11th Step: Praying With A Pen by Nora Slattery

step 12 Magazine praying

One of the most powerful of the steps in Alcoholics Anonymous for ongoing recovery is the 11th Step. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of his His will for us and the power to carry that out. This pure and purposeful goal—to keep in contact with God—asks us to find the means to do it.

Prayer and meditation come in many forms. There are deeply meaningful prayers within the Big Book cannon and in traditional religions. The Steps allow us our make our own choices in reaching our Higher Power. One of those choices can be found at the tip of your pen.

We have all sat with our thoughts forming an honest talk, a hopeful wish, and sometimes a plea with our Higher Power. The act of capturing and holding on to those thoughts by writing them down in a journal is a powerful resource for recovery. It serves in the present as a way to focus, to draw out our inner wisdom, and to make a spiritual connection. Over time, by keeping those prayers in a journal we measure our progress in recovery.

There are some helpful techniques to turn writing into a spiritual practice.

Find a quiet, dedicated place to write. It could just be by a window, or outside on a porch or even in a library. Any place that inspires.

Make it a ritual. This is your sacred time. A daily commitment is profound, but just consistent effort matters. A dedicated journal for your prayer practice doesn’t have to be fancy, just put to good use.

Give yourself a writing prompt. It could be from the Big Book or other spiritual literature, a prior entry, or an immediate need. Before you begin, take a few minutes, and a few deep breaths: this will help still the mind and open the door.

No judgment. The only measure of success is your sense of communion with your Higher Power. This may unfold quickly or slowly; it is not one-time test, it is a lifelong practice.

AA is a spiritual program, and calm reflection using a pen and a journal can help bring moments of clarity, connection, and quiet inspiration. This is conscious contact.

Nora Slattery is a certified Journal to the Self™ instructor. She teaches a workshop created by the Center for Journal Therapy. She is currently working on a memoir in the UCLA Writer’s Program. For workshop information: njslattery@gmail.com.