I do some of my best thinking in the warm shower. Heck, I do some of my only thinking in the shower! We’ve talked a lot recently about the burden of carrying anxieties and low-level anger. As I was breathing through a little of that, the Serenity Prayer popped into my mind.
For some reason, reciting that short prayer centers me. It helps me to pause. I’m better able to question what’s really going on in my head and parse out the reasonable from the unreasonable.
But I was equally interested in the prayer’s origin. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr is universally attributed as the author of what we know as “The Serenity Prayer.” Its dissemination was likely from a diary excerpt from Niebuhr’s student and collaborator Winnifred Crane Wygal. Wygal placed the prayer in newspaper articles as early as the 1930s and then, in a somewhat altered form, in a book of worship in 1940.
Interesting. What I didn’t remember was that the prayer was longer than the shortened version we recite today. I thought I might share it with you in hopes it helps you as it does me.
The Serenity Prayer
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. Amen.
The important thing to remember, I think, is that prayer, whether The Serenity Prayer or words the Holy Spirit lays on your heart in the moment, is a great pause button. It should be used liberally.
Now, between you and I and the gatepost – as my dad used to say – I think the author of the article has taken a few verses out of context to fit his purpose. But for me, The Serenity Prayer is still an intimate and heart-felt request to God. What do you think?