The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference;


Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship 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.


Dr. Ogura’s Comment

In AA or other Twelve Step programs, the first paragraph of this “Serenity Prayer” is frequently recited or quoted. But a few people know the rest of the paragraphs of this Prayer. Here we present you the entire paragraphs of the Serenity Prayer.


The first paragraph is very profound. When it says, “God, grant me --,” it is implying that we cannot gain the serenity, the courage, nor the wisdom by our will or effort and, therefore, these must be granted by God. Too many people misunderstand this paragraph and think that they can gain the serenity, the courage, and the wisdom on their own or by “working on them.” “Prayer” means “surrendering.” When we feel totally powerless, we pray. By doing so, we are actually trying to “turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him (third step of the Twelve Steps).”


As we surrender to the care of God (as we understood Him), we will be “granted” the serenity, the courage, and the wisdom to the degree of our surrendering. It is important to know that “surrendering” is a process like climbing a mountain. As we struggle to go up higher, we gain better and better commands and views as a reward for our hard climb. God grants us the serenity, the courage, the wisdom as we deepen our surrender to Him.


A portion of the second paragraph, “One Day at A Time,” is frequently quoted. “Living” means that we must focus on each day and live the best as we can. In order to truly “live” one day at a time, we must learn to “enjoy” each moment as well as “accept” hardship. Since life presents numerous moments of joy or hardship, we must go through each moment the best we can, no matter what it might be.  When we have joy, we must appreciate it to the fullest. When we go through a hardship, we must take it as a pathway or as a Heavenly gift or challenge to deepen our surrendering and reach deeper serenity and inner peace.


The third paragraph is dealing with “Acceptance.” We tend to “demand” within our heart how the world should be or how we want it to be. We demand people, places, and things around us to be what we want them to be rather that “accepting” the way they are. But we have no control over people, places, and things. The only choice we have is to “accept” people, places and thing as they are. This also implies that, by “accepting,” we are “surrendering” to His Will.


The fourth paragraph also deals with “surrendering” issue. When we surrender to His Will and accept people, places and thing as they are, we begin to see that all the people, places and things have always been “right.” Once we give up our will (or demands and expectations), we suddenly start accepting the “Way It Is” as created and run by Him. After all, “All is well under the Heavens.”


The last paragraph may invite various misunderstandings. “Reasonably happy in this life” means that we can still be reasonably happy while struggling to surrender (in this life). “Supremely happy with Him forever” comes when we have totally surrendered to Him and gained ultimate unity with Him (in the next). In Zen tradition, “enlightenment” often brings about such “supremely happy” state of mind. Since there have been many people like Zen masters who achieved this state of mind, we can also strive for and attain it in this life time!

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