Prayer & Meditation

For those who are athiest or agnostic, or even just uncomfortable with religious-sounding terms, or masculine pronouns for God, please try to substitute a concept of Program, or guidance, or Nature, or whatever else works for you in this module. “Prayer” may be a little more difficult than “meditation”.


Many people believe that praying means asking God for things or to intervene on behalf of other people. We will not try to argue that this is wrong, but we will point out the suggestion in the Eleventh Step: “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.”

Listen to the will of God This suggests that the praying you do for your recovery consists mainly of listening to the will of God. That can be in a formal prayer, or very informally, in a conversation with that Higher Power, in which your role is that of listener and learner, rather than instructor.

If you can’t listen, you must feel A clergyman friend, also a recovering addict, said that those who do not listen will learn by feel instead. The child who ignores the warning not to touch the hot stove learns through the pain of touching it. Like a child, you can learn through hearing the word of your Higher Power or Program, or through the pain that results from not listening.

It is hard for many to accept that a loving God could use pain as an instrument of learning. But it seems to be the way of life. To turn the negative into a positive, it is also true that people in recovery almost universally gain a greater ability to learn from prayer and from others’ experience without getting into painful situations.

Many addicts even feel better when they realize how much they have learned from the pain of their past. Occasionally an addict grateful for recovery will say, “I wouldn’t take ten million dollars for that experience — nor to repeat it, for that matter.”

Discipline means ordered learning. A disciple is the follower of a teacher. In spiritual matters, then, you become a disciple by following the discipline necessary to receive the will of your Higher Power.


To some people, prayer and meditation are essentially the same, while to others they are totally different. The difference, if any, seems to do mostly with how active your Higher Power is in the process. An atheist may not relate to the word prayer at all, and see meditation as an inner searching. Someone with a strong faith in God may see little difference between the two, unless prayer has somewhat more to do with talking to God and meditation a little more with listening to the will of God.

Discipline of solitude You must get away from the hectic demands of your everyday life if you are to meditate to learn the will of your Higher Power, or to learn more about your relationship with your world.

Think of getting your car stuck in the snow. Stepping on the gas, trying to go faster, won’t help you — in fact it might make it worse. Meditation is like getting out of the car and finding some sticks to slip under the drive wheels.

To make meditation a part of your life, make yourself a space of retreat, where you are unlikely to be interrupted. It can be a walk in a park, a quiet part of your house, or whatever you can find. Set time, if possible, as well as a definite length of time, starting perhaps with ten minutes. As you begin to realize the benefit of this meditation, you may wish to increase it.

Discipline of community In a spiritual community, such as a church, a temple, or even a Twelve-Step fellowship, you can share what you have learned in solitude. Those who only parrot what they have heard in community, such as Twelve-Step meetings, may have little recovery to share. It is the discipline of solitude combined with the discipline of community that produces the strongest spiritual experiences.

Other meditation ideas There are schools for specific techniques for meditation based on Eastern philosophies like Buddhism that believe meditation is a key to enlightenment. Ideas from these models can be found in popular tools for spiritual growth, stress management, and relaxation techniques.

It will help your recovery to learn to quiet your mind, to stop obsessive thinking, and to concentrate without distraction. You may wish to try classes in prayer, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or other meditation or relaxation techniques.

Meditation books and other program literature can be helpful for meditation. You might look for a subject in the index and then meditate on that reading.

A church or other spiritual group might provide useful ideas on meditation. Daily devotional books or magazines often give positive affirmative readings and guidelines for meditation.

Tangents The main danger with any meditation discipline is that you might get “off track,” concentrating so much on the particular discipline that you might ignore the rest of your recovery.

Prayer & meditation, see also: Affirmations, Beliefs, Grace, Gratitude, Habit & structure, Higher Power, Magical thinking, Program, Relapse prevention, Relaxation, Serenity, Sleep, Spiritual aspects, Spirituality, Step Six, Step Eight, Step Eleven, Step Twelve, Surrender.

Updated 11 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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