Boundaries: Pray for Wisdom – FaithGateway

The Serenity Prayer

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.

As the Twelve Step movement grows within the church, Christians in therapy and recovery voice a common confusion. Am I powerless over my behavior? If I am, how can I become responsible? What do I have the power to do?

The Twelve Steps and the Bible teach that people must admit that they are moral failures. Alcoholics admit that they are powerless over alcohol; they don’t have the fruit of self-control. They are powerless over their addiction, much like Paul was:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing… waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. — Romans 7:15Romans 7:19Romans 7:23

This is powerlessness. John says that we are all in that state, and that anyone that denies it is lying (1 John 1:8).

Though you do not have the power in and of yourself to overcome these patterns, you do have the power to do some things that will bring fruits of victory later:

  1. You have the power to agree with the truth about your problems. In the Bible this is called “confession.” To confess means to “agree with.” You have the ability to at least say “that is me.” You may not be able to change it yet, but you can confess.
  2. You have the power to submit your inability to God. You always have the power to ask for help and yield. You have the power to humble yourself and turn your life over to him. You may not be able to make yourself well, but you can call the Doctor! The humbling of yourself commanded in the Bible is always coupled with great promises. If you do what you are able — confess, believe, and ask for help — God will do what you are unable to do — bring about change (1 John 1:9James 4:7-10Matthew 5:3Matthew 5:6).
  3. You have the power to search and ask God and others to reveal more and more about what is within your boundaries.
  4. You have the power to turn from the evil that you find within you. This is called repentance. This does not mean that you’ll be perfect; it means that you can see your sinful parts as aspects that you want to change.
  5. You have the power to humble yourself and ask God and others to help you with your developmental injuries and leftover childhood needs. Many of your problematic parts come from being empty inside, and you need to seek God and others to have those needs met.
  6. You have the power to seek out those that you have injured and make amends. You need to do this in order to be responsible for yourself and your sin, and be responsible to those you have injured. Matthew 5:23–24 says,

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

On the other side of the coin, your boundaries help define what you do not have power over: everything outside of them! Listen to the way the serenity prayer (probably the best boundary prayer ever written) says it:

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.

In other words, God, clarify my boundaries! You can work on submitting yourself to the process and working with God to change you. You cannot change anything else: not the weather, the past, the economy — and especially not other people. You cannot change others. More people suffer from trying to change others than from any other sickness.

And it is impossible.

What you can do is influence others. But there is a trick. Since you cannot get them to change, you must change yourself so that their destructive patterns no longer work on you. Change your way of dealing with them; they may be motivated to change if their old ways no longer work.

Another dynamic that happens when you let go of others is that you begin to get healthy, and they may notice and envy your health. They may want some of what you have.

One more thing. You need the wisdom to know what is you and what is not you. Pray for the wisdom to know the difference between what you have the power to change and what you do not.

Excerpted with permission from Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, copyright Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

* * *

Your Turn

“God, clarify my boundaries!” What a poignant prayer for those of us who blur the lines in relationships! Today, let’s get in alignment with God in prayer submitting to Him and working with Him to change ourselves and not anyone else.

 

Source: Boundaries: Pray for Wisdom – FaithGateway

Advertisements

About One Man's Journey

I've experienced a lot of pain and inflicted my share through a lifetime of selfishly pursuing all that this world has to offer for my pleasure and well-being. Why God in His infinite mercy chose to raise me up out of the pit of despair, depression, addictions and emptiness I may never know, but I'm now all in and passionately in love with a Passionate Savior. If you are struggling with addictions, resentments, depression or any of life's struggles, know there is a Healer, and His name is Jesus. God Bless.
This entry was posted in Recovery and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s