The Serenity Prayer: Learning to Let Go

“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.”

Not many people have heard the AA Serenity Prayer before they first attend an AA meeting…but once it’s in your life, it never leaves. The “Serenity Prayer” written by theologian Dr. Rheinhold Niebuhr, provides simple wisdom for complicated people and puts the focus on acceptance and action.

Saying the prayer activates willingness and positivity. Thinking positively (instead of “ Stinking Thinking”) helps people find success in sobriety and avoid relapse.


God: Most people in AA view recovery as a spiritual path, and the Serenity Prayer is a reminder they are not on a journey alone –that they can rely on a “higher power.”

The word “God” in the prayer can make some feel uncomfortable. However, in a spiritual sense, it’s suggested that God can be viewed as anything from nature, to their own inner wisdom to a “G.O.D Group Of Drunks.” The important thing here is not the actual words used but the sentiment that each recovering alcoholic can interpret in their own way.

Acceptance: The serenity prayer reminds us that acceptance is the key to happiness. There are many things we have no power over–trying to fight against or resist the way things are is a waste of energy and only ever leads to suffering. Serenity comes with acceptance.

Courage: Change requires courage because it is taking a step into the unknown. The reason why so many people settle for suffering is fear. Courage is required to keep on making the needed changes that will lead to a better life in sobriety.

Wisdom: The wisdom to know the difference in what is within our control may come from prayer and meditation, or talking to others in sobriety. It’s empowering for recovering addicts to come to believe there are many things they will be able to change, and they should take action when such actions will improve their life.


What is the secret behind the Serenity Prayer’s power? The language is humble, its lessons simple and its history not particularly romantic. But its messages are both personal and universal; easy to understand yet difficult to execute.

The prayer reveals five timeless truths (and no doubt more!) that challenge us to re-imagine what serenity really is:

    1. Acceptance is not laziness.
    2. We must have courage to change ourselves.
    3. Hardship can be good for us.
    4. Surrendering requires courage too.
    5. Happiness is attainable – now and in the future.
Happy, Joyous & Free.
~Faith B.