*There is a longer version of this prayer but the short version has been popularized and is the subject of my focus.
Although there are earlier versions that captured the concept of the serenity prayer, the actual prayer, as we know it, is credited to the sermons of Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) an American theologian.
The early twelve step groups adopted the prayer in 1941and as the12 Step recovery movement grew, in number and type, the popularity of this little prayer grew as well.
The profound wisdom provided in this twenty-eight-word prayer is powerful and profound. Here’s my take, my understanding and my insights on how this miniature masterpiece works.
God – The first word is a calling upon a higher power, a higher consciousness and a greater energy. I do this with the intention to raise my consciousness above the level of the problem. When I set this powerful intention to connect with a power greater than myself the result is that I am given access to that higher mindedness. When it comes to the word “God”, some people shut down. Don’t let words get in the way, use whatever word works for you. The point is to call upon a higher power.
Grant Me – This is a simple request for grace. When I am humbled enough to recognize that this problem, situation or feeling is more than I can deal with and I ask in faith, it is given.
The Serenity – Serenity is the possession of a peaceful mind. Peace of mind allows a calm to run through my body. Serenity allows me to live in peace even though I have unresolved problems at the present moment. Serenity is what I feel when I am living by the principles offered in this prayer.
To Accept – Acceptance allows me to let go of what I cannot change. When I accept the things I cannot change, I stop fighting with reality. I don’t have to like it, approve of it or get happy about the situation. I just need to recognize the fact that this situation “is what it is” for the lack of a better phrase and it lies outside of my personal power.
The Courage – Courage is what it takes to overcome fear. It’s the power and the empowerment to act upon a situation in order to change the things we can. It’s not what happens to me, it’s what I do with what happens to me, that determines the way I feel about it. It’s my response that often has the biggest impact on the overall outcome. I believe that God can do for us, what he can do through us, so I need the courage to suit up and show up. It takes courage to do what can be done.
The Wisdom– Wisdom is usually attained by attending “the school of hard knocks”, either learning from my own mistakes or as a witness to somebody else’s pain. The beauty of the Serenity Prayer is it reminds me that I can ask my higher power to grant me that wisdom, that inner knowledge, right here, right now. This helps me make better choices. It helps me recognize what is mine and not mine. This wisdom plugs me into my natural intuition and creativity.
Prayer is powerful because prayer focuses the mind on a higher consciousness. When I keep it simple and I use this prayer, I am given the grace of serenity every time.