The Essence of Spiritual Practice

Bill managed to distill the essence of spiritual practice into the 32 words of Step Eleven: “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.”

I guess I should split this article into two groups of individuals: 1) Those who have a faith or are able and willing to “give it a go”, and 2) Those who are unable.

To the second group I suggest they have a close look at their step 4 and consider why they have issues with a “God”/creator, and ask themselves honestly does it have anything thing to do with human history and religious institutions and human conflicts associated in anyway? Someone once said “you can’t judge the light of the moon by its dark spots”. Our resentments can indeed cloud and prejudice us. Once such issues have been sidestepped pertaining to human frailty or the “hows or whys “ of any human suffering (accepting that perhaps some things are beyond our full perception) maybe you might be more able to “give it a go”. If they are still unable then the group can remain their higher power.

Faiths may differ to the nature and process of prayer and meditation but they have some common essential features. In prayer I take a humble position of surrender and either by repeating set prayers (and there are many) slowly and sincerely or by talking with ones’ God one-to-one with an open heart and trust. Dr Bob said “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down”. Like Bill he had experienced again the peace and comfort that a faith can bring.

To be honest writing this is good for me. I don’t practice my step 11 anywhere nearly enough and have drifted away perilously far. So I’m grateful to have been asked to write this. I say my prayers religiously in the morning and at night, but rather mechanically (which is better than nothing!) But I have been missing out, I only seem to get close to God in prayer when a crisis comes. (I have one in my life just recently as it happens- so the timing for all of this is perfect). And such a crisis “sharpens my blade” in terms of actively seeking God for advice and strength and guidance. Without faiI I always feel a tangible sense of healing and comfort and the strength to carry on and do the right thing.

‘It has been well said that “almost the only scoffers at prayer are those who never tried it enough.”’

Sean, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth