Sunday, 21 December 2014

What is the purpose of prayer and meditation?

As Step Eleven indicates, the sole purpose of prayer and meditation is to seek knowledge of God's will and the power to carry that out.

The key word: sole. One might become enlightened or experience altered states as a result, but this is a by-product, not the purpose. A lot of meditation, as discussed in AA, is about learning breathing or other techniques adopted from Eastern religions. The local Buddhist centre is usually teeming with AAs learning how to meditate.

This is, of course, meditation, according to the modern dictionary definition of it. It is not strictly Step Eleven, however, although it may support it immensely, in the same way that making tea at a meeting is the practice of Step Twelve per se but does help make Step Twelve work possible.

Here's Dr Bob's take:

'Prayer, of course, was an important part of Dr Bob's faith. According to Paul S., "Dr Bob's morning devotion consisted of a short prayer, a 20-minute study of a familiar verse from the Bible, and a quiet period of waiting for directions as to where he, that day, should find use for his talent. Having heard, he would religiously go about his Father's business, as he put it." ' (Dr Bob and the Good Oldtimers, p. 314)

I try to follow something resembling this, although it is rarely a familiar verse from the Bible that I use for study.

My purpose: what am I going to do with my day? And sometimes, standing back, what am I going to do with my week, my month, my year, my life?

I then get on with it. My day, from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. (or so) during the week and from 8.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. (or so) at weekends, is given over to fulfilling what duties in my life I'm called upon to fulfil. The remainder of the time is given over to whatever else takes my fancy. 

The test of the efficacy of my Step Eleven is not whether I achieve an emotional connection with the universe but whether I return phone calls promptly (and kindly), whether I do what I said I was going to do when I said I was going to do it, whether I find myself spotting all sorts of ways to be of service that come to me as 'inspiration', and whether I can learn to say 'no' where necessary in order that I do not overcommit, underperform, and burn out because I'm not actually taking the time to enjoy and appreciate my life or the space to let my soul catch up.

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