A.A. Prayer and Meditation
Dick B. © 2005. All rights reserved
Meaning of Meditation
Don’t make a big deal about A.A.’s “prayer and meditation.” It’s summarized from Bill Wilson’s standpoint in the Eleventh Step and in his Big Book instructions for “doing” it. It is nothing more than praying and studying or “pondering” what you are reading. Maybe reading some helpful literature if you can’t readily understand the reading. Maybe talking to a rabbi, minister, or priest if you want one-on-one explanations and guidance.
There is an apt description of how Dr. Bob did it. You’ll find it in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. He simply went upstairs in his home three times a day. He prayed. He studied a topic in the Bible. He asked his Creator how he should utilize the rest of the day and then, as he put it, “went about my Father’s business.” That’s the whole shindig. Twenty minutes!
So one simple way to hold a “Quiet Time” the way the Akron pioneers did is to go to a quiet setting and ask your Heavenly Father what He would have you read, what He wishes you to do to serve Him, and then proceed throughout the day to follow His directions for doing His will. Next, you open your Bible and study something the early AAs regularly studied – something directly in the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, or 1 Corinthians 13. You can get some subject topics from The Runner’s Bible if you want to see what to study – topics like “forgiveness,” “love,” guidance from God, “asking and receiving,” and so on. When you’ve finished your prayers and your study, ask our Heavenly Father in the name of His son Jesus Christ just what he wants you to do that will be in accordance with His will and will glorify Him. End of your session.
Why not talk to your Father directly? Why not read His guide book—the Good Book? Why not follow directions?
Do you need a meditation book? A reflections book? An A.A. reflections book? A Hazelden Twenty-Four Hour book? It’s your choice. But Dr. Bob simply pointed to James, Matthew, and Corinthians; and said “read them.”
Did I say anything about “talking” to God?” Or “listening” to the “Voice?” Or writing down laundry lists of thoughts? No I did not. And there is little or no evidence that either Dr. Bob or his wife Anne or even Bill and Lois did that. That’s Oxford Group stuff. And A.A. was not the Oxford Group in Akron, and it’s not the Oxford Group today. Bob and Anne preferred direct prayers to God and simple studies in the Bible for their Quiet Time. What little Bill and Lois did of that nature seemed to consist largely of wading through Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest.” Not “talking” to God. Not “listening” for a “Voice.” Not journaling every word that flowed through their minds. Even the Oxford Group people didn’t use those terms. They prayed. They studied the Bible. They waited for thoughts from God. They wrote down every thought that came to their mind. And they sorted out those they thought were from God. But there’s little or no talk about studying James, the Sermon, 1 Corinthians, or The Runner’s Bible or The Upper Room. Not “God Calling.” Not the Little Red Book Not some commentary or treatise. Why? Because they didn’t do it.
Those were Akron practices to a limited degree. But Akron was focused on the Bible—three brief parts. These were the “absolutely essentials of their program. And, while Oxford Groupers prayed, studied the Bible, waited for “luminous thoughts,” wrote down whatever came their way, and then “checked” the thoughts, the Akron crowd kept it simple.
Akron people looked to the Bible. The Bible tells you precisely how to pray. And Anne Smith’s Journal added details. The Bible tells you how God communicates with those who choose to become His kids. He can speak directly and out loud. He can even write out tablets like the Ten Commandments. He can speak through prophets. He can speak through angels. He gave Jesus Christ the words to speak and spoke to us through His son’s words. He can teach the spirit of those who have received His holy spirit. Most importantly perhaps, He communicates to all those who study and “search the Scriptures” to find exactly what He wants His people to learn and know.
Ø Get into a Father-child relationship with Yahweh, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
Ø Pick up the Bible and search for its truths.
Ø Ask God to guide your reading and explain it. That’s exactly what Anne Smith suggested.
Ø Utilize the Quiet Time in a “quiet” place.
Ø Focus on the Book of James, Matthew 5-7, 1 Corinthians 13. Read them over and over.
Ø Follow God’s directions on prayer – thanksgiving, praise, forgiveness, forsaking disobedience, asking for wisdom and knowledge, asking for healing, praying for others, asking what will serve our Heavenly Father in every area of your life.
Ø Go about your Father’s business.
A Couple of Thoughts from Dr. Bob
Ø Study the Bible and Cultivate the Habit of Prayer
Ø Stick to the real yardsticks of love and service
Ø Yahweh knows His way; He will show it to you on request
Those of you who have taken the time to familiarize yourself with Dr. Bob’s simple remarks will see the following. Over and over Bob spoke of a loving God. Over and over he stressed study of the Good Book. Over and over he pointed to the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians as the most important areas of study. Over and over he referred to his standards of love and service. These were standards in the Christian Endeavor of his youth. They were standards in the Bible. They were the essence of the Twelve Steps as Dr. Bob viewed them.