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Modern Day Proverb by Reinhold Niebuhr

Updated on January 13, 2012
Reinhold Niebuhr
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.


Refuted claims

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.

Serenity Prayer AA Necklace
Serenity Prayer AA Necklace | Source



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

AA Meeting
AA Meeting | Source
Dog Tags
Dog Tags

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.
Amen.

The Author

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"

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    • profile image

      stessily 6 years ago

      Ann, It's a lovely prayer which has been a source of comfort and inspiration for many. Its wisdom is timeless.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      I love that prayer. I am going to use a line from it for my next hub. It touches something deep inside me. Thanks so much.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      It's a wonderful prayer! Voted up and passed on.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Wonderful words for a prayer. voted up, awesome and beautiful.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      The prayer is a beautiful prayer and holds special meanings and hopes, for all pray it and believe in it.

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