Sunday, September 3, 2006


Why don't we call this the "Courage Prayer?" Or the "Wisdom Prayer?" We call it the "Serenity Prayer," I suppose, because that's the first request in it. But serenity, by itself, is not what is requested. Maybe it's what follows the leading sentence that justifies it being referred to for its call for serenity. I have prayed this prayer occasionally--sometimes out of empathy for others and sometimes in my own periods of frustration about things apparently beyond my control or reach to influence positively. At least a few times I have deplored this prayer, calling it the "Prayer of Acquiescence," after hearing people misuse it to justify their own inaction or refusal to address a clearly rectifiable injustice. Today, however, I prayed it truly in a search for wisdom "to know the difference" and for the trust that God will, with or without my willful action, make all things right.

God grant me 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 Jesus 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;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr


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