Thoughts for Growing through Prayer Steps to Serenity

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. — The Second Step

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds.” declares the LORD, “because you are called an outcast.” — Jeremiah 30:17

In the Second Step to Serenity, Day 8, in my book "Prayer Steps to Serenity," I wrote, “I joyfully believed and affirmed that a Power greater than myself could substantially heal my body, mind and spirit” ("Prayer Steps to Serenity," page 16). Certainly, we know what it feels like to be labeled an outcast or think of ourselves as outcasts. But I also need to believe the promise of God when God says, “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds.” God’s promise is not only for the people of the Old Testament, but to all who will come to believe in God, the Power greater than ourselves.

Yet, if I misunderstand God, I may not believe that God is able or willing to restore me to sanity. If I do not understand that God is all powerful and everywhere present, I may not have the confidence I need to believe God can help me. For example, I might fret about finding myself in a situation where God cannot be present or does not have the power I need.

The Scriptures give me a true understanding about God as God truly exists. The Spirit inspired Psalmist wrote: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Ps 139:8). Some understand “the depths” or “Sheol” to mean “the abode of the dead.” Before we prayed and walked into Step Two of the 12 Steps, many of us knew what it felt like to be dying, to be living an earthly death or hell. Life had ceased to be worthwhile, and sometimes we hoped to die. Still, God was there! God reached down and lifted us out of our darkness, depression, and despair. God’s power restored us to a measure of sanity, and He began to heal our wounds and restore our health. We began to live in the presence of God’s power within us and around us. We came to believe that we could walk through all the 12 Steps in the Power greater than ourselves—one day at a time—if God would only go with us.

As we pray through the Twelve Step Journey in Prayer Steps to Serenity, our knowledge of our awesome God will improve and our faith will be increased. We will begin to pray for God to give us a greater knowledge of himself and strengthen our trust in His grace and power. In addition, as we practice the Prayer Steps to Serenity, God will help us to have a heart understanding of the truth about the depths of His infinite love for us. When we begin walking through the 12 Steps and honestly praying the Serenity Prayer, God commits himself to saving us from our addictions, compulsions, dependencies, codependencies, and weaknesses. He will also lead us on the path to His eternal presence.

At one time or other, most of us were angry at God as we first understood Him. We had come to believe that God had either allowed or caused us to have our addictions, afflictions, codependencies, or other personal losses. We wondered why God had failed us and brought abusive people into our lives. Why had God allowed us to suffer day by day instead of answering our prayers? Why did we have to feel the pain of unhealthy relationships when God could have solved our problems so easily? Only as we began to understand God as God has truly revealed himself in the Bible did we receive some of the answers to our questions. The Bible revealed the true causes of our problems. Not all of our questions were answered, but God answered enough of them in the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit interpreted them for us, that we could begin to place our confidence in God once again. We began to see light shining in the darkness of our minds. We began to experience the love and presence of God in our hearts. We began to believe that God had not been our problem, but others with similar problems and illnesses to ours had caused our suffering or influenced us to make harmful choices. As we began to trust in God’s unfailing love, presence and power, we started correcting some of our false notions about God and the nature of our problems. We began to see that God had never failed us, but our false beliefs had let us down. We began to correct false ideas and teachings that we had clung to in our misery. As we got our thoughts back on course, God restored our minds to sanity. The more our thoughts began to line up with God’s thoughts as expressed in the Bible, the healthier we became. We discovered that our addictions, dependencies, and codependencies had less power over us.

Yes, we have been wounded by others. Perhaps we have wounded ourselves even more. Maybe we have wounded ourselves as a direct result of what we have suffered from others. Blaming God has never helped us. Denying God’s presence, power, and loving desire to care for us has never relieved our pain. But as we began walking the Second Step, we experienced God binding up our wounds. We truly came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves would meet all of our needs. And we know today that God is restoring our sanity and health.

Prayer for Today

Dear God, I confess that I have blamed You and others for many things. Some of my problems are the result of the decisions and actions of others, but my real problems right now are within myself. As I have come to know You better, I know that You love me and that You are not the cause of my sufferings. Indeed, I know that You only desire what is best for me, and I need to be willing to believe that You will do what is best for me when I let You take over. Father, there are some questions I have today about why certain things have happened to me, and I trust that over time (or in eternity) You will answer all of my questions, but today, I do want to ask You this one question, and I pray that in the days ahead You will give me the answer to . . .

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Author's Bio: 

L. G. Parkhurst, Jr., has helped those in AA and Al-Anon take their Fifth Step since 1975. He is the founder of “Serenity Groups” at in Oklahoma, an inclusive 12 Steps Prayer Support Group that uses the Journey Guides and readings in "Prayer Steps to Serenity," visit, to walk The Twelve Step Journey. Since 1989, he has written the weekly Bible Lesson for "The Oklahoman," Oklahoma's largest newspaper. He offers two of his books free online at "How God Teaches Us To Prayer: Lessons from the Lives of Francis and Edith Schaeffer" and "Francis and Edith Schaeffer" (a biography of the founders of L'Abri Fellowship). He serves as the pastor of Stonegate Church in Edmond, Oklahoma where he also conducts Serenity Groups. He received his M.A. Degree in Philosophy from The University of Oklahoma and his Master of Divinity Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.