The Serenity Prayer

The Complete, Unabridged Version

Group Holding Hands
God, Grant Me the Serenity... © Getty Images

Brilliant in its simplicity, The Serenity Prayer is one of the key spiritual tools used by virtually all 12-step recovery support groups.


  • 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.


Sometimes referred to as "the A.A. acceptance prayer," the Serenity Prayer is usually recited at the beginning of almost all 12-step group meetings, and at many meetings at the end also.

For so many people in desperate situations -- seeking peace, strength, and wisdom -- those simple words, whispered to a "God as they understand him," have seen them through the darkest hours.

They have come to believe that those qualities can come only from a power greater than themselves. And because they believe, they find the serenity, courage, and wisdom they seek from somewhere outside themselves to face another situation, another step, and another day.

Although literally millions of people -- in and out of the recovery community -- have been helped and strengthened by those few lines, few are aware they are actually the first stanza of the entire prayer as penned in 1943 by Reinhold Niebuhr, who may not be the original author, however.

For those who may be curious, and for those who are seeking the full power that lies within, we present here the complete and unabridged prayer:

The Complete Serenity Prayer


  • God, give us 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.


    -- Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)