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The Serenity Prayer

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;

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with Him forever and ever in the next.


The Serenity Prayer was written by Reinhold Neibuhr (1871 -1971) who was a theologian, ethicist and commentator on politics and public affairs. He taught at Union Theological Seminary for 30 years and was one of America’s leading public intellectuals receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. He has been and is revered and respected by clergy persons and lay people alike. Presidents and politicians alike on both sides of the isle have been and are influenced and impacted by him. He wrote over 155 books which can be found on Amazon, in bookstores and in libraries around the globe. Many of his books are required reading in Universities and Seminaries around the world.

I must say he is one of my favorite writers and several of his books have greatly influenced my thinking and my beliefs about God, humanity, the church, politics, government, good and evil as well as the redeeming work of Christ in the world. Without a doubt, Dr. Neibuhr was one of the greatest intellectual giants in the church and in our country.

I share all of this to remind us that this great intellectual respected by so many was also one of the most articulate defenders of the orthodox Christian faith and the message of Jesus. He is also the author of this seemingly very simple Serenity Prayer. It seems simple until you start to reflect on the profound meaning of the words in this prayer.

I want to challenge each of us to do several things with this Serenity Prayer:

Memorize it.

Commit to memorize this prayer. Write it on a note card and practice reciting it everyday. Start with the first sentence. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

These first words of the prayer alone will are liberating and powerful. But do not stop there.

To help you memorize it, print out a copy of the prayer and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Attach it to the inside cover of your Bible. Whatever you have to do to commit this to your memory.

Speak it

Pray it out loud directly to God every morning, every night and throughout the day as you need it. Do not just blindly repeat it. Say it to God. Ask for the serenity, the wisdom and the courage. Make it your main prayer every day, and it will begin to change how you see your life, your relationships, your circumstances and your God.

Reflect on it.

Meditate on the meaning of the words in this prayer. Write down the things you cannot change and begin to surrender them to God. Write down the areas in your life where you need courage from the Lord to make changes that will bless and benefit you and others. Reflect on what it means to live one day at a time and enjoy each moment at a time. What hardships do you need to accept and how might you surrender to His will in greater ways?

Commit to live it

Make a decision that you are going to seek to live out this Serenity Prayer. Commit to pray it everyday and look for ways to put it into practice. The last line states that if we do all the aforementioned in this prayer, that we can be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy in the next. Think about that for a minute. It is so true. If we put into practice the words of this prayer, we can, by God’s grace and if we surrender to His will, be reasonably happy in this life. But supreme happiness will only come when we enter into His eternal presence in paradise.

The Serenity Prayer has helped to set a lot of people free from trying to fix and change things (people and circumstances) beyond their control. This prayer has also empowered many to rely on God for their peace and serenity as they are given the courage by God to change the things they can. And, of course, the ones who truly find peace and serenity are the ones who discover the wisdom of God in knowing the difference between the things they can do something about and the things they can’t!


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