Prayer For an Inner Serenity of Heart and Mind
The Serenity Prayer Explained
Posted at 00:01hin Health and Wellness by Jeff1 Comment
The Serenity Prayer is used in recovery worldwide. In 12 Step recovery, we close out our meetings with it, and in times of strife and struggle often refer back to it’s comforting words. Let’s break down the serenity prayer today and discuss what it really means, for the more that we understand, the better we can put it to use.
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.
We ask our higher power for serenity
In sobriety, we are constantly reminded to stop trying to control things and to simply live life on life’s terms. To take things as they come without being the grand orchestrator. This was part of our problem all along, wasn’t it? Our attempts to control and dictate our lives regardless of what our Higher Power had planned for us always failed.
Under our own control, our lives crashed and burned. We made mistakes and wrong turns and found ourselves in darkened alleys with no idea how we ended up there. So we must continuously be reminded to relinquish our control to our higher power and to let go.
We ask our Higher Power to give us serenity, to imbue within us a sense of calm and happy resignation so that we stop trying to fight for control.
We accept what we can not change
This concept is in the same vein as the first line of the prayer – we must accept life as it is. We must accept things as they are and not how we want them to be. When we have defined expectations of ourselves and others, the outcome will never be what we plan.
We have to stop trying to change the things that are not within our power and accept the fact that our higher power is in charge. Life is in session and there is no remote to pause or rewind. We have to go with the flow.It is much harder to fight to swim your way upstream than it is to allow the current to carry you gently in it’s wake. We acknowledge those things which are not within our control and then we give it all up to our higher power.
In times when I find myself trying to run the show so to speak, I say the serenity prayer to remind myself that I must live my life in acceptance and willingness.
We have courage to change what we can
While much of life is not within our control there ARE things that we can choose to change. Our attitudes, our outlooks on life, these are the things that we can control. We can look at life as a battle to be won or a journey to be experienced. We can see events as blessings or curses. Only we have the power as individuals to change our viewpoints and adapt our outlooks.
Life can be beautiful or tragic and it is our choice which will win out. Much of the time changing our mindset takes courage. Walking through things that are uncomfortable or scary takes courage.
The instances that are the scariest and most difficult to walk through are often the ones that are also the most important, and so we look to our higher power to give us the courage to do what we know is right.
We ask for wisdom to know the difference
It can be a struggle to recognize those things which are in our control and the ones that aren’t, especially when our will is strong. If we want something badly, even if deep down we KNOW it is against what our higher power has in store for us, we can easily convince ourselves that it is still one of those things we can control or change.
We have to take time to be quiet and listen and ask our higher power to help us know which things are about our will and which are about our higher power working in our life. Meditation is often a good time to reflect on our choices and to ask for guidance delineating between the two.
When we do not listen to our inner voice and higher power, we often walk down paths not meant for us and find ourselves lost. If you are trying to recognize the difference between the things which you can and can not change, simply take a deep breath, quiet yourself, and then ask if this is God’s will or your own. Listen.
Your gut will tell you the truth, and then it is on you to choose whether or not to follow suit.
The serenity prayer comes down to how we exercise our free will and in what ways we allow our higher power to work in our lives.
When we can find a balance we will be amazed at how much easier our lives become, but at the times when we are feeling unsure we repeat the serenity prayer to remind us that we are not alone and that all we need to do is look to our higher power, be honest with ourselves, and act accordingly.
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.
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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.
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.
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