The Meaning of the Serenity Prayer

The Meaning of the Serenity Prayer

The book, Proactive 12 Steps, cites Reinhold Niebuhr’s version of the Serenity Prayer.

His version seems to be the most well known.


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things
I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and the
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.


There appear to be three important parts to understanding the meaning of the Serenity Prayer.  The first is the serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed.  The definition of serenity is a state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.  If one will seek to honestly assess a situation, not be complacent, and learn to accept things it can lead to a sense of peace.  The second part asks for the courage to change the things that can be changed.  The definition of courage is strength in the face of difficulty, pain or grief.  If we seek to intelligently assess and change a situation we can avoid acting impulsively or foolishly.  The third part is to seek wisdom to know the difference – about what can and cannot be changed.

Wisdom is the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application or experience, knowledge, and good judgement.

The difficulty is knowing when to apply these important characteristics, when to be accepting or courageous.

The problem is that denial, rationalization, and self-deception make it challenging for us to tell when and how to apply these characteristics.

Ultimately, if we seek a Higher Power to guide us to assess situations we will make better decisions.

Previous Post
Limiting Child’s Screen Time
Next Post
Serenity Prayer Continued