God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”

This is a short version of a very well known and used prayer. Written by Reinold Niebuhr (1829 – 1971).  He devised this prayer for a sermon at Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, Massachusetts. It was used widely in sermons as early as 1934 and first published in 1951 in a magazine. article. It is used widely today as a form of meditation for both christians and non christians alike. So lets look at it in more depth.

“God”, can be anything that you wish. It does not have to be the great creator, the king of all kings or such like. God can be anything but yourself, your own will or determination. Therefore you are asking your someone to grant you serenity. Everyone has the power inside to do this if they choose and have inner strength.

“Serenity”. The dictionary tells us that this is a state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled.  Doesn’t that sound nice. Does this state of mind exist in the world today? We live in a twenty four hour, seven days a week world. People hurrying through life and not noticing the beautiful world or other human beings. Rushing to meet deadlines of their own in a very selfish, self contained way. Life literally at their finger tips . Very little time for true friendship or family, little time to understand others in very different situations than themselves. This is not the being calm, peaceful and untroubled state of serenity.

“Accept” this is to both know and understand not only our own lives but other peoples lives as well. Holding things close to our hearts. Once we have accepted both good and bad things we find peace. Peace in our hearts and minds. Acceptance is the key.

“Change” this is inevitable. It is around everyday. The seasons change. The weather changes and people change. Life is about change, it would be very boring if the world and our lives didn’t change. What we do about change is up to us, how we handle change is also a very individual thing. It is advisable to accept it, if we wish to have a more serene existence. However this can take a lot of “Courage”

“Courage” People who have had troubled lives have courage because at times there has been no other option at all. The courage to get out of bed in a morning and face the world, face the work day or even a days holiday. This is hard for many humans to understand. However it is a reality for many people. Other people think it is courageous to do a marathon for charity and revel in their own glory. polar opposites but both very courageous. Courage comes from within. It is in us all and we only find true courage when we need it.

Although this prayer was written decades ago. It is used internationally, by many people.  It gives inspiration and answers to everyday life. Perhaps if more people used it there would be more serenity on a personal level as well as a national and international level. Perhaps people would converse more, be more giving and loving, the list is endless… Would the world be a better a place?

Personally, I need this prayer /meditation. My personal religious / spiritual views are not biased with this meditation, I simply ask for a very rare thing, “Serenity”.  If I have a little of this I can give more, love more and be a little more comfortable in this crazy, crazy world.


I thank Reinhold Niebuhr for his words of wisdom.


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