Be informed. Be challenged. Be inspired.


DAVID ADAMS looks at a prayer that has helped many people around the world in a time of need…

PICTURE © Alfonso Romero/

“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.

Popularised as part of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program, the origins of the many (including longer) versions of the Serenity Prayer remain a matter of much speculation although it is generally attributed to US Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and was believed to have been written in the first half of the 20th century.

While there is a story that Dr Niebuhr wrote it for a sermon he gave in Massachusetts in 1943, instances of it have been found prior to that date suggesting that if he did write it, it was done so some years prior.

AA, which has used the prayer since 1941, even records that Dr Niebuhr once said an interview that while he believed he wrote it himself, it may have been around – in some form or another – for centuries before that (there have apparently been claims made for everyone from St Thomas Aquinas to St Augustine).

Origins aside – and there’s no doubt the debate over it will continue – the prayer is a simple but powerful expression, not only of the role we can play in our walk with Christ – and the courage we need to step out at the appropriate time – but also an acknowledgement that there is a “greater power” in our lives; that there are things in our life which we have no control over and which, trusting in God, we have to leave up to Him.

But knowing when we need to step out and when we shouldn’t can be a difficult thing to discern which is why we pray for the wisdom to be able to work out when it’s up to us and when it’s not.

The concepts expressed in this prayer are easy enough to grasp but the working out of them in our lives is an ongoing challenge.

Has a great Christian prayer particularly inspired or challenged you? Leave a comment below or send an email to [email protected] to let us know.


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