The Serenity Prayer Ignited His Spiritual Awakening

The Guideposts Editor-in-Chief initially struggled with parts of the well-known prayer at his Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

by - Posted on Oct 15, 2020

Illustration of the Serenity Prayer

If only Carlene Schaaf’s dad had discovered the Serenity Prayer and the organization it is most closely associated with, Alcoholics Anonymous, whose members often recite it in unison at the end of meetings. I was one of the fortunate ones, though I didn’t know it at first. I wanted to stop drinking but wanted nothing to do with a God I didn’t care to believe in. That gave me a problem with the prayer.

“Then don’t say ‘God,’” my sponsor said dismissively. “He’s not going to be offended.” I took the advice and omitted his name when I stood at the conclusion of a meeting, grasping hands with the persons on either side of me. I didn’t let myself think too hard about whom I was beseeching for serenity, just so long as I didn’t give in to the G word. I even practiced outside the meetings so I wouldn’t slip up.

So why did this prayer seem to keep me out of trouble? It centered me in situations where I’d normally reach for a mood changer. I wondered if maybe it would work even better if I added “God.” I experimented, and that was the beginning of my spiritual awakening.

AA founder Bill Wilson said about the Serenity Prayer, “Never have we seen so much AA packed into so few words.” And I might add, never has so much God been packed into so few words.

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