“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.” These are the words popularly known as the Serenity Prayer, well loved and used over the years by many people of different religions, nationality and culture. Different versions and languages of the prayer have emerged but up to this day the prayer’s authorship remains uncertain. Although it is usually attributed to Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr, an American Protestant theologian who was believed to have written the prayer in 1943, the editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, Fred Shapiro brought out evidence that printed versions of the prayer surfaced in the middle of the 1930s. Others also claim that its origins can be traced back as early as the 1700s and even earlier to 500 A.D.
With Reinhold Niebuhr’s consent, the prayer became popular when it was printed and distributed to the U.S. military early in World War II. The Alcoholics Anonymous, an international organization of men and women who desire to abstain from drinking alcohol and other 12-step recovery communities also adapted the prayer and actively use it as a spiritual tool to help in their healing.
Most people use it to uplift their spirits others use it for encouragement. With its popularity worldwide, the words of the prayer in different versions are printed in cards, memorabilia and other mediums distributed for sale. It has likewise become one of the most popular Catholic Church prayers of all time along with The Lord’s Prayer, The Hail Mary, Psalms 23rd, and the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, which are also published in a variety of mediums for worldwide distribution. References to the prayer are also very common in books, music and movies.
For many people the prayer is an empowering instrument in despondent times. Reciting the prayer alone gives them the peace they search for in life. Many individuals use it as part of their zealous rituals, giving it an important place in their daily devotions prior to praying for personal needs, healing and prosperity. The prayer’s significance varies for different people. It is truly an inspiring prayer, pleading for an unselfish desire to accept the realities of life with calmness of heart. The serenity it speaks of means a trusting heart, a hopeful and discerning heart that amidst the constant changes in life, the should remain at peace with the knowledge that the varying circumstances around your life are revealed to you for a purpose, to see through this purpose and have confidence in the God you are praying to.
If you want to study some biblical bases for the Serenity Prayer, you can read some scriptures in the Bible, which will help you apply that same prayer in your life. Apart from the prayer example Jesus provided in Matthew 6:10-14, a lot of verses teach about prayer and some of them are found in 1 Peter 5:7, Matthew 11:29-30, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 13:-5, and Philippians 4:7. These verses clearly convey that you can make your request known unto God and that genuine peace can only be found in Him.