What makes the Serenity Prayer so powerful that millions of people use it daily to deal with tough situations? It is a magical prayer of hope that produces immediate changes in attitudes and outcomes.
I used to think the Serenity Prayer was a bit trite, even corny. So unoriginal. Shouldn’t I come up with my own personal plea for help in times of trouble? You know the times I’m talking about – when out of the blue something happens or something is said, and you feel compelled to REACT – and react badly.
As a recovering alcoholic, I have learned that I can’t afford this kind of willful anger. No matter how infuriated I become, an angry outburst is not an option. When these times come, my subconscious, knee-jerk reaction is to silently begin reciting the Serenity Prayer.
God, grant me the Serenity
For me, reciting that short, simple prayer can work wonders by changing the way I am looking at a situation. It reminds me that there are certain things, in fact many things, that are just the way they are. Period. I cannot change them, and I especially cannot change them by my frustration or anger. And I remember that I’d really rather just be happy (or serene, as it says in the prayer) than right. Acceptance.
Then the Serenity Prayer turns my attention to being courageous in my thinking. I am reminded to step up to the plate and try changing what I definitely CAN change: my attitude or my thinking. It really only takes a tiny bit of humility to just let go and let God. Acceptance.
And then comes the WISDOM. I admit it feels really good to possess a little wisdom. Not the know-it-all kind of wisdom, but the kind that makes you stand just a little taller and feel a little more alive. Like being in on a secret that only a few privileged souls are in on. It is God’s Wisdom, and it helps in whatever situation I find myself.
There is a scripture in the Book of James that says, “ If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5) Isn’t that great news?! All we have to do is ask to be in on the secret!
The beauty of this short and sweet little prayer is that it is so AVAILABLE, so memorizable, so down-right useful.
We all know that madness can emerge out of nowhere at times - when all of a sudden criticism turns our faces red with rage, frustration over one thing after another sends our blood pressure through the roof, or fear and worry escalate beyond reason. We’ve all been there. That’s just Life on Earth.
Well, as a recovering alcoholic, I have learned that I had better steer clear of reacting badly in situations like this because with me, one thing can lead to another . . . If I string several of these inevitable bouts of madness together with equally mad responses on my part, I take the risk of returning to old behavior. You guessed it: A Drink To Take the Edge Off God, Forbid!
So instead, I begin silently reciting the Serenity Prayer to get my thoughts back on track.
Try it. It works!
I suppose the Serenity Prayer has been part of the very fabric of Alcoholics Anonymous because, more than any other slogan or prayer, it summarizes the essence of the AA way of life. It reminds us to accept life on life’s terms; in other words, to trust that God is in full control of all aspects of this life, so we can relax and trust.
In fact, the Serenity Prayer is recited at the beginning of each AA meeting.
For a little AA History on the Serenity Prayer, this link will enlighten you more.
Finally, let me share with you my favorite version of the Serenity Prayer. If the first few stanzas aren’t enough to bring you a sense of peace, check out the remainder of this prayer! This, to me, just sums it all up – then leaves me with a feeling of comfort and hope!
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 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.