Christian Anonymous 12 Steps & The Serenity Prayer
Christian 12 Steps as used in Christian Rehab Centers
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have, with God's help, led millions of alcoholics, addicts and codependents to recovery for over 70 years. Written by AA co-founder Bill W., the Twelve Steps are based on the principles of The Oxford Group, an evangelical Christian movement in the early 20th century founded by Lutheran minster Dr. Frank Buchman.
Interestingly, because the first AA meetings were actually Oxford Group meetings, those attending to recover from alcoholism brought their bibles for studying Oxford Group principles. Among the readings studied and recommended by AA co-sponsor Dr. Bob were the Sermon on the Mount, and the "love chapter" from 1 Corinthians 13, and the Book of James.
Those early AA meetings almost became known as "James meetings" in reference to the book of the same name. With this early background, naturally a lot less cussing went on than is heard (unfortunately) in local AA meetings today... which is precisely why many in the church recovering from alcoholism prefer to attend Christ-centered groups like our Christian 12-Step meetings. Sadly, Bill W. and Dr. Bob broke off from the Oxford Group because of its heavy evangelistic emphasis. They and other alcoholics were turned off by hypocrisy and legalism from church leaders who didn’t practice what they preached and were no better than those they were trying to convert.
The breakaway meetings Bill and Bob held for alcoholics who wanted to get sober but felt similarly burned by the church became known as Alcoholics Anonymous after the book of the same name was first published in 1939. As Christians, we know Jesus told His disciples to “follow Me” and not “follow My people,” and He saved his strongest condemnations for the hypocritical religious leaders of His day (Matthew 23:13-27). But the shortcomings of the church in Bill and Bob's day left them bitter and cynical, and serve as an example to us of how it hinders and shoots down the witness of Christianity to the unbelieving world.
And yet in spite of all that, the 12 Steps have been used by God to lead alcoholics who walked away from the church back to Christ as they worked the steps. It has also helped atheists and agnostics find Him through the many biblical references peppered throughout AA literature, such as the books of the bible used by Dr. Bob in those early meetings.
Today as back then, addicts who study the 12 Steps and the principles they embody are discovering and embracing who their Higher Power really is -- Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Lord of the Universe!
These are the Twelve Steps as they are printed in The Life Recovery Bible. The words "alcohol" and "alcoholics" have been replaced respectively with "dependencies" and "others", and "God as we understood Him" is shortened simply to "God".
1. We admitted we were powerless over our dependencies -- that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves (Jesus) could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. We continued through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and practiced these principles in all our affairs.
Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual principles. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. Our description of the alcoholic, our chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
This prayer is said at all 12-Step meetings, usually at the beginning or the end. The first paragraph is the original Serenity Prayer and is of unknown origin, but is said to go back to ancient times.
Reinhold Neibuhr, a 20th century Christian theologian, wrote the additional lines that identify Jesus Christ as our Higher Power.
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...
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace...
Accepting, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will...
That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.