Friday, March 6, 2015

Serenity Prayers -

My research skills (ha!) helped me to uncover a few things about the ever-popular, ever-powerful Serenity Prayer. These included - the original poem, variants of, and the Prayer as shared today. 

If you really want to feel the power of the Prayer, try planking while reciting the original. Seriously - a deeper understanding comes when you're pushing through some productive pain - 

The most well-known form of the Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr is this approximately 1941 version:

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.

A variant attributed to Niebuhr in a 1937 Christian student publication:

Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.

8th-century Indian Buddhist scholar Shantideva of the ancient Nalanda University expressed a similar sentiment:

If there’s a remedy when trouble strikes,
What reason is there for dejection?
And if there is no help for it,
What use is there in being glum?

The 11th century Jewish philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol wrote:

And they said: At the head of all understanding – is realizing what is and what cannot be, and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.

The philosopher W.W. Bartley juxtaposes without comment Niebuhr's prayer with a Mother Goose rhyme (1695) expressing a similar sentiment:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

An original text for the Serenity Prayer was:

Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.

A slightly different version of the prayer has been adopted by 12 Step Groups:

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


  1. I love this prayer. Nice post.

    I've found a lot of solace within the past few years in the practice of Stoicism. The "Serenity Prayer" perfectly encapsulates the core ideals of the stoic (adding the bit about God of course).

  2. I think the Serenity Prayers allow us to be stoic, in peace. By turning our woes over to our Higher Power, we arrive at that higher place of being, where complaining is no longer of any value.

    And by the way - who are you?!