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The serenity prayer has gained a lot of popularity due to its association with addiction recovery. The prayer is short, powerful and often echoes everything most addicts feel about their life. The prayer was first used by the recovery group for alcoholics in the early 1940s.

Mathew 11:28 states, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle and you will find rest for your souls.”

Like this verse, the serenity prayer is used as a recovery prayer because it offers hope. Many addicts often go through various emotional and mental challenges that make it seem that their life is not in their control.

However, the serenity prayer helps them know what they can do, and what they can change. The wisdom to know how to differentiate between what they can accept and what they can change.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction, you can use the serenity prayer. It is by far the best addiction recovery prayer. Here’s how you can use the four principles of the serenity prayer in addiction recovery.

The Four Principles for Addiction Recovery

The serenity prayer is very simple and quite easy to remember. The main goal of the serenity prayer as in addiction recovery is to give victims of addiction peace and freedom. The prayer can be broken down into four principles, which are:

1.- God, grant me the serenity;  2.- To accept the things I cannot change; 3.- Courage to change the things I can; 4.- And Wisdom to know the difference.

These four principles are what made Alcoholic Anonymous adopt the serenity prayer as their go-to prayer for recovering alcoholics. Since then, the prayer has been adopted by addicts from all spheres of life.

Let’s dive deeper into what the four principles entail and how they relate to the 12 steps of recovery.

1.- God, Grant Me The Serenity

This is the first principle of the serenity prayer. But what is serenity? It is a state of peace with oneself or a state of calmness, free from anxiety. Many addicts struggle with peace and often have underlying mental health conditions that predispose them to drug addiction.

Praying for serenity is the first thing that all recovering addicts should do. This is a great prayer, and although it is simple, it contains everything that could help you break free from the bonds of addiction.

When praying the serenity prayer, it is purposeful because it directly asks God for something. That is, “God grant me the serenity”, saying this is admitting that one does not have peace and that they believe that God is the only one who can give them peace.

This first principle helps you pray and understand the meaning of the following steps in the 12 Steps Recovery:

Step 1: “Admitting that you’ve no power”, over your own life; only God has it.

Step 2: “Finding hope”, by accepting that God is the only one who can provide it;

Step 3: “Surrendering oneself to God” Just like Mathew Chapter 11, states, you need to cast your burden onto Jesus and He will give you rest.

Admitting that one has no power over his or her life with regards to addiction is okay. Romans 7:18 states that “I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t.”

This shows that one cannot truly recover without first accepting that they need help, that help can only come from God, and that they have to surrender to God.

The first principle of the serenity prayer informs the most important steps in recovery. Hence, this should be the first part of the recovery prayer you focus on.

2.- To accept the things I cannot change

People don’t let things go, especially those with addictions who may be feeling guilty due to some of the choices they have made in life. However, without accepting that what is done is done, one cannot fully recover.

This is because the guilt may cause one to relapse into addiction. Thus, every time you want to recover without acceptance, the guilt will lead you back into addiction. This creates a cycle of addiction, which makes it hard for the victim to get help.

The serenity prayer’s second principle is thus accepting that you cannot change what has happened. This is because it is in the past and unless you can control time, you should let it go and try to forgive yourself for everything you did in the past.

The second principle is fundamental for some of the 12 steps in recovery. These include:

Step 4: “Make an Inventory”, by deeply examining your character. This means that you reflect on the moral choices you’ve made, don’t try to change them, but ask yourself why you made such choices.

Step 5: “Admit your shortcomings to God and to another person”, pray to God and admit to another person. Make sure it’s someone you can trust, like a sponsor, or someone who’s successfully gone through a similar process.

Step 6: “Become ready to have God fix our natural defects” is allowing God to work on your character. This involves, being humble and accepting that you don’t have the power to change yourself, only God can change you.

Step 7: “Ask God to remove your shortcomings”, after accepting what you can’t change by yourself, it is crucial to pray and ask God to remove the flaws that you have noted.

3.- Courage to change the things I can;

Although there are some things, you can’t change, there are some that you can. That’s where courage comes in handy, pray that God grants you the courage to make amends, admit your poor choices and make positive changes to your life.

This phase of the process is the hardest because will involve hard work on your end. It is not easy, admitting that you’re wrong and making amends is particularly hard when the people you have wronged are the ones you care about.

However, by praying for courage, you prepare yourself to take action to correct the mistakes you’ve made

This principle helps you to go thru the following steps in addiction recovery:

Step 8: “Make a list of amends”, in other words, make a list of people you’ve wronged. This list should be comprehensive, don’t leave anyone out and include how you wronged them.

Step 9: “Make amends”, or execute your list, this step is very important because it helps you rebuild the relationships you had with other people.

Mathew 5:23-24 “So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go, and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

This passage shows that making amends also helps bring you closer to God, which makes your recovery prayer more effective.

Step 10: “Keep taking stock of moral choices, and admit when wrong”,  Recovery is a lifelong process and thus you must monitor your progress closely. Admit when you are wrong and don’t be afraid to seek help. Always look for God’s guidance.

Step 11: “Pray and meditate”: in God’s word, thru praise and prayers this step will help you build your relationship with God.

Step 12: “Help others”, after completing your steps, you must help other people suffering from addiction. This helps you continue with your journey of recovery.

4.- And Wisdom to know the difference.

Although this is the last line of the serenity prayer, it is one of the most important principles in the recovery process. Knowing and understanding the things you can change and the ones you can not is the foundation to make positive changes to your life.

The principle of wisdom is useful in praying for all of the 12 steps; it involves taking proactive action to make a difference in your life. Hence, it is important to pray for wisdom so that you can know what you can do to make suitable changes.

Begin your recovery process by reciting the serenity prayer. This prayer has become the primary tool in helping addicts recover around the world,  it’s somewhat considered a manual rather than a prayer, very easy to remember and deep in its powerful meaning. 

Thus, keep it close to your mind, and whenever you encounter any temptation, just recite the prayer and let it guide your moral choices.