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Serenity Prayer (Full Version) Meaning + Analysis

Serenity Prayer

Serenity Prayer Full Version

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

What Is The Serenity Prayer?

The Serenity Prayer is a prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr, an American Theologian based in New York City. It has been popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous, who often recite the prayer at the start of meetings. It explores how to cope with life's hardships and difficulties.

Niebuhr wrote it in the 1930s and many churches began reciting the prayer. In 1941 it was been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and it is still recited today before their 12-step group meetings.

There is a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr's wife in the Library of Congress saying:

"My husband wrote that prayer in the early 1940s during the war. He wrote it and used it for service when he was preaching in the Congregational Church of Heath."

She clarified that it may have been written in the 1930's but was not circulated then.

The prayer was picked up by AA after a member saw the prayer in the obituary section of the New York Herald Tribune in 1941. Alcoholics Anonymous cofounder William Wilson then had it printed and sent out with routine letters to members. It has now been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and is often recited before their 12 step programs.

The prayer was included in a booklet of prayers Armed Forces, called, A Book of Prayers and Services. It was published during the second world war in 1944. The inspiring words have become one of the most widely known prayers in the English language.

There are a few variations of the prayer, one of the most well known includes an adjusted opening.

"God give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed."

Many believe that the serenity prayer originated in the Bible as it is popular with church groups but this is not true. Despite this, the serenity prayer is incorporated into many sermons as it touches on Christian themes. Asking God for serenity is common in Christian scripture.

Serenity Prayer Meaning and Analysis

There are four key topics covered by the Serenity Prayer, acceptance, courage, wisdom and of course serenity. It shows that acceptance and courage are necessary to find inner peace.

  • Accept the things you cannot change

Life deals everybody hard blows sometimes - accepting this will make you more able to deal with life's ups and downs.

  • Courage to change the things I can

If you are unhappy about something in your life then it is up to you to do something constructive about it - take responsibility for your life.

  • And the wisdom to know the difference

Be realistic and down to earth. Don't expect miracles - they happen but not that often. Focus on the things you can change and forget about the things that you can't.

  • Living one day at a time

The past is over and done with, no matter how good or bad it was, so there is no point in dwelling on it. Have faith that things will improve tomorrow.

When you are down on your luck it is important to focus on each day as it comes and not to get too overwhelmed about the future. Don't try to live up to anybody else's expectations or standards for your life - be true to yourself and do what is right for you.

  • Enjoying one moment at a time;

When you are upset, angry or just feeling bad it is important to do something that will help you take your mind off your troubles. Go for a walk in nature or just sit down and listen to some gentle music - anything that helps you feel relaxed and peaceful.

  • Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

The world is not perfect, but it's pretty good considering what life on the planet must have been like before humans evolved. Nobody can make the world totally safe and free from problems, but by dealing with them as they occur we can feel at peace.

Sometimes things don't work out quite as we hoped they would - but that's not a reason to give up hope. You will always have setbacks and disappointments, but you can learn from them and move on. Isn't it wonderful that every day brings with it the promise of a new dawn?

  • Taking, as He did, this sinful world it is, not as I would have it;

There are two ways of looking at the world - accepting it for its imperfections and looking for areas of beauty to enjoy or rejecting the world and wanting to turn your back on it. The latter rarely leads to happiness. The former attitude will enable you to appreciate that there are so many little things to enjoy in life if you look in the right places.

  • Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

It's not up to us how the world works - we just have to accept that there are forces at work of which we know nothing and trust that if our heart is in the right place that he will lead us along the right path.

What is Serenity?

Serenity is also the ability to accept things as they are and not wish for them to be any different. It is a state of peace and serenity in your mind and heart. Our minds are freed when we stop trying to change the unchangeable.

It is not merely the absence of negative feelings such as anger or hatred; it is a state where we focus on positive emotions such as happiness and love for others.



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