I suppose that there are very few people that have never heard of the “Serenity Prayer”. The Serenity Prayer, written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, is arguably one of the most famous and highly regarded prayers ever recorded; perhaps second only to The Lord’s Prayer found in the Bible.
I have found that, whether it be commonly known Bible scriptures, philosophical quotes, or simply commonly known and shared bits of wisdom, the reader, or the person that is hearing the passage, often doesn’t really grasp the power and significance of what is being said. When it comes to something like the Serenity Prayer, a prayer that contains such amazing wisdom and powerful truths, it is terribly sad to think that a person may not fully appreciate the life-changing message that is contained in it’s words. With that thought in mind, I would like to really take an in-depth look at this wonderful prayer and sort of dissect it piece by piece, so that we can really fully consider and appreciate the message that is being conveyed.
There are three distinct parts to this prayer. The first part is a request to God for serenity or peace. The second part is a request to God for courage. The third and final part of the prayer is a request to God for wisdom. If we take a moment to look at each part separately, there are numerous nuggets of wisdom and truth that are not always easily seen or recognized.
The prayer starts off by saying, “God grant me the serenity…” Serenity can be defined as the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. When you look at the meaning of serenity like that, it’s pretty safe to say that we all want to be serene, or to have serenity. Nobody wants to go through life full of stress, turmoil, and emotional storms…even though many people do. The truth is, many people DO go through life an emotional train wreck, and they lack serenity because they are looking for serenity, or peace if you will, in the wrong places. Regardless of how much money you are ever able to attain, how many possessions you acquire, who you surround yourself with, or where you go, there is only one source of serenity or peace. That source is God. The writer of this prayer understood that, hence he was asking God to grant him serenity. In the Bible in John 14:27 Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” True serenity only comes from God.
The prayer continues by asking for the serenity to ACCEPT. The word “accept” can at times be a hard word to swallow. There are times we simply have to accept. Why do people spend so much time fretting about their past, and worried about their future? We need to learn to live in the here and now! In the Bible we read about how the apostle Paul learned to accept. In the Bible in Philippians, Paul said, “…for I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content.” Sometimes, we just need to CHOOSE to be happy where we are.
The prayer continues by reminding us that there are things that come our way in life we simply cannot change. A person can make himself or herself miserable trying to change things that they have no control over. This will leave you emotionally exhausted and feeling like you have failed. The only thing we truly have control over is our attitudes and ourselves.
The second part of the prayer is a petition to God for courage. I doubt there is anyone that doesn’t want and need courage. Something we need to remind ourselves is that courage isn’t necessarily the absence of fear, but it is the willingness to FACE our fears to overcome them. When we face our fears and the challenges that we face head on, rather than running from them, it is then and only then that we will see real change in our lives. This prayer is asking God to give us courage to change the things we CAN change. We all have areas of our lives that we could change, and many of the situations we face can be changed if we have the courage to face our problems and deal with them. One thing I have learned is that if there is anyone that can give you courage it is God! To me courage is almost synonymous with the word faith, but don’t get me started on that! That’s a whole subject in itself that I could go on and on about! Perhaps I will talk about that in another post sometime. All of us can have courage though…. if we ask God for it. God even says in the Bible that he has not given us fear, but instead has given us love, power, and a sound mind. Always know that if you are afraid, the fear you are feeling isn’t from God. God doesn’t give us fear…. he gives us courage.
Finally, the last part of the prayer involves asking God to give us wisdom to be able to differentiate between what we CAN’T change and what we CAN change. One thing is for certain…the sooner we are able to distinguish between the things we can change and the things we cannot change…the sooner we will have a life of true happiness. God will give us wisdom if we ask him for it! In the Bible in James chapter 5 it says, “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.” I don’t know about you, but I know I need all the wisdom I can get. Having wisdom will help us to avoid the many unnecessary mistakes in life that prevent us from being all that God intended for us to be.
Well, there you have it…The Serenity Prayer. If we would all make this prayer our mantra, and bury it deep within our hearts and minds, it will empower us to have lives that are free of turmoil and stress. It’s all about learning to choose your battles wisely, and knowing which ones are worth fighting, and which ones aren’t. As you read this, my prayer for you is that you WILL have the SERNITY to accept the things you cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things you can change, and the WISDOM to know the difference.
Thanks for Reading!
Until Next Time,