Staff Notes – Nathan McLellan: Serenity Prayer

I’m surprised I haven’t seen any social media posts this week with the Serenity Prayer (perhaps that reflects my narrow social media circle).  A modified and expanded version of a prayer originally penned by Reinhold Niebuhr, the Serenity Prayer exemplifies an ethical tradition known as “Christian Realism” (of whom Niebuhr was a key figure in the twentieth century). It attempts to hold together limitation, sinfulness, and the action of a God who can do what, at times, seems humanly impossible. The prayer is below. Hopefully, you’ll see why I’m surprised that I haven’t seen it on social media, and why I think it’s a good prayer for us at this time (albeit that I might quibble with it at a couple of points). 

God, give me 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.  Amen