Finding Spiritual Renewal in the 12 Steps

Spiritual freedom and renewal can be pursued in many forms, from simple devotions and worship, to formal spiritual disciplines like journaling and fasting, to spiritual week-long retreats and working with a Spiritual Director. The classic 12-Step program, which has existed for decades and has helped millions of people find freedom from addictions, can also be a tool for spiritual renewal and freedom. These steps, which began with Alcoholics Anonymous, have been adapted to address various other struggles, and they can likewise be a guide for spiritual renewal in your life.

Consider prayerfully how God can use these steps to bring healing to your relationships give you greater freedom in Jesus:

Step 1: We admit that we are powerless over (_fill in the blank_) and that our lives have become unmanageable.

Step 2: We come to believe that only a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: We make a decision to turn our will and lives over to God’s care.

These first steps remind us we are powerless over sin and there is nothing we ourselves can do to save ourselves. The effects of sin destroy our lives and will ultimately destroy all life if left untreated. We give up trying to do things on our own and we admit defeat. Because of Jesus, we are not left alone in our sin! We come to believe that God exists, and he can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is here that we are faced with a decision to put our hope, trust, and life into God’s care. We say to ourselves “I can’t. God can. I think I will let him.” We make this decision on a daily basis. This decision brings our lives before God in an attitude of surrender.

Step 4: We make a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: We admit to God, to our selves, and another person the exact nature of our wrongs.

These steps ask us to take an honest look at our lives. We unpack the pain in our lives. We list our resentments and wrongs done to us and how our life has been impacted as a result. We also consider the part we played in our pain. We consider the ways in which we have hurt others and the way our choices have contributed to our own suffering. As we do this, we enlist the help of another person to help us gain perspective. We get honest with God, ourselves and another person we trust in order to step out of denial and to prepare ourselves to move on.

Step 6: We are entirely ready to have God handle all these defects of character.

Step 7: We humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.

These steps bring us to a place of willingness to let God take our pain. We ask God to remove those things from our lives that do not serve his kingdom, others, or us.

Step 8: We make a list of all persons we had harmed and become willing to make amends to them.

Step 9: We make direct amends to such people except when to do so would injure them or others.

These steps give us the opportunity to make right the wrongs we have made. We list the names of people we have harmed and we ask God to give us the opportunity to make amends. We are careful not to cause greater harm to another person with our amends. We also do more than simply say “I’m sorry”. We acknowledge our wrongful behavior and make a pledge, with God’s help, to not do it again. We strive to live a different way.

Step 10: We continued to take personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admit it.

Step 11: We seek 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 that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

These last three steps help us maintain the good work the Lord has done for us and is doing in our lives. We daily examine how we live our lives and when we were wrong, we immediately admit it. We spend time daily with God. We ask God to reveal his will for us and we ask for the power to walk it out, whatever it may be. We also ask how we can be of service to others so that we can share the gifts the Lord has given us. We do this in order to carry the gospel and share the healing we have experienced.

May you find these twelve steps to be a source of renewal in your life and relationships as well as a guide to help you experience the freedom of life in Christ.

About the author — Kathy Konrath, LCPC, LMHC

Kathy Konrath is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of Indiana and works at Chicago Christian Counseling Center. She has a rich clinical background in residential, church, and outpatient settings, working with adolescents and adults. She is experienced in working with various issues including abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, relationships, and self esteem.

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