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The Twelve Steps and the Serenity Prayer...

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, a movement in the early 20th century founded by Dr. Frank Buchman. Interestingly, because the first AA meetings were actually Oxford Group meetings, those attending to recover from alcoholism studi 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 some local 12 step meetings today. 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.

Santa Monica

The 12 steps have been used by a Power Greater than ourselves to lead a multitude of people who have walked away from Spiritual Living... to working the steps. It has also helped atheists and agnostics find a Higher Power through the many references peppered throughout AA literature, such as Today as back then, addicts who study the 12 Steps and the principles they embody are discovering and embracing who their Higher Power of the Universe. In the Twelve Step, 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 (Fill in the blank,dependencies?) -- that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

God As We Understood Him...

For those of us who have negative feelings about religion and God, this step is a potential stumbling block. We can accept many of the ideas of Step Two, but some of us feel this specific defintion of a Higher Power is going too far. If we are offended by, or unable to use the words "God" or "Him," we can choose other words that work better for us in describing our Higher Power. We need to remember we are all free to define our Higher Power in any way we wish.

3. We made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of our Higher Power.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. We admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We were entirely ready to have our Higher Power remove all these defects of character.

7. We humbly asked our Higher Power 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 our Higher Power, praying only for knowledge of it's 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.

From the AA Big Book, Page 60, 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 our Higher Power could and would if He were sought.

The Serenity Prayer Long Form.

This prayer is said at all 12-Step meetings, usually at the beginning or the end. The first paragraph is the original 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...

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace...

Accepting, as our Higher Power does, this world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that our Higher Power will make all things right if I surrender to His will...

That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with my Higher Power forever in the next. Amen.

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