The Serenity Prayer

Part One ~ IntroductionPart Two ~ Serenity Part Three ~ AcceptPart Four ~ Courage Part Five ~ Wisdom


God, grant me the
to accept the things
I cannot change

to change the
things I can

to know the difference

The Full Version of 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 hardship 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.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr

How Did The Serenity Prayer Originate?

People from around the world have shown great interest in this beautiful prayer and there are a number of theories as to how it originated. One only has to go to a major search engine such as Google and type in Serenity Prayer and you will be presented with hundreds of hits on various views on the history of a prayer that has become synonymous to Twelve Steps Programs everywhere. One interesting version is given at

Little did we know that in 1939 when an AA member who liked the Serenity Prayer so much and brought it to Bill W., the Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous that it would become the most popular prayer in the world. Bill and his staff made up some little cards with the prayer on it and they were printed and passed around. From that day on, this simple and beautiful prayer became a part of the AA movement and subsequently to Twelve Step programs everywhere.

What we have also found interesting is that Reinhold Niebuhr whom many believe wrote the Serenity Prayer denies it and actually credits Friedrich Oetinger, an 18th century theologian, for writing it. This "theory" also suggests that in 1947, Niebuhr read the prayer in an obituary notice in the New York Tribune & was so taken by it that he shared it with Bill Wilson. Perhaps Niebuhr himself, was the "member" spoken of who handed the card to Bill in 1939.

With the Serenity Prayer as well as other inspiring words that speak so eloquently to compulsive eaters and others struggling with addictions, it could be that God in His wisdom orchestrated a series of events that led to the words so many of us say each day ... words which make the quality of our lives a little better ... words that give us hope ... and words that inspire each of us to pray daily for the serenity to accept, the courage to change and, most of all, the wisdom to know the difference.