AA -The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer used in AA – Alcoholics Anonymous – and other Twelve Step programs is based on a poem written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

Niebuhr’s prayer originally asked for courage first, and specifically for changing things that must be changed, not things that simply can be changed:

Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.

A.A. Version of The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the Serenity,

to accept the things I can not change,

Courage to change the things I can, and

Wisdom to know the difference.

Thy will be done, not mine.

A long Version of The Serenity Prayer

There are a number of versions of The Serenity Prayer as well as the original long version. Following is a long version that I enjoy:

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.

Grant me Patience for things that take time;

Appreciation for all that I have;

Tolerance for those with different struggles;

and the Strength to get up and try again;

One day at a time.

Thy will be done, not mine.

Stoic Roots

The Serenity Prayer has its roots in Stoicism as this quote from Epictetus shows us:

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .” —EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.5.4– 5

Learn more

Learn more about The Serenity Prayer on Wikipedia.

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