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Modern Day Proverb by Reinhold Niebuhr
The famous 'Serenity Prayer"
This famous prayer was tagged at the end of a sermon by Mr. Niebuhr. Never before has such few words packed so much power and wisdom. It is displayed on walls, written in greeting cards and imbedded into the heart and soul of Alcohol Anonymous philosophy. It is thought by many as a proverb that stands alongside The Lord's Prayer and Prayer of St. Francis.
Here and there people have questioned its originality. All the way back to Cicero, similar words were found in religious writings. Niebuhr was very modest about his role in the prayer, saying he may have used words of other writings, but he is indisputably the author of these particular words.
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
The rest of the prayer
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Reinhold Niebuhr was born in Wright City, Missouri to a protestant minister. At age 10 he began to focus on theology and eventually earned a master of divinity from Yale University. While pastoring, he became interested in issues of social justice. Being aware of the vices of his generation, he applied for a professorship at a Theological Seminary. Teeming with other intellectuals, he researched at the Institute of War and Peace, integrating christian beliefs with political theory. A series of promotions advanced him to 'Professor of Ethics'.
1942 brought attention to the Serenity Prayer. It was published in the New York Tribune, which brought the attention of A.A. It gained popularity and was printed on small cards and sent to USO troops. This widespread publication canonized the prayer to fame.
Other quotes of Niebuhr
"Evil is not to be traced back to the individual but to the collective behavior of humanity"
"Forgiveness is the final form of love"
"Goodness, armed with power is corrupted, and pure love without power is destroyed"
"The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan value and ends, is the source of all religious fanaticism"