful out of your life. This step is where you will seek for that purpose, which is God’s will for your life. You’ll also need your higher power to assist you in carrying out that purpose because, as you’ve learned, you cannot achieve your goals alone.
Recovery offers a time for you to be continuously developing in every way—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. With exposure to new situations and new people, you have had opportunities to put into practice all the skills and steps you’ve learned prior to this, especially as it relates to dealing with people. You’ve also improved your physical health as you are living a sober life day by day. Now, during step 11, it’s time to move forward to improve your spiritual connections in life so that you are complete.1 The other steps you’ve been taking up to this point have strengthened you and improved your relationship with yourself, with others, and it has strengthened you in a spiritual way, too.
As you might recall, in steps 2 and 3, the 12-step program addressed how participants are not to rely on themselves but on a ‘Higher Power.’2 For many people, this means relying on God and the Bible. For others, it may mean simply letting go of their self-will.
11th Step Prayer & Meditation
The main crux of this 11th step is prayer and meditation, so let’s talk about that for a moment. During step 11, you are encouraged to call out in prayer whenever you have a need, a temptation, or simply want additional inspiration.1 You might say, “I’m not a religious person.” That’s quite alright. Even people who are not religious can gain a lot from this step. For example, think about the last time you had an emergency. You probably instinctively (even quietly in your mind) called out for help. You didn’t consider yourself to be praying; you were just experiencing a problem, and inwardly, you called for help.1 This may not even be considered a “prayer” by some definitions, but that is what step 11 is all about.1 It simply means that when you need any type of assistance, don’t rely solely on your own strength or power, but rather reach outward for help.1
You must recognize that you are powerless and in need of help that comes from outside of yourself.1 You don’t have to say a lot of words out loud or say any special kind of words to complete step 11. Calling out for help when in need is a universal action that we all understand.
Of course, many people do find comfort in actually praying out loud or saying God’s name when they pray. That’s perfectly fine too. There is no right or wrong way to do this step.
Remember that you don’t have to wait until you are having a problem or need to practice step 11. You can find solace and comfort in prayer and meditation when you are thankful and happy too. You might feel like expressing gratitude in your heart for accomplishing another day of being sober, or you might find thankfulness within you for nature, good health, and so on. These acts of gratitude also strengthen your spiritual connection.
Prayer and meditation enhance the quality of your recovery. However, it’s vital to continue attending AA meetings so you can receive the full benefits to heal.
Step 11 Questions to Ask Yourself
It’s always helpful to take time each day to assess how you are doing. It keeps you accountable and ensures that you stay on the road to recovery. To help you with this process, you can ask yourself a series of questions such as the following to stimulate your thinking:
- Have I changed my understanding of a “higher power” since starting the 12-step program?
- What does prayer mean to me? What does meditation mean to me?
- Am I on a spiritual path right now? If so, what is it?
- Do I see a difference between religion and spirituality? If so, what is the difference?
- Am I exploring my own spirituality? If so, how am I accomplishing this?
- Do I gain help from practicing this step of prayer and meditation? Does it help me put things in perspective?
- What impact have prayer and meditation had on my life?
- Have I noticed the presence of a higher power working in my life? What has that experience been like?
- Am I taking steps to improve my spiritual connections?
- Have I found what my purpose for life is? If so, what is it?
- Am I aligning my will with God’s will for the future?
- Am I committed to working on the 11th step in my recovery?
- When was the last time I prayed or meditated?
- Do I believe that I can accomplish whatever the purpose and will are for my life? Do I have the courage to move forward to accomplish it?
As you continue on the pathway of healing and sobriety, the 11th step will help you along the way.
Next: Step 12
Previous: Step 10