What’s the Difference Between a Higher Power and God?

Let’s Explore the Answer

The 12-step process commonly used by Alcoholics Anonymous refers to the need for a “power greater than ourselves”, or “higher power”. Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs are often built around spiritual values though they don’t specify any particular religious affiliation. Therefore, individuals are welcome to interpret higher power however they see fit. Some may use the term more broadly while others refer to God.

But this begs the question, what’s the difference between God and a higher power? Skeptics, atheists, and the Bible will all have different answers.

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What Skeptics & Atheists Say

The term higher power does not necessarily refer to God. Those who do not believe in God may initially struggle with the term. However, atheists and skeptics can easily find ways to identify with a higher power. Some skeptics may use the phrase to describe an energy or force moving through the world. Atheists might consider their higher power other natural forces influencing life like the laws of nature and science, love, music and the arts, the mysterious flow of the universe, or the magic of community.

Although realizing one’s need for a higher power is central to the 12-step recovery process, it is not essential to believe in God. The process makes room for each person to interpret and describe a higher power that will be most helpful in their search for sobriety.

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What The Bible Says

Many will refer to the God of the Bible as their higher power. Many will lean on and seek God’s help to maintain sobriety, realizing they are unable to overcome alcohol and other addictions alone. The God of the Bible is not a general force or impersonal energy influencing the world. Rather, God created and cares about the world. The Bible describes how God is personally involved in the moves of mankind and genuinely loves people. Yet, He is completely powerful and in Him all things in the world are held together.

Whatever you may be going through or struggling with today, the Bible explains how you should hand over every concern and worry to God because He cares about you and is supremely able and willing to help you through your troubles. The God of the Bible is caring, personal, powerful and willing to help you. As you consider a higher power would you consider leaning on the God of the Bible today?

What would happen if you embraced the possibility that the God of the Bible really did create the world and really does care for you?

Pascal's Wager

In the seventeenth century, a famous philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, encouraged people to make a wager when it came to belief in God. If a person chose to believe in God and God did exist, that person would gain everything (eternal life). If a person chose to believe in God and God did not exist, that person would lose nothing. On the other hand, if a person chose not to believe in God and he was right, he would lose nothing. But if that person did not believe in God and he was wrong- he would lose everything (lose eternal life).

This wager can be said another way:

Based on this logic, Pascal suggested the rational person would choose to believe in God as believing offers a person everything (eternal life) while losing nothing. Wherever you are in your faith journey, would you consider taking Pascal’s wager? If the good God of the Bible exists, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by believing in Him today.

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Life can feel truly overwhelming for everyone at times, which is why people so often use prayer - or simply put, a conversation with God - to ask for hope, strength, guidance, or circumstantial change in difficult times. "Putting it in God’s hands" when we’re facing any number of obstacles can provide great comfort and peace in a world that we know is out of our own control.

The Bible teaches us that prayer is powerful and effective, both in communicating with God and in bringing peace to those who pray. We consider it an honor to be able to talk personally with the God who created us, with confidence that He listens and cares. No matter your faith background, and whatever the challenges you’re facing, we’re eager to pray for you, your family members, or any of your loved ones. There’s nothing we’d love more than to present your requests to God and pray with you.