More to a prayer than a mere four short lines

The “Serenity Prayer”—composed by the famous 20th-Century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr—is a favorite of many people who are under heavy stress. Indeed, it is virtually the official prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous. However, most of those who frequently resort this great prayer are familiar only with its first three lines.

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.

That’s fine—as far as it goes. But it is a pity that they aren’t familiar with the rest of its wonderfully eloquent petitions. It is and elegant and economical summary of the greatest comfort God can give those struggling under the pressures of the modern world.

Here is the prayer in its entirety:

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 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 forever in the next.

Niebuhr (1892-1971) thought of himself, first and foremost, as a preacher and social activist. But the influence of his theological thought on social ethics and society made him a significant intellectual figure in America and Europe. GPH✠

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