The Serenity Prayer
Reihold Niebuhr published the entire prayer in 1951. It has been a staple in most all Addictions Anonymous groups ever since. The second part of the prayer is as profound as the first even though not nearly as familiar.
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. Amen.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”
Barbara Johnson says, “Life is so much better now that I have given up hope.” Most of my frustrations in life have come via trying to change the unchangeable. This side of Jesus’ return, the world is never going to know peace. This world is ruled by the devil who stole the authority when Adam and Eve ate the poison fruit in the Garden. The middle letter in S-I-N is “I.” It is all about I, me, my, mine. Satan is the poster boy for independence. It also stands for living independently on our own rather than in dependence upon God.
Once you give up hope that everything and everybody is going to do things your way, life will become so much better for you. Jesus said in this world you will have trouble, so get over yourself. Some people are never going to change and that’s okay. Maybe they don’t need to change. Maybe I need to change, which leads me to my second point.
“God, grant me the courage to change the things I can change…”
Control is an illusion. We have about as much control over what happens in our lives as a leaf in a tornado. The only thing I control is how I think. The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we allow our minds to dwell on. Altering the way we think and feel is the only lasting way to change the way we act. I have found that my circumstances seldom change when I pray. What does change when I pray is how I see and feel about those circumstances. Lord, change me. I am the only one choosing for me. And I choose to let you change me. The rest is Your job.
“God, grant me the wisdom to know the difference…”
Herein lies the rub. Knowing what things can and should be changed and what can’t or shouldn’t be. Here where we need to allow Jesus to be wisdom for us. If we trust in Him with all our hearts and don’t lean on our own understanding, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
We need to pray about what we think to see if He put the thought there or someone else. Then we need to pray to have His mind about everything. Once we have His mind, we can put feet on our prayers. But don’t get in a hurry. I’ve learned that if I lag behind God, I might miss a blessing or two, but if I run ahead of Him, I always run smack-dab into trouble.
Wait. Be still. Listen. Think. Get His mind about it. Then just do what He tells you to do. It works for me when I practice what I preach. I know it will work for you as well.
Live one day at a time. Enjoy one moment at a time. Accept hardship as a pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as you would have it. Trust that God will make all things right, if you surrender to His will. Do that and you will be reasonably happy in this life, and over-the-top happy in the next.
Life by the yard can be pretty hard, but by the inch, it’s a cinch!