Perspective: Step 11 – Learning to Listen

by Louise S. (Family Program)

listening-to-god-240x180Step 11 is the bedrock of my 12-step programs. It reminds me that I have a Higher Power to whom I can turn for guidance at any moment of the day. Over many years I have learned to trust that I am being guided and protected in all my actions and that every situation is a learning opportunity.

My upbringing was in a religious household where evening prayers and weekly services were the norm. I was told what was expected of me and I complied. My concept of a Higher Power was that he was benevolent, but certainly expected the rules to be followed. If they weren’t, atonement had to be made.

Learning to reach a place of trust took a long time and I still have temporary struggles with it. The idea of praying for knowledge of God’s will for me was something I had never heard of and trusting that God would know what was best for me was too big a leap of faith. How could I trust that God would listen and would know what was best for me?

Friends told me to “act as if” and when I did, it worked. I was shocked, surprised and delighted. It was as if a different person was inhabiting my body and acting in a way that was far more God-centered and peaceful than I could have done on my own. I was gaining insight as to how this all worked.

Step 11 offers me a solution: prayer and meditation. These two tools are important and helpful resources through which I can experience God’s guidance – and be still so I can hear it.

I begin every day by praying for guidance throughout the day and the willingness to carry that out. I also pray for a day that is productive, joyful and nurturing. Throughout the day when faced with indecision I pray for the right choice to be louder. When stuck with a difficult situation I ask God what He would have me do to take the next right step. These sorts of prayers help me to gain clarity and I am then better able to move forward peacefully.

After prayer I often make a to-do list of things I would like to do and then turn this list over to my Higher Power. At the end of the day I may have accomplished some or all of the things on that list. The important thing for me is that I have given the list to God and have listened to my intuition of where to begin and where to stop. When I take this action I can relax and let the day unfold peacefully.

My mind can be rather punitive at times and want me to believe that I can only be accepted if I DO. Be practicing Step 11, I know that with my Higher Power’s guidance whatever I do during the day is enough. I can let go of thinking that I need to be superhuman and simply accept that I am good enough, no matter what gets done.
In addition to daily prayer, my spiritual practice includes daily readings. It can also include the AA 12 & 12, the Big Book and other literature relating to my different programs. Afterwards, I journal. I find this tool particularly helpful as it lets me put on the page all the thoughts that are rumbling around in my brain and allows me to write out any decisions I need help in solving.

I finish with meditation, which I find especially nurturing. I do it as frequently as I can. I always feel better afterwards but like many things that are good for me I have some resistance. I began by joining a meditation group which was very spiritually and emotionally enriching. I followed through by practicing on my own.
When I don’t feel I can sit in silence, I listen to a guided meditation. Both types help me to be still and focus on my breathing. It brings me in touch with staying in the moment and the knowledge that life is unfolding exactly as it should.

When I take the time to pause and connect with my Higher Power through prayer and meditation, I can move forward with more clarity and peace. It is through the practicing of Step 11 that I continue to gain more trust in “God’s will for me and the power to carry that out.” I am learning that it is not up to me to make the world unfold and I find more peace and serenity when I accept that things are as they should be. I need do nothing but listen.

About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email