Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Serenity Prayer

Welcome to March and Step 3 -- Give up the delusion of control. To get us in the mood to consider control, here is the serenity prayer used in AA and other 12 step programs.

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.

This step has been a real challenge for me in my life. Learning to identify and accept the things I cannot change has been one of the most important steps for me in finding my happy place and staying there.

Focusing on this issue this month is especially timely for me as I struggle to accept changes in my life now that I can't control. Life is offering me a wonderful opportunity to walk my talk!

I hope you will join me in exploring this issue, sharing stories and ideas, and finding ways to develop habits of acceptance, courage, and discernment.


  1. It's a very brave thing to do. I struggle to know the difference sometimes. I can't wait to see your other March posts and see how you accept those changes - I'm with you all the way - Good Luck! :)

  2. I think the serenity prayer should say "God grant me the serenity to notice the things I cannot change".

    How do we know what we can and cannot change? I know you can't always change people. But what about plans for your future?

  3. Oh isn't that the truth. It is often hard to accept the things we cannot change. But what a wonderful opportunity you have ahead of you..."walk your talk". That is a saying I use quite often.

  4. Bz--Thanks for the support! I need it!

    ryoko--I think that comes with the wisdom part of the prayer--the wisdom to know the difference. I've observed that if it is outside my own self, I probably can't control it! For example, I had plans for my future this year, and I can take steps in that direction, but I see now that I can't control the outcome.

    Mitzi--Yes, I have spent a lot of my life trying to control things I couldn't. I finally wore myself out and started to let go.

  5. Galen: One of my favorites ... thanks for bringing it top of mind. It really is all about realizing the wisdom from that prayer and trusting that everything always works out just the way it should.

  6. I sometimes wish AA hadn't picked up that prayer and made it their own. It's such a beautiful statement of letting go. The struggle with alcohol [whilst immense] is not the only one... in fact... everyone on the planet struggles to some degree with issues of control and the relinquishing of it. It's a tough call sometimes... and a fine line.

  7. I have the wisdom, just not the will to change or notice change and so on.

  8. Sibyl--This short prayer covers a lot of ground! Thanks for your cmment

    Jean--I don't think AA would mind sharing it! Your comment mande me wonder where this prayer originated. I'll see if I can find out.

  9. Bernie--Well, wisdom is more than many people have!

  10. Jean, being a member of AA I can say that this prayer has saved a lot of lives, changed tons of people and that it's a prayer which anyone can utilize at any time. I don't believe that it's an AA exclusive prayer and the first verse of it is the one which I use. I'll see if I can find the rest of the prayer and post it here, if you don't mind Galen.

  11. darlin--I did look up the prayer origin. It is attributed to a theologian who used it in a sermon in 1934, as I remember. A member of AA later introduced it to AA and you know the rest. I didn't know there was more to the prayer--I would love to see the rest of it. And you are right--no prayer is exclusive!

  12. Hi again,

    Here's the full version of the Serenity Prayer and the information I found on it.

    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.

    Living one day 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,

    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

    A Brief History of the Serenity Prayer

    There are many theories, but no one really knows who wrote the Serenity Prayer or when it was written. One theory suggests that it was written in 500A.D. by a philosopher named Boethius who became a martyr for the Christians of his time.

    A theologian in the 1930's and 1940's named Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr is often cited as the author, but he read it in an obituary notice and gave credit to an earlier 18th century theologian. It is claimed that Dr. Niebuhr was so impressed by the prayer that he brought it to the attention of Bill W., one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was so suited for the needs of AA it became a key part of the AA movement and their 12 step program. Alcoholics Anonymous and the other 12 step programs deserve the credit for making the Serenity Prayer so popular in the 20th Century.

    I also have yet another version which I will find on one of my computers here and post it once I do. It's interesting to seek out this information, now I know as well what the theory is about who penned the Serenity Prayer. Only the first part is used in AA.

  13. darlin--Thank you so much for this additional information!


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