Have you ever been on a carnival ride and wanted to get off because it was making you sick? When I was 11 or 12 my sister and I were on a Tea Cup ride in Bellingham, Washington that went on, and on, and on. It started out fun, but soon made us sick. Admittedly, the Tea Cup is a very tame ride (I can hear my friends – and wife - mocking me now :), but by the time we got off the ride we were both feeling so sick we were considering sticking our fingers down our throats to try end the misery!
Have you ever felt that way about life? Have you ever said “I can’t stand the swirl that my life is right now, and I want to get off, but can’t?” I sure have. There have been times in my life when I have been so miserable, and busy, and feeling trapped, that I have asked God to let me get rich, check out, and go live in a secluded log cabin near Whistler, or a condo in Hawaii, or both! For the next few days I want to talk about escaping the “swirl” that life can sometimes be, in healthy life enhancing ways, and how to find peace through prayer, and Jesus Christ.
I want to start with some of the lessons I’ve learnt through the 12 Step Program because some of the core teachings of the program involve taking care of oneself and ending the “swirl.” Most addicts are caught in a destructive cycle that doesn’t seem to have an end, and by the time they darken the door of a 12 Step Meeting they are desperate to find a way to end the madness that their life has become.
If you are reading this right now, your life may not be at this depth of insanity, but there are things we can all learn from the 12 Steps about prayer and taking care of ourselves. I think, addict or not, and in today’s society it’s hard to find someone who isn’t addicted in some way to one thing or another, we all desperately need to practice this step.
Did you know that the 11th Step is about prayer and meditation? Here it is:
“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.”1
The 11th Step is what people in the 12 Step Program call a “maintenance step.” In other words, you usually get to this step when you have some sobriety, although under the care and guidance of a sponsor, you can start this particular step as soon as you feel comfortable doing it.
People in the 12 steps have discovered, through the 72 years or so that the program has been around, that prayer and meditation, and improving ones conscious contact with God, are powerful ways to maintain lifesaving sobriety and transforming lives.
If it works for the addict, shouldn't it work for everyone else as well?
I’ve never met a sober addict who doesn’t practice this step to one degree, or another. For example, I have a friend in the program and his way of praying and meditating involves walking his dog for an hour or two each day. As he’s out walking he thinks about his life, monitors his feelings and thoughts, presents his problems to God, and prays for other addicts in the program. You wouldn’t have wanted to know this guy in his active addiction days, however, after years of struggle, pain, and practice, he is now one of the most humble, and wise people you could ever meet.
In a way, I think addicts who embrace this step are almost at an advantage. They have been to the bottom and they KNOW they need this step to stay and grow their relationship with God. Prayer and meditation, improving their conscious contact with God, have become almost a matter of life or death. They know that unless they do this step there is a chance that they will slip back into addiction, which literally could mean an early death, and on their way to the grave, considerable pain for themselves, and those they love. After a certain period of time, the peace and the deepening relationship with God that one experiences through this step, becomes the internal motivating factor: something the addict never wants to compromise again.
learning to pray: what can you do today to improve your conscious contact with God?