Prayer For an Inner Serenity of Heart and Mind
Inner Healing Prayer with Psalm 46
What have you done with the painful things you’ve experienced in your past? How might they be influencing you today?
We may try to forget painful memories and move on but in that case the problem lives on deep inside us, affecting how we relate to God, others, and ourselves in ways that we may not realize. Anxiety, depression, addiction, and chronic relationship problems usually have roots in a history of being rejected, abused, or growing up in a dysfunctional family.
Common problems insecurity, anxiety, self-condemnation, or chronic tiredness may also be related to wounds or conflicts of the past that we haven’t healed from. Even physical problems ranging from serious illnesses to common headaches may be caused in part by internalized stress and repressed emotion. How we respond to the painful situations of life is a BIG deal.
Inner Healing Prayer
Inner Healing Prayer is a way to invite the Spirit of Christ to minister to the inner parts of our person that have been damaged.
Sometimes this is called “Healing of Memory Prayer,” but usually the problem is less about the memory and more about the wounded or conflicted personality.
(What makes the memory especially important is that it gives us access to the inner wound or conflict and how our personality may have been malformed.)
Typically inner healing prayer is done in conversation with a counselor or other prayer minister who offers God’s compassion and discernment under the leading of the Holy Spirit.The key to benefiting from this process is opening your mind and heart to Jesus to allow him to enter into the memory or hurt place to minister his grace and truth.
Many people experience significant breakthroughs into personal freedom or healing by connecting profoundly with Jesus through this kind of inner healing prayer.
(Here are some more Soul Shepherding articles on “Healing Prayer.”)
Another way that we have invited Jesus to heal our hearts and the hearts of people we minister to is through praying a Scripture passage contemplatively while remembering the painful event from the past. To pray contemplatively is to Be Still in God’s presence as you marinate yourself in the Word.
Drinking From the Psalm 46 “River That Makes Glad”
Psalm 46 is a wonderful tool for inner healing prayer. It is such a gift to us! It has some famous lines that are well-known by most earnest followers of Christ.
But the real benefit comes when we meditate on the whole psalm, especially if we memorize it because that helps us to meditate further on it and makes it more profoundly available to us for personal prayer.
If we take the words, insights, structure, and rhythms of Psalm 46 into our bodies and minds and then we open up our heart to God in a special time of prayer it is truly remarkable how God can use this psalm to bring us his healing!
1st Meditation: Listen for a Word
“There is a river that makes glad the city of God.” And it is here in Psalm 46!
Pray Psalm 46 s-l-o-w-l-y to help you drink from God’s living waters. As you do this, notice that there are three sections, each ending with a “Selah.” Selah means pause quietly to reflect and pray. Selah helps you to drink from the still waters of God’s love by hearing his Word to you. Selah helps you to be still and enjoy God’s presence.
As you read Psalm 46 now what word or phrase from Psalm 46 does the Holy Spirit especially impress upon your heart? Let this word come to life inside you…
2nd Meditation: Imagine the Scenes
Read and pray Psalm 46 again. This time use your imagination to picture the images and scenes of the Psalm. Notice the sharp contrasts between the distressing physical circumstances and the encouraging spiritual realities. Observe the differences between the government of people and that of God.
In Psalm 46 we see and feel frightening images of an earthquake, tidal wave, uproar amongst the nations, and war. Maybe you have been through fearful things in your past? Maybe you are experiencing conflict or great stress now?
As we already said, Psalm 46 offers us the river that makes glad the city of God. This is part of the Kingdom of God, the ultimate and eternal refuge and fortress for all who call on the Lord. Indeed, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.”
But when we go through suffering it may feel God hasn’t been our refuge.
When do we experience God’s help? We find that indeed God is our refuge when we look beyond our circumstances into spiritual reality and submit to his kingdom rule.
What blessed peace is ours when we see and trust the invisible Kingdom of God in the midst of our visible world at war! Indeed, our personal anxieties and hurts can give way to God’s word of peace: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Try imagining the scenes of Psalm 46, especially the Kingdom of God, as you re-read it now…
To help you enter more deeply into the Selah rest of Psalm 46 contemplate just these three key verses that minister God’s presence and kingdom to us:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble… Selah…
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God… Selah…
Be still and know that I am God… Selah…
Now it’s time to recall a painful memory or struggle and invite Jesus to minister God’s healing power to you. Ask God to help you…
Imagine what happened. See yourself as a child or vulnerable person in that situation and deep inside of you today. (The child of your history may be the child in your heart today.) Feel your emotions and needs…
Consider that during that painful situation the risen Christ was present with you in Spirit, but probably this was in ways that you didn’t notice or appreciate.At that time you weren’t able or didn’t know how to put your confidence fully in the Lord and enter into the spiritual reality that God’s kingdom truly is your refuge.
God is in the eternal now, where past, present, and future are one, so ask the Lord Jesus to come to you in this memory and show you how he was and is present for you…
Take as much time as you need to be quiet and still before the Lord. You’re offering your painful memory to God as if it were a movie screen. Look and listen for Jesus, paying attention to any images, thoughts, or sensations that he may bring into your awareness…
It may help you to calm your thoughts and keep your mind and heart open to God if you return to contemplating on one of the lines the from Psalm 46 (e.g., “God is our refuge… There is a river… Be still…”)…
Continue in God’s Healing
Inner healing prayer for a particular memory, wound, or conflict is an ongoing process that deepens with time. So it’s helpful to repeat this Psalm 46 meditation.
Furthermore, to fully absorb and integrate into your personality God’s blessing you need to appreciate it.
So make sure to give thanks to God for any ways that your Psalm 46 meditation has helped you to experience him as your “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.”
The other way to further your healing from Christ through this Psalm 46 meditation and prayer is to talk to someone you trust about your experience.
Inner Healing Prayer Heals The Painful Scenes In Your Heart and Mind
Inner healing is one of the most powerful prayer approaches we use. It is inviting Jesus into the scene of a painful memory, looking and then seeing Him appear on the screen inside our mind. We invite Him to move freely, tune to flow and watch the flowing pictures (vision) and receive flowing thoughts (His voice).
Patti’s mom had just died within the last two days, and all Patti could see in her mind’s eye was the last time she had visited her mom in the hospital, which was the day before her death. Patti’s mom was shriveled up in the bed, at 86 pounds or so, and in tremendous physical pain. She was barely conscious.
This was in stark contrast to the way her mom had lived all of Patti’s life. Her mom had been a noble woman with great poise and grace.
So Patti prayed an inner healing prayer. She asked the Lord to let her see her mom as He saw her.
The picture that lit upon Patti’s mind, while in prayer, was her mom in heaven, hand in hand with her dad, who had gone there several years earlier. They were dancing together in a lush green field. They were in the prime of their life. Her dad once again had a full head of hair, and her mom had the BIGGEST smile on her face Patti had ever seen (as her mom had been prone to melancholy).
Wow! All the pain in Patti’s heart vanished immediately and Patti was filled with JOY at seeing them so happy in heaven, and even dancing, which was something their church had never allowed.Patti told me several times that whenever I tell this story to also share another important truth.
“You need to continue to focus on the NEW picture, and NEVER look back at the old picture, if you want the emotions of your heart to remain healed.”
As we know, emotions are by-products of the pictures we gaze upon. So If I don’t the emotions I am experiencing, I simply ask God to help me identify the picture I am looking at in my mind which doesn’t contain Him in it.
That picture, of course, contains a lie, which is that Jesus isn’t present, everywhere, all the time. Since He is omnipresent, He is everywhere I look (Ps. 139:8). I am asking Jesus to show me the truth.
“Lord, where were You in that situation?” The new picture I receive is a picture of Truth.
Pictures containing lies produce negative emotions of fear, anger, hurt and bitterness. Pictures containing Jesus present, moving and speaking produce Kingdom emotions of love, joy and peace.
One skill we want to establish in life is that of abiding in Christ (Jn. 15). This means seeing Him at your side all the time as you walk through the day (Acts. 2:25). So now when a tense or painful experience arises, we turn to Jesus right on the spot and see what He is doing and experience the release of His presence, emotions and power, right in that moment.
Here is a powerful story of a veteran being healed of 35 years of PSTD through inner healing and deliverance. Here is another testimony: The Most Effective Inner Healing Program on the Planet!
Review the Keys of Inner Healing
Inner Healing Defined: “Allowing God to replace the pictures in the art gallery of your mind, removing pictures that do not have Jesus in them and replacing them with pictures that do have Jesus in them.”
Scripture: We are transformed “while we look” (2 Cor. 3:18; 4:17,18). Seeing what Jesus did and hearing Him, HEALS!!! A picture is worth 1000 words, which is one key reason inner healing is so powerful.
Step 1 – Using vision, go back and see the painful scene for one second ONLY. (You don’t want to be re-traumatized, you just want to be present and feel a bit of the emotion.)
Step 2 – Using vision, invite Jesus into the scene. Look at the pictures that will alight on your inner screen.
Step 3 – Using vision, invite Jesus to move freely. Tune to flowing pictures and thoughts and cooperate as Jesus heals the hurt with His loving presence.
A Biblical example of this three step inner healing process would be the trauma Peter experienced when he denied Jesus three times. This occurred at dawn around a charcoal fire (Matt. 26:69-75).
Jesus healed this trauma by resetting the scene in which the trauma occurred (Jn.
21:2-17 – dawn, charcoal fire and three fold confession) and Jesus ministered love and acceptance into the midst of that trauma, allowing Peter the freedom to go on and fulfill his destiny.
In your morning devotions for a number of days, ask Jesus to bring to your attention any painful scenes you are holding within. As they come to your attention, jot them down, and then one by one present them to Jesus, asking to see Him present.
Where does He appear in the scene? What He is doing? Journal out what transpires. Follow and cooperate with His leading. If he is touching you, soak in that touch and feel His energy entering, transforming and healing your body. Forgive and release all involved so your prayers are not hindered (1 Pet.
3:7 – HONOR everyone, rather than judging, despising and hating – Mk. 11:25). As you work with one or two scenes daily in your devotional times, you may find this inner healing prayer process will take you several weeks to complete. Take the time.Full inner healing of ALL painful scenes in your mind is a priceless gift allowing you to walk steadfastly in Kingdom emotions and Kingdom power. So each morning you ask a simple question.
“Lord, is there any painful scene from my past that You would to heal today?” When no more scenes float into you attention, this prayer approach is complete for the time being. Move on to additional prayer approaches.
Rita Bennet has a wonderful book, Emotionally Free, which lays out many testimonies of the above approach to inner healing. I actually use the inner healing steps from her book. It was Fr. Matthew Linn, SJ and Dennis Linn who initially introduced us to these steps to inner healing.
See a listing of more than 40 Spirit-anointed ways to pray.
Watch For Free
Right now we are running the Counseled by God video series for free, which includes a segment on Inner Healing Prayer.
The Serenity Prayer and the Meaning of TRUE Acceptance
“God, grant me the Serenity to Accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”
~ theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
Recovery and 12-Step Fellowship meetings around the world often begin in the same way – with the assembled group reciting the Serenity Prayer together. Early on in rehab, newly-sober addicts and alcoholics are taught to recite this prayer whenever they feel overwhelmed or tempted.
But what do these words – serenity, acceptance, courage, and wisdom really MEAN?
Let’s take a closer look at each.
Serenity Refers to Inner Peace
Addiction is characterized by chaos, loss of control, and emotional turmoil.
Serenity, on the other hand, is a positive state of mind where you are untroubled by life’s ups and downs. It means remaining calm and true to yourself, regardless of what else is going on.
Some would even say that serenity is the goal of recovery.
Acceptance Refers to Taking What is Offered
Another characteristic of addiction is denial – refusing to believe what is plainly evident. Denial is an extension of our own stubborn egos – a futile attempt to reject what IS to chase after what we DESIRE.
In recovery, an example of this would be trying to control our consumption of drugs or alcohol when the very definition of addiction is that we have no such power.
Acceptance, on the other hand, means making the best of what we have. It means realizing the reality of what life has given us – genes predisposed to addiction, a difficult childhood, everyday stress, etc. – and still working with what we have been given to live the best life we possibly can.
Courage Refers to Mastering Our Fear
There is an old acronym in recovery that signifies what “fear” is – False Evidence Appearing Real, meaning that another characteristic of addiction is being controlled by distorted or untrue perceptions about ourselves, our own value as human beings, our disease of addiction, and our ability to get better.
Because of these invalid perceptions, we react in unhealthy, self-destructive ways. We drink and use to cover up our own feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, and shame.
Courage, on the other hand, means reacting and moving forward positively, even when we feel negative – doing the right thing, even when we are unsure. Courage doesn’t mean that we have NO fear, it means that we refuse to be ruled by it.
Courage during recovery can take many forms:
- Honesty – even when the truth is uncomfortable
- Fortitude – even when doing the right thing is hard
- Perseverance – even in the face of obstacles
- Faith – even when we feel giving up
- Willingness to change – even when we are unsure
Wisdom Refers to Learning from Your Mistakes
Addiction can be ned to a form of insanity. Some people define insanity as doing the same thing again and again, yet expecting different results.
For example, you may tell yourself for the umpteenth time that THIS time it’s going to be different – you’re only going to have a few beers instead of getting drunk… or you’re only going to get high on the weekends…or you REALLY mean it this time – you’re just going to muster your willpower and quit.
All the things you’ve said before.
Wisdom, on the other hand, means recognizing when something doesn’t work and being willing to try something else. It means putting our ego and stubbornness aside in order to reach our goals.
Wisdom in recovery can be as simple as understanding that our old behaviors and attitudes tend to get us in trouble, so instead of doing what WE think is right, we take the advice of our doctors, therapists, or sponsors.
What Are Some Advantages of the Serenity Prayer?
By being mindful of the meaning behind the words of the Serenity Prayer, we gain a number of benefits:
- We practice differentiating between those things we can and cannot control.
- We learn to make the best of what we have and where we are in life.
- We become empowered, because we focus our time and energy on making real, positive changes.
- We get our own way and stop sabotaging our own efforts.
- We stop repeating the same mistakes.
- We stay humble, because we realize our human limitations.
Most of all, it becomes possible for us to rediscover happiness through acceptance. We can find the good in what IS and in what we CAN do, instead of focusing on the frustration of what we CAN’T do.
Serenity Prayer – Applying 3 Truths from the Bible
One of the most popular prayers today is known as the Serenity Prayer. Written by Reinhold Neibuhr (1892-1971), the prayer was widely used in sermons and Sunday school groups and studies. In the early 40s, the group Alcoholics Anonymous began to use a shortened version of the Serenity Prayer in their twelve step program.
Serenity Prayer – Full Version (composed in 1940s)
God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world As it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right If I surrender to His Will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life And supremely happy with Him Forever and ever in the next.
God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
3 Biblical Truths We Can Apply to the Serenity Prayer
1. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”
When life feels control, it’s easy to try to work harder at controlling everything and everyone around us! Some of us do the opposite and just throw our hands up and give up on the situation or person. Whichever extreme you go to, peace and serenity continues to move further from your life.
Accepting and submitting to God’s control and plan for your life is the only way to find peace in situations you cannot control or change. We may not always know God’s plan but we can let go of trying to orchestrate and manipulate events and people and let God work through us. God promises a supernatural peace when we bring our worries and concerns to Him in prayer.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:7
“Be still and know that I am God!” – Psalms 46:10
2. “the courage to change the things I can,”
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have received the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is able to supply you with the courage to follow and act upon God’s plan for your life. Instead of fearfully ignoring hard decisions or running from what seems too difficult, we can call upon the power of God for courage to move forward into the full life He has planned for us.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
3. “and, the wisdom to know the difference.”Wisdom is a gift that God promises to give to those who ask for it! You can grow in wisdom each day and make better decisions as you spend time reading the Bible and communicating with God through prayer. God will tell you, through his Word or answers in prayer, when to accept things and when to take courage to change them.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:5
“and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:15-17
Adapted from: Single Moms & the Serenity Prayer by Donna Stanger
Share how the Serenity Prayer has encouraged you and how our large community can pray for courage for you in the comments below!
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.
Prayer for Healing
Prayer for Strength
Prayer for Protection
Good Night Prayers
The Prayer of Jabez
The Lord's Prayer
The Prayer of St Francis
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Prayer for Forgiveness
Prayer for Guidance
Irish Prayers and Blessings
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The Serenity Prayer – A Prayer for Acceptance and for Guidance
I want to share a simple and beautiful prayer of acceptance called the serenity prayer. We pray this prayer and fall into a place of acceptance in our lives.
The Serenity Prayer
Dear God, Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
The original serenity prayer was by Reinhold Niebuhr, and includes further lines.
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This prayer for acceptance and guidance for change became famous when it was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other twelve-step programs.
Click to read for a spirituality article by an author who found her spirituality through AA.
An Affirmation For Acceptance and Courage
The serenity prayer can also be said as an affirmation:
The Serenity Prayer Affirmation
I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
In difficult times, living with hardship, I practised meeting the frustration and not-knowing with this prayer for guidance and acceptance.
I was willing to switch from fear and desperation to trust.
Practice and willingness are good words 🙂
It can be so hard to know the difference between those things in our life we need to make an effort to change, and those things we need to meet with acceptance.
It brings me comfort to hand over the decision and ask God to guide me.
It feels good to affirm that I have the wisdom to distinguish between the two.
There are times when it certainly doesn't feel I have the wisdom!
Acceptance Vs Resignation
When life is difficult, we can be reluctant to accept things as they are. We think if we do so, they will just stay the same. But acceptance is not the same thing as resignation.
It is a paradox, but when we truly sink into the present moment and accept things as we are, our lives can shift in quite magical ways.
By saying the serenity prayer we are choosing to have a moment in which we are willing to believe:
I can handle this. God can handle this.
There is an answer even if I don't know what it is just yet.
The Universe responds to our trust.
Living With Illness – Help, I Don't Know What To Do!
When you are living with chronic illness, particularlyan illness which requires energy management Myalgic Encephalomyelitis /CFSit can be so hard to know what you need to change and what you need to accept.
In any moment, we can ask: “Do I need to rest or to keep active?” “Do I avoid what I am allergic to or expose myself to it?”
“Is it right to try the next treatment or to rest and live the life available to me?”
When I had very severe ME, I would often find myself saying: “I don't know what to do.”
I learned to watch out for these words and replace them with the serenity prayer.
Here is another affirmation for spiritual guidance.
I know what to do and I know the order in which to do it.I said this short affirmation prayer for guidance a lot!!! each time I found myself saying: “Aaargh, what can I do?” “Everything I do seems to be the wrong thing.”
I aimed to switched my thoughts and replace them with:
I know what to do and I know the order in which to do it.
I would say the affirmation for guidance and be willing to rest in the space of trusting God for the guidance I needed.
To put it another way, I am willing to access the part of me that is always in touch with Divine guidance and always knows what to do.
I hold a place for you to touch that place of knowing right now:
You know what to do and you know the order in which to do it. God is guiding you from a place of infinite knowing.
Articles on a-spiritual-journey-of-healing relevant to The Serenity Prayer:
- There is a FREE ebook available on this spiritual website on ReleasingJudgement – Forgiveness Exercises for Self And Acceptance and Inner Peace.
The free book outlines a powerful technique I developed to help mefind peace and acceptance in difficult situations, receive guidance and forgivemy way out.
Move from the serenity prayer to the home page – PracticalSpirituality and Healing
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