The Well

A guided time with God through prayer and reflection on Psalm 37:4...learn how to delight yourself in the LORD.

Show Notes

What holds your delight these days? Have you had any moments of delight recently? Spend some time reflecting on all the delights God places into your life, turning your delight to Him. You will learn the meaning of Psalm 37:4, reflect on what your desires are focused on now, and have some time to pray and ask for God's help to delight more and more in Him.

Written by: Brandon Bathauer
Music by: JD Gluck

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What is The Well?

The Well is a guided time with God through prayer and reflection on Scripture. Think of it as your own personal retreat. Brought to you by Saddleback

“You keep in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on you, because they trust in you..” Isaiah 26:3

Hello and welcome to “The Well” a spiritual growth experience from Saddleback Church. My name is Brandon Bathauer, and I’m excited to journey with you into a time of peace, reliance, and courage…the Serenity Prayer.

First crafted by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1930s, this simple prayer has helped many depend on God’s solace and provision in moments of helplessness, and rely on God’s power and strength in moments of courage. It is a central prayer for those of us experiencing recovery from whatever hurts, hang-ups, and habits we struggle with.

This is a reflective prayer exercise you can come back to over and over again. While the serenity prayer itself is short and memorable, use this exercise whenever you’d like to spend more time reflecting on these Biblical truths. If you would like to build this as a daily habit in your life, you can replay this exercise every day for one or two weeks, until you get the rhythm of this prayer, then simply practice on your own.

Now, let’s begin.


To start, find a quiet place, get away from the noise and busy, take a deep breath, and get settled. If you need more time at any point, feel free to hit pause along the way.


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.”


The first word of this prayer is the most important. To whom and for whom this prayer is offered is the hingepoint. Like the trajectory of a rocket launch determines its success, so this prayer and line of thinking is tied to its helpfulness. If a rocket is off its trajectory even by an inch, it will miss its target by a mile. The same is true with this prayer.

This is a prayer to God…the God who created the universe, the God who chose to connect His world-saving plans to the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who stepped into our reality in the person of Jesus. The God who has chosen to connect His eternal existence with you. This prayer roots itself not in self-help, not in pop-psychology, but in the reality of our ever-present and loving Father wanting to help us navigate this world we live in. It is in this context that we are granted the serenity and courage and wisdom we week.

So, to begin, take a moment in his presence. Maybe every interaction you’ve had with God has been filled with guilt. And maybe this causes us to be quick and filled with agenda...keeping distance. When we approach Him, we have a tendency to show up in his presence and list out requests, sing a bunch of words at him, and even read his words in his presence without acknowledging him. Sometimes, I wonder if He just wants us to sit with him for a moment. No goal of gaining the right information, no box to check, just presence. Before we ask for serenity, before we seek courage, take a moment to orient yourself towards him.

The Bible says that God “is not far from any one of us. For IN HIM, we live and move and have our being” . Take a moment to soak in this reality. Whatever we’re wrestling with, whatever challenges we are facing, our God chooses to be near to us, nearer than our very breath.



God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…

What are your hands clenching to that you can’t let go?
What needless burdens do you carry on your back with every arduous step of your journey?
What past pains or false stories do you keep going back to, dwelling on, dwelling in…that cloud your vision and skew your perspective on yourself, God, the world?

This first part of the Serenity Prayer may be the hardest for you. If you are someone who likes to get things done, likes to fix things, fix others, fix yourself, this prayer will not be easy.

A strange custom we humans carry is that we spend an unreasonable amount of time dwelling on and dwelling in realities we don’t have control over…mulling over things we cannot change.

This could be a past memory or situation where things went terribly wrong, and you play that movie over and over and over again, hoping for a different result.

Or, you spend hours of your day and years of your life living in frustration about others’ decisions, as if being frustrated enough will force a change in their mind.

Or, day after day, night after night, you beat up on yourself about something you have no power over…the shape of your face, the decisions you made long ago, that thing someone did or said to you.

There is so much we cannot control. That’s hard to hear, isn’t it?

While there’s definitely a part for us to play in our own lives, there’s so much that our effort and will cannot change. You can’t eliminate that scar. You can’t force your boss or loved one to make that decision. You can’t will away your past.

Like cows, we ruminate on these things, chew on them, swallow them, spit them up, then chew on them again. It makes us sick, it saps us of strength, it wounds us, it achieves nothing. King Solomon once said “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” We know it hurts, but we keep at it.
Jesus said, “Which of you by being anxious, can add one moment to his life?”

Dwelling in and dwelling on things that we cannot change doesn’t help us, it actually robs us. So, why do we spend such time here?

Well, because there is so much we cannot control. And this is really hard to accept. Control brings comfort, and comfort is an artificial peace. When we feel in control, we feel like things are ok. And when things are out of our control, we feel uncomfortable, and so, we feel absent of peace. So, we give up any peace we have in our head and our heart to try to wrestle control back into our hands, even when we know this is pointless.

But this is the beauty of who our God is. True peace is only found in him. It isn’t hard to recognize that when you are in control, you don’t always bring about the best. In fact, much of the past wounds you may carry come from when you were trying to be in control of everything. True serenity, true peace, comes when we open our hands, when we relinquish control of those things we cannot change, accepting that there is so much we don’t have power over.

So, what are your hands grasping to that needs to be let go? What takes your mental space and definitely does not live there rent free?

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot control”

Do you need to accept that you cannot make a decision for someone else?
Open your hands, not as an act of relinquishing care for them, but instead, imagine exchanging worry for prayer. Drop the responsibility for their outcome (and the worry that comes with it), pick up the responsibility of prayer for them.

Do you need to accept certain unchangeable realities about how you were made?
The shape of your face, the color of your skin, you gender, your physical limitations?
Open your hands, not as an act of disregarding these things, but instead, accepting and embracing them as part of who God made you to be.

Do you need to accept some circumstances or part of your past?
This may be the hardest, but Open your hands, not as an act of approving or condoning that past wound, or justifying it, but instead, simply as a process of accepting that no matter the amount of time spent in it, you cannot change it.

Listen to these words from Scripture, then speak to God about what He has brought to mind:

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”



God, grant me the courage to change the things I can…

Where are you hesitant to move?
What self-imposed or re-occurring obstacles continue to show up in your journey?
What fears, inaction, worry, or stories, keep you from growing into who God wants you to be for the sake of the world? Keep you from seeking the change that needs to be sought?

This second part of the Serenity Prayer may be the hardest for you. If you are someone who gets paralyzed by indecision and uncertainty, daunted by big things, hesitant about trying and failing, or is averse to uncomfortable or difficult situations, this prayer will not be easy.

A strange custom we humans carry is that we overestimate the challenges before us and underestimate our ability to address them. We, as a culture, highlight the things we don’t have control over and rarely take responsibility for the things we do.

This could be an unhealthy habit that will take a sustained effort of willpower, community, accountability, healthy habits, healthy thinking, and prayer to break.

Or, this could be a set of circumstances that you’ve grown to accept or justify that is placing incredible burdens on you and your relationships, and you need to face the problem and get after solving it.

Or, you have allowed a wound or division or lie in the past continue to fester. You pretend like everything is fine, let it stay unspoken, say you are valuing peace, but things are slowing getting worse or polluting whatever ground it is buried in. You simply need to do the hard work of addressing what is unspoken and seeking reconciliation, even if it means some conflict and discomfort to get there.

There is so much we carry responsibility for. God has placed a great deal of ownership in our hands.
That’s hard to hear, isn’t it?

While there’s definitely lots our effort cannot do, there’s so much in our life that is dependent on our decisions, our actions, our willed behavior. You can change your environment. You can seek to grow. You can choose to look differently at your past and walk differently into your future.

“Be Strong and Courageous” shows up over and over again in Scripture. From Deuteronomy to Joshua to 1 Corinthians. God would not challenge his people to do this if it wasn’t in their power to do so. Whether we believe it or not, we were made with immense power to impact our world.

Genesis 1 says that we were made in God’s image, given the authority to rule and to reign for God in this world. We were made to carry the great responsibility of our lives and the world we’re a part of…of bringing order into chaos, in naming and narrating, in multiplying and filling, in creating and curating and sustaining.

But we do our best to wave these things away. Why? Because with great responsibility comes the great possibility of failure. And with the possibility of failure, comes the possibility of guilt and shame and pressure. So, we shield ourselves from this personal responsibility God has given us, deciding instead to focus on what we can’t do, complaining about what we don’t have power over (this cultural reality or that politician), finding comfort and ease in by shrugging away what God has placed before us. Fear is a real thing. But so is courage.

This is the beauty of who our God is. True change can only be found in him. It isn’t hard to recognize that when you shirk your God-given responsibility, things don’t get better. In fact, so much of what limits, burdens, and disorders your life, God has given you the power to overcome. This is not a “tie up those bootstraps and start trying”, “the power is in you”, “just believe in yourself” message. A self-manufactured improvement plan will inevitably result in success that goes to your head or failure that challenges your value at an identity level.

True courage, true peace, true breakthrough comes when we take a step in the power of God and in the purposes of God. This isn’t about the change you want, it is about the change God wants.

What is the mark of being in line with God’s work in the world and in your life?

“The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”

So, what needs to change in your life, in your world? What ground needs to be taken in the power, love, and self-discipline God’s Spirit gives us?

“God, grant me the courage to change the things I can.”

Do you need to face that broken habit or practice dead on?
Close your hands, not as an act of white-knuckling your way through, but instead, grasping hold of the life of abundance God has for you on the other side of this.

Do you need to address that hidden lie, that past wound, that unspoken obstacle within yourself or in your relationship with another?
Close your hands, not as an act of forcing your strength on it, but instead, being courageous to step into it with the power and truth of the Spirit of God to help you see it differently, respond to it truthfully, or seek the healing of God over it.

Do you need to take a single step toward the change God wants for you?
To call that friend, to reach out to that pastor or small group leader or counselor, to set that calendar block, to sign-up for that course, to show up to that Sunday morning service or midweek Celebrate Recovery meeting, to begin writing out your thoughts, to make that apology, to say that prayer.
Close your hands as an act of reliance on God and commitment to taking that step.

Listen to these words from Scripture, then speak to God about what He has brought to mind:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’”



“You keep in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on you, because they trust in you..” Isaiah 26:3

Father, I trust in you, keep my mind stayed on you that I may be kept in your perfect peace. I am a person that seeks to grab control where I have no control. I am also a person that can shirk and neglect the responsibility you’ve given me over my own life. Please LORD, open my ears to the divine wisdom that calls out in the streets for anyone that would listen. I want to listen. May I, day-by-day, situation-by-situation, and predicament-by-predicament, receive the wisdom I need. That I would understand what areas I need to serenely accept what I cannot change, and the areas I need to courageously change what I can.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

In Jesus’ Name