Why the Serenity Prayer?
There are prayers for virtually every circumstance in life. We pray for trivial do-overs
and crucial hope against the odds. We ask God for mundane favors and extraordinary
With thousands of prayers written and available, why in moments of challenge do so
many choose to utter the words of the Serenity Prayer? To find an answer, let's examine
some other regularly offered reverent prayers.
The Lord's Prayer solemnly asks forgiveness and guidance: "... forgive our trespasses as
we forgive those who trespass against us; lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
The Prayer of St. Francis eloquently asks that we be of service to others: "Lord, make me
an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, I may bring love; where there is wrong,
I may bring the spirit of forgiveness..."
The Prayer of Jabez asks for personal gain and protection: "Oh, that You would bless me
indeed, and enlarge my territory... that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain... "
The Serenity Prayer, in its most familiar twenty-five word abbreviated text, humbly asks
for clarity, willingness, acceptance, courage and wisdom.
In moments of strife, what better asset than our own most clear judgment? The Serenity
Prayer petitions God to grant us peace of mind and heart ("God grant me the serenity...")
in order that we see through the clutter of fears, doubts and resentments which so often
cloud our perception of our circumstances.
The prayer asks that we be gifted with willingness to accept what is at hand ("...to
accept the things I cannot change.."). It asks that we give up the fights which cannot or
should not be won, the circumstances which cannot or should not be altered. It reminds
us that, despite our most fervent desires and best of intentions, we are not God. We are
mere mortals - albeit Divinely Created Children Of God - but still mortals just the same.
We endeavor not to place ourselves in a position to control other people, places or
The Serenity Prayer nevertheless beseeches God for courage to overcome our
innermost fears and, when appropriate, to take action ("...courage to change the things I
Fear of ridicule can block us from speaking our minds. Fear of rejection holds us back
from expressing love and admiration for others. Fear of injury bars us from adventure
and exploration. Fear of failure sabotages our willingness to follow our dreams.
Through the Serenity Prayer we ask God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves -
to silence the pervasive fears which undermine the quality of our lives. We ask for
courage to conquer those personal hurdles we previously thought insurmountable. We
ask for fortitude to right the wrongs which will help make our world a better place.
And finally, the Serenity Prayer asks of God that we may be wise at those times when
we are least prone to be so ("... and the wisdom to know the difference.").
At times of emotional disturbance or indecision, the right course of action is often
blurred. As we quietly say the Serenity Prayer, we pray for wisdom to discern between
that which will be of most service to God and our fellows, and those ill-advised actions
which will, in the long run, ultimately bring regret and misery to ourselves and others.
And at the conclusion of the Serenity Prayer, many of us reaffirm to God our humble,
grateful reliance upon Him by saying the words, "Thy Will, not mine, be done."
- Jack Bielan