The Entire Serenity Prayer

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Most of us are very familiar with the Serenity Prayer:

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.

There are a number of aspects of the prayer that most of us are unaware of: It was written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971).  Niebuhr composed the prayer in 1932. It spread rapidly in the 1930’s and 1940’s, mostly through church groups. Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs adopted and popularized the prayer. Earlier versions of the prayer gave it no title, but by 1955 it was being called the Serenity Prayer by AA and others.

Many of us can recite those four lines from memory. But few of us know that Reinhold Niebuhr had composed ten addition lines of the prayer that are rarely, if ever, used: 

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the 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.


In light of the pandemic that we have all endured this past year, the political strains that are ongoing and the racial tensions that seem to be with us every day, I would strongly suggest we add and pray the remaining ten lines of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer. The words speak directly to what our minds, hearts and souls need to reflect upon, put into action, and offer to the God of us all.   I encourage you to share and to pray the entire Serenity Prayer often.


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