The Serenity Prayer

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

I am not an alcoholic, nor a Christian, but I love the Serenity Prayer.

“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.”

It was written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1930s and later adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous (and other addiction programmes) as part of their the twelve-step programme, but I think it applies to all of us.

The one problem I have with the prayer is that it calls on God to help us. I understand that can mean some higher power, rather than the Christian God, but I still find that problematic.

To me, the whole thing is about control – understanding what is within our power and what is not – so then to call on some external force for help implies that finding the courage, the serenity and the wisdom is (at least partly) in the gift of this external power.

I have not been through the programme, so maybe I have misunderstood this part of it, but calling on God seems to contradict the very spirit of taking responsibility on yourself.

Rather than a prayer, then, maybe it should be a motivating statement to yourself:

“I will always endeavour to find the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”

Anyway, it is still a good axiom.

– end –


Published by Peter Runkel. Reluctant business consultant. Trying to find some sort of balance.

Published by Peter Runkel

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

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