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W for Whiskey, W for Wisdom

I remember the first time I came across the Serenity Prayer, it was way back in school on a bookmark sold by the Sisters at the annual charity book sale. I bought the bookmark and still have it somewhere buried in all my treasures. The words though stuck in my head and got refreshed a few times over the years when I came across the prayer off and on.

And then I thought of it again, when I thought about Wisdom the other day. And as always I went looking on Google and found a Wiki page on it.

God, grant me –
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

There is something about this prayer that is haunting, it’s simple and yet holds a world on meaning. Almost as if, if you understood it’s depths, you’d find enlightenment and eternal peace.

Here’s some things I also found out on Wiki about the Serenity Prayer.

This prayer though commonly known as The Serenity Prayer was originally an untitled prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian around 1943. Today The Serenity Prayer has been adopted by the Alcoholics Anonymous and many other twelve-step programs.

The original, attributed to Niebuhr, is:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


The Serenity Prayer has been a part of the  Alcoholics Anonymous since 1941.

The adapted prayer used by the Alcoholics Anonymous was: ″Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.″

However the 12 Step Groups adopted a slightly different version: ″God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.″

Some precursors to the prayer that struck a cord with me…

If there’s a remedy when trouble strikes,
What reason is there for dejection?
And if there is no help for it,
What use is there in being glum?
– 8th-century Indian Buddhist scholar Shantideva

“And they said: At the head of all understanding – is realizing what is and what cannot be, and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.”
– 11th century Jewish philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.
–  philosopher W.W. Bartley in a Mother Goose rhyme

And here are a couple of modern day versions 😀

The Serenity Prayer is quite a famous prayer and has been used in music, books and even movies. Some places the prayer appears are in Robert Downey, Jr. song “Broken” on his album The Futurist, he sings part of the prayer, Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughterhouse-Five and in the movie Flight where William “Whip” Whitaker (played by [Denzel Washington]), a recovering alcoholic and drug user, has a copy of the prayer at the end of the 2012 film.

A simple prayer and yet it packs a punch. It has so much to it and encompasses so much. The Serenity Prayer is a prayer I like to revisit often.

Have you come across The Serenity Prayer before? Do you like it?

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