Serenity Prayer for Family Members of Substance Abuse
Do you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol?
Here is a prayer to help you when facing such difficult circumstances.
Article written by Kelly Flaherty
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Prayer is a Christian’s direct line to God. By focusing and calling upon God in a time of need, a Christian develops a growing relationship with the Creator of the Universe. A common prayer in recovery for family members of those with chemical dependency is the Serenity Prayer. To breathe life into this common prayer, let’s examine it piece by piece:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”
When a family member sees a loved one changing due to a chemical addiction, one must rely upon their relationship with God to be grounded. Asking for serenity means asking for peace of God that transcends all understanding to come into our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:7). The things the family member are doing may be beyond human control, but they are never beyond God’s (Luke 1:37). Full reliance on God is essential in recovery for family members. For more scripture, see Proverbs 16:7, John 14:27, John 16:33, and Jeremiah 29:11.
“The courage to change the things I can”
In a home effected by chemical addiction, there is the temptation to change everything all at once, leading to burn out, stress, anxiety, and even depression. This section of the Serenity Prayer allows us to focus on what we are actually responsible for and change these things with God’s help. Changing certain attitudes, such a co-dependency and enabling, can be scary even if we know they are detrimental.
However, with God there is no fear (Psalm 27:1). When we seek God, He reveals changes we need to make in ourselves in attitudes, motives, and actions that will bring about a healthier and more positive life, marked by freedom and security in Christ. As we begin to work with God to make changes, we must ask for courage to step out in faith, all the while trusting God with our lives and those of our families. We slowly begin to realize that God is faithful to do these things in us and He will be there to help. For more scripture, see Deuteronomy 31: 6 and 2 Timothy 1:7.
“And the wisdom to know the difference.”
God’s word in James 1:15 says “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” A constant need for family members is to ask for discernment from God. He needs to make clear what it is our job to change and what is His. In a family with chemical dependency, there are blurred lines in helping the person with an addiction and enabling their addiction. Through the wisdom of God, we see what our responses should be. Understanding and discerning things that can be changed by us and things that can only be changed by God can be the difference between life and death for the person with an addiction and his/her family. Psalm 119:66 shows us how. “Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.”
In close, we need to remember to pray for the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, for joy and rest. We must also pray for the wisdom of God in order to change the things we can and let God handle the rest. Boldly and honestly approaching God for wisdom and peace is available to us through Christ. Nothing is outside of God’s control or too big for Him!