The Serenity Prayer
“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.”
The Serenity Prayer is perhaps the best-known recovery prayer and the one most closely linked to AA and other 12 Step groups. In fact, the Serenity Prayer was the first prayer to be adopted and published by AA. Reinhold Niebuhr, a theologian, wrote the prayer and used it in several sermons throughout the 1930s and 40s. The prayer gained popularity among religious groups, and one of the early members of AA liked it enough to bring it to the founders’ attention. Shortly afterward, the Serenity Prayer became part of the fabric of AA. Today, AA prints the Serenity Prayer on the backs of their recovery chips.
The prayer reflects two core values of AA and other 12 Step programs: spiritual help and personal responsibility.
AA maintains that recovery from alcoholism requires spiritual help and that alcoholism is not something that one can overcome on one’s own. Many people disagree, believing that this stance removes autonomy from alcoholic individuals. Nevertheless, by acknowledging that there are “things [they] cannot change,” those who say the Serenity Prayer can find the sense of peace they may need to let go of grudges or self-judgements.
In contrast, the “courage to change the things I can” line points back to personal responsibility. Some of the 12 Steps require acknowledging and making amends for the pain that one’s alcoholism has caused others. These steps certainly require courage, as the Serenity Prayer states, and those who say the prayer earnestly prepare themselves to use this courage.
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The Surrender Prayer
“Dear God, I am powerless and my life is unmanageable without Your help…
Help me to see how I have harmed others, and make me willing to make amends…
Keep me ever mindful of thoughts and actions that harm myself and others…”
The Surrender Prayer, written anonymously, carries similar themes to those of the Serenity Prayer. The praying individual asks God to grant the ability to make amends and abstain from further harm. The most important part of the Surrender Prayer is, of course, the focus on surrender. The supplicant commits him-or-herself fully to God and God’s mercy.
Prayers for Certain Steps
“God, I offer myself to thee…”
“I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character…”
“Where there is hatred, let me sow love…”
Certain steps in the 12 Step program come with their own prayers. The third, seventh, and eleventh steps in particular have specific prayers. These steps ask participants to:
- Commit themselves to God’s care (step 3)
- Ask God to remove shortcomings (step 7)
- Seek to improve their relationships with God (step 11)
Each of these prayers reflects the intentions in these steps, thus helping the addicted person work toward their goals.
83% of Americans are at least somewhat certain that they believe in God.
People in recovery may also choose to pray on their own, using whatever words come to their minds as they ask God for help, pray for loved ones, or express gratitude. This type of prayer can become an essential part of a thriving spiritual life. It becomes especially helpful in the day-to-day moments when an addicted person may face temptations and triggers. Because this form of prayer requires no reading or memorization, it’s available whenever an individual may need them.
Are You Ready for Recovery?
If you’ve been praying for your own recovery recently, or if you’ve been praying for somebody you love, we’re here to help you get started on the right path. You don’t have to deal with your addiction alone.