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Learning To Pray

STEP Eleven talks about prayer and meditation, important things in my life today,

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STEP Eleven talks about prayer and meditation, important things in my life today, but something I knew nothing about, when I arrived in AA over twenty-five years ago. When I arrived, I did know about drinking, I also knew about pain, despair, self-pity, depression, and having suicidal thoughts. How I felt that first day is very well described in the Big Book: “No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in that bitter morass of self-pity. Quicksand stretched around me in all directions. I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master.” (BB p.8) 

When I arrived, I had no idea how AA worked. I did not know that it is a complete spiritual Programme of recovery involving Twelve Steps, service and sponsorship; designed to help us connect with a Power greater than ourselves, which will allow us to stop drinking. “Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves.” (BB p.45)

I did enjoy my first meeting. For the first time ever, I felt I'd met people who had thoughts like mine. People were sharing, and they were talking about things that were going on in my head. I was taken for tea afterwards. I did talk about all the painful things going on in my life. I talked about my drinking, a girlfriend who had just left me, my suicidal thoughts, but I was also interested to know what these people were doing, for they had been sober for some years, but you could see they were not only sober, but happy and content in their lives. They then introduced me to some of the spiritual things they did each day, all of which sounded very strange at the time, but when I put them into practice, I found that firstly, I didn't drink, or want to drink, and secondly, I actually started to feel cheerful and content with life.

In the café, after we chatted for a time, they asked me if I was powerless over alcohol, the first part of Step One. I said I most certainly was, they then said that I needed to try and connect with a Power greater than myself. They said that the way they did this, was by getting on their knees each night and morning. At night, to thank a Power greater than themselves for keeping them sober that day, and each morning, to get on their knees and ask this same Power to keep them sober that day, all so they could help other alcoholics, their families and society. 

They had also prayed for ex-partners, “…for their health, their prosperity, their happiness…” (BB p.552) as they said this leads to freedom from resentment. Boy did it seem strange, very strange advice, it was not what I was expecting. However, I was in so much pain, I did it that night and the next morning - and have got on my knees every night and morning since then. In that time, I have never had or wanted a drink, thank God. I now realise that what happened to me is beautifully said like this, “When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.” (BB p.25)

So, from my first day in AA, I was introduced to prayer, something that I never did before AA, but something that is now an essential part of my life. The great thing about the way it was suggested to me was that I was allowed to make my own words up and I was able to have my own concept of God - an idea I never had before coming to AA. This idea is one of the many spiritual things about life-saving AA. It is beautifully said in the Big Book, "My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, “Why don't you choose your own conception of God?”” (BB p.12)

I went to lots of meetings and learned so much. To me, AA is the great Spiritual University of the world. I kept hearing about sponsorship and asked this chap to help me. He beautifully and wisely took me through the Steps, something I knew nothing about when I arrived. I would suggest that the Steps are ego-deflating. I found that by doing them, together with saying the Serenity Prayer, making daily gratitude lists, phoning newcomers and doing service with a smile - I didn't want to drink. My head was becoming calmer, which of course made it easier to meditate, something I now do daily. Step Eleven mentions this when it says, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him…” (BB p.59)

The Big Book says, “What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” (BB p.85) So, daily I pray and meditate asking a God of my own understanding to keep me sober, all so I can help others. I also know that no matter what I do, I can never ever repay the beauty and happiness that has come into my life since coming to the free, wonderful, spiritual, life-saving Rooms of AA. Hip Hip AA, God bless all. 

DENNIS, Ealing