Early Version of The Serenity Prayer


Not long ago, I came across a longer version of the well known “Serenity Prayer” written by Reinhold Niebuhr. I especially appreciate the wording of the initial lines of the prayer which resonate with and are more meaningful to me.

The Serenity Prayer

by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God, give us 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.

Note About The Serenity Prayer’s Real Author

You’ll find many references online to some not being sure who really wrote the above prayer, some claiming that Reinhold Niebuhr was not actually the author. Many have researched it, including trying to find out if it even goes back to 500 A.D. Despite all the research, though, it still goes back to Niebuhr being the author.

It certainly appears that Reinhold Niebuhr did indeed write The Serenity Prayer. Niebuhr himself discusses the prayer and how it came about it in his book, The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses. You can read the page yourself via amazon.com here if you wish: The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses, page 251. Niebuhr states,

”… The embarrassment, particularly, was occasioned by the incessant correspondence about a prayer I had composed years before, which the old Federal Council of Churches had used and which later was printed on small cards to give to soldiers. Subsequently Alcoholics Anonymous adopted it as its official prayer. The prayer reads: ‘God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to dintinguish the one from the other.’ …

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