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The Serenity Prayer

Often referred to by it’s first line (“God grant me the serenity”) this beautiful prayer for serenity, courage and wisdom is one of the world’s most famous prayers. Made popular by the work of Alcoholics Anonymous during the 20th Century, the Serenity Prayer is a firm favourite amongst this group, so much so that it is has become known as the “AA Prayer”. As well as reading and meditating on the full version of the Serenity Prayer, on this page you can also discover who wrote these inspiring words, and what the prayer means for our lives today.

The Serenity Prayer

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 hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.


(prayer attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr, 1892-1971)

resources on this page

The Serenity Prayer

An uplifting reading of this famous prayer set to inspiring music and images:

Serenity Prayer

a printable image of this famous prayer:- Serenity Prayer Poster - Serenity, Courage and Wisdom

Who Wrote The Serenity Prayer?

This prayer is most commonly attributed to the American theologian and writer Reinhold Neibuhr (1892-1971). The prayer appears in print form in 1950, although Reinhold’s wife recounts that it may have been in existence as early as 1934.
The first four lines of the prayer are an adaption of the original text; the next section appears to have been added later by an unknown author.

The meaning of the Serenity Prayer

This short video looks at the meaning behind the serenity prayer and offers some useful tips for applying this inspiring words in our lives:

In the first (and most famous) stanza, there is a three-fold request to God for serenity, courage and wisdom:-

The first two lines are a prayer for peace to accept what can not be altered in oneself (“serenity”).

The third line is a request for fortitude to overcome that which is possible to achieve or overcome (“courage”)

The forth line is a prayer for discernment to know when to accept a situation or when to challenge it (“wisdom”)

There are a number of three-fold prayers in the Christianity. For example, the Lord’s Prayer ends with the declaration “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory”, and the "Gloria Patri" (this is Latin for "Glory to the Father"). Three-fold prayers and declarations also parallel the nature of the Christian God (being three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

The meaning behind the second part of the Serenity Prayer:-

The theme of the second stanza is a prayer that asks for contentment in day-to-day life.

It is a prayer for the acceptance of hardships and a prayer of trust in God that He will bring peace and happiness. The meditation ends by looking forwards to life everlasting beyond the grave, echoing the Christian belief in the hope of eternity (Ephesians 1:18).

Calm instrumental music for encountering God's peace and serenity (this may be used in conjunction with the serenity meditation below):-

Alcoholics Anonymous and the Serenity Prayer

The Serenity prayer is at the very heart of the ethos of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Twelve Steps program, originally published in 1939, emphasizes the need to recognise we have a problem we are unable to change on our own, and belief in a power greater than ourselves who is able to help us. The AA then encourages its members to adopt a new code of behaviour through prayer and the help of a sponsor (another experienced member). This program of twelve steps is not restricted to the work of the AA - it is also the cornerstone of many other groups devoted to the recover of people suffering from behavioural addictions, such as Debtors Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

The 12 Step Lord's Prayer

(Addressing God as the "Higher Power")

Higher Power
Who is always with me
Blessed be Your name.
Come into my life,
Let me know Your will, and help me to live it out each day.
Give me today that which I need
And help me show forgiveness to others
just as You show forgiveness to me.
Please protect me from temptation
And restore me when I fall.
For Everything I have comes from You
And all good things are Yours.
As it has always been, and will always be,
Forever and ever

Thanks to Kevin from Minneapolis, MN, USA for this contemporary version of the Lord's Prayer. For more information about this 12 step prayer version, and a line-by-line commentary, visit Kevin's website - www.12steplordsprayer.org

Serenity Prayer Printable

a free version of the full prayer as a A4 pdf:-
pdf icon

The Serenity Prayer

The full version of the serenity prayer with inspiring images of distant constellations and uplifting music. About 2.45 minutes long.

Some names used for this famous prayer

The serenity prayer is known by many titles. Some popular examples are the "alcoholics prayers", "aa prayer" (the serenity prayer is widely used in the work of alcoholics anonymous), "serenity courage wisdom" (an abbreviation often found on bracelets and in wall art), "God grant me the serenity" (referring to the first line of the prayer) and "prayer of serenity".

The Serenity Prayer in Spanish

Dios concédeme la serenidad para aceptar las cosas que no puedo cambiar,
Valor para cambiar aquellas que puedo,
y sabiduría para reconocer la diferencia.

Is the serenity prayer in the bible?

The serenity prayer is not part of the Bible. It is a prayer from the twentieth century, and attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr. However, much of the sentiment of this prayer is rooted in biblical themes.

The request for "serenity" from God is a common theme in the scriptures. For example, Christ himself promises peace to His followers:-

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.

John 14:27, (GNT)

And the Apostle Paul, when writing to the church at Philippi, implies that the peace of God comes when we have given all our anxious thoughts to God in prayer:-

"In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus."

(Philippians 4:6-7, NHEB)

In the second request for "courage" (to change the things I can), there is a promise in scripture from the writings of the prophet Isaiah:-

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Isaish 41:10, (NLT)

In the letter to James, we are encouraged to ask God for His wisdom, and He will give generously:-

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."

James 1:5 (NIV)

What is God's wisdom? The following is how James defines it. You may find it helpful to look at these attributes and consider if you have them or not when you ask the Lord for wisdom as you pray the serenity prayer:-

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisy.

James 3:17, (NHEB)

There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer.

John Wooden

Five Minute Meditation on the Serenity Prayer

Serenity Prayer - Serenity, Courage & Wisdom

click here to enlarge this serenity prayer image to full resolution

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change"

Serenity is the place where we are calm, peaceful, and free from stress. Begin by stilling your being for one minute. You may want to play some calm, tranquil music such as this prayer music on Youtube. During this time offer to God any anxious thoughts from the day, or anything that may be preoccupying your thinking right now.

"Courage to change the things I can"

The Apostle Paul writes "when I am weak, then I am strong". Bring to mind any areas in your life that you are failing in, and where you want to see change in. Ask God for His courage and strength to overcome these problems. As you meditate on the image above, allow God's light to flood your being with His strength and hope, just as the rays in the picture are flooding the words with light.

"And wisdom to know the difference"

"For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding."

(Proverbs 2:6, NIV)

Everything ultimately comes from our God in heaven - the clothes we wear, the food we eat, our families and loved ones, and the very breath in our bodies. Give thanks to God for His goodness and the wisdom that he has nutured in you. Offer Him your life and allow Him to lead you in the areas where change is possible, and ask for His grace to cover you in the areas where you feel things are too difficult for you right now.

The words in the image above form the shape of a triangle. Just as this prayer has three elements yet is one prayer, so the Lord is three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and yet is one God - perfectly unified in love.

From wisdom we are led back to serenity, and a place of rest and calm. Before you finish spend one more minute receiving God's peace. Allow His peace to permeate your whole being.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"

(Philippians 4:7, NIV)

Prayer for Peace of Mind

You may find it useful to watch the following short (2.30min) film to receive God's peace:-

Take a moment to hear from God...

here are links to some wonderfully inspired prayers to aid your journey