Reflections on the Serenity Prayer - Part 1
Words are powerful! Prayers are powerful. I want to dedicate a few posts to analyzing and considering deeply the words of the Serenity Prayer. That being said, the most powerful approach to a prayer is not analysis, but repetition. Nothing will change our soul like putting ourselves into the hands of God through prayer. If you want to consider a few thoughts about this prayer then read on. If you are ready to start praying then follow this link Prayers and scroll to the bottom of the page to download a pdf of the full version of the Serenity Prayer.
The Serenity Prayer is often connected with recovery groups like AA and Celebrate Recovery. Yet, the scope and power of this prayer is clearly suited for all of us. This makes sense to many in our local fellowship since we have learned that we are all in need of recovery from our own hurts, habits and hangups.
Today let’s focus on the popular opening lines of this prayer. First, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” If our hearts could master these words many struggles would vanish from within. If you like to be in control, to take charge, these words may be very difficult. In a very real sense, these words are a confession of our own finite capabilities. There are things I cannot change. I can’t will myself to live longer or grow taller. I can’t wish myself smarter or better looking. I can’t undo the past. What’s done is done. I don’t have a functioning magic wand, as bad as I want one, and I am coming to grips with the truth that my prayers don’t always convince God to use His to suit my wishes.
The first instruction of this prayer is to let go of the thoughts that you need to let go. If you can’t change it, don’t fret about it. Humph, that sounds simple, but of course it is not. We all have recurring regrets and fears that impact our daily life. Maybe the first thing we should do when we feel anxiety is write a list of the struggles that are infringing upon our peace. If we can’t do anything about a situation, we must learn how to move forward in that brokenness. We will surely come back to that thought.
When we make that list of concerns, there are likely some things that we can change. For that we pray, “Courage to change the things I can.” Some fixes are easy, so we make them. Other issues are complex or involve facing our fears. For those situations, we pray for extra courage. We talk to trusted people who can advise us as we navigate troubled waters. We remember that God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline. With God, trusted brothers and sisters, and the courage our supporters provide, we change the things we can.
“And wisdom to know the difference.” O, wisdom. Discernment. These are such valuable skills today, as always. We live in a world of over information and over stimulation. We face a countless number of decisions every day. We pray for God to help us decide when we should say “yes” and when we should say “no.” When it comes to that list we made earlier, we find several items that we aren’t sure how to categorize. “Can I change this or not?”, we ask ourselves. Ask God to give you discernment today and over time. Pray for vision to see opportunities for change as they are presented to you. Again, seek wise counsel as you seek to differentiate the concerns that you can change from those you can’t.
We circle back to the serenity in the midst of brokenness piece to close our thoughts. Of course, you and I are both thinking about the global pandemic as we consider this decades old prayer. We can’t defeat the virus from our living rooms. But there is much we can do. We pray for the medical personnel treating sick patients on the front lines. We pray for the researchers seeking cures and vaccines. We pray for leaders who provide guidance regarding our social interaction. But prayer is not the only thing we control. We have many ways to reach out and interact with our neighbors through technology, and for those of us with children we have a chance move our house in the direction of a home as we do things together.
As you move through this day may you be filled with serenity, courage and wisdom that only comes…
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