The Serenity Prayer
1892 - 1971
Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr was an American theologian, ethicist, commentator on politics and public affairs, and professor at Union Theological Seminary for more than 30 years.
"Trusting that You will
make all things right
if I surrender to Your will."
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
What is known as “The Serenity Prayer” was written by Reinhold Niebuhr around 1943. The first few lines are commonly used as an opening prayer at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. In AA, the prayer becomes,
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.
For the alcoholic/addict, “The Serenity Prayer” is a practical tool that helps organize every day. Each morning begins with a list of items, issues, and situations on our plate that require our attention. The list is always too long, too difficult, and too unpleasant for us to tackle by ourselves.
The prayer tells us to separate those items that are our work from those that we must leave to God. We must have the courage to tackle those tasks that are ours; we must do my own footwork. We must accept those problems in life which we cannot change and leave them to God. To tell one from the other requires wisdom, a gift from our Higher Power.
Thus the prayer is not only a spiritual ideal but also a pragmatic tool to be used in everyday life.