by Vinita Hampton Wright


Step 11: We 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.

When we look at most religions, especially the major religions in the world, one thing that is common to most is a person’s intention to become more conscious: more conscious of oneself, more conscious of the world, and more conscious of God, under whatever name. Most spiritual practices are designed to benefit the person, not God. God does not need our help, does not need us to explain our situation, does not need to understand us better. We need the help, we need to understand our situation, we need to understand ourselves better. When we pray or meditate, we are intentionally putting ourselves in a position for becoming more conscious, more aware, and more open to God.

You might think of it this way: God is already awake, but we are always waking up, a little more all the time. God is always in touch with us, but we must overcome all kinds of resistance to reach out and be in touch with God. God has never left the room, but some days we don’t even know what room we’re trying to find.

So, we pray and meditate—and these practices can take many forms. It’s important for a person to find the practice that helps him or her the most. What helps you quiet down and listen? What helps you open your heart to possibility? What helps you remember that God is loving and not waiting for you to screw up? What helps you get honest and say to God what you really mean?

You might need silence, or music. A prayer book or a blank page to draw on. A candle in a dark corner or a sunny spot outdoors. Your task is to try all kinds of ways to help you settle down and open your heart to God who loves you.

The second part of step 11 is to pray for knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry it out. What this means is, we are moving beyond a passive relationship where we sort of sit here and wait for God to do everything. We understand that we are meant to work right alongside God. In our prayer and meditation, we listen to learn what God has for us to do.

The late Jesuit writer and spiritual director William Barry often said that it’s like God has a family business—of healing the world, bringing God’s ways here to earth—and we, as members of God’s family, join in that business. We all work together for God’s “kingdom come, will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We get to participate in God’s majestic work in this world.