What Is The AA Serenity Prayer?

The Serenity Prayer is a key component of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs. Often recited at the end of the meetings, this prayer focuses on the relationship between peace and sobriety, and it recognizes the importance of letting go.

What Is The AA Serenity Prayer?

In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the Serenity Prayer acts as a daily reflection on the relationship between inner peace and sobriety.

Serenity refers to remaining in the present moment by letting go of control and accepting life on life’s terms.

Sometimes referred to as the “AA prayer,” reciting the Serenity Prayer is a routine part of 12-step programs, like AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). It’s often used to close a meeting.

Keep reading to learn about the history of the Serenity Prayer, its long and short versions, and how it came to play such an important role in support groups like AA.

The Serenity Prayer: Where Did It Come From?

Although its origins are debated, some believe the Serenity Prayer was written in 1932 by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, a professor at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

The prayer’s popularity snowballed among church groups after Niebuhr presented it during a 1943 sermon at the Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, MA.

The Serenity Prayer And AA

In 1941, after the Serenity Prayer was published in an obituary in the New York Herald Tribune, the prayer was adopted as a key component of AA. Since then, it has served as a mantra for the sick and suffering everywhere, both in and beyond AA meetings.

AA’s co-founder William Wilson said the following of the Serenity Prayer: “Never have we seen so much AA packed into so few words.”

Long And Short Versions Of The Serenity Prayer

There are two versions of the Serenity Prayer: a long and a short version. The short version is the most common and is often recited at the end of AA meetings.

The short version of the Serenity Prayer is:

“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.”

The longer prayer is less commonly known, but it is still highly relatable to AA.

The full Serenity Prayer is:

“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.
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 things right
if I surrender to His will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever and ever in the next.

The Serenity Prayer And Its Powerful Message

The Serenity Prayer is a reminder that some situations are within our control while others are not.

Sometimes, people with substance use disorders talk in AA meetings about situations that they can’t control, or moments in their life that don’t go according to plan.

A major part of substance use recovery is learning how to “live life on life’s terms.” This idea is centered on letting go of the desire to change people and circumstances that we have no control over.

These uncontrollable moments might act as a trigger and significantly impact mental health. But in recovery, people are taught to use these experiences as opportunities to learn and grow.

The Serenity Prayer encourages people to take action when they have the opportunity to change a situation. Action may entail “doing the right thing,” talking to a sponsor, or knowing when to let go.

The Use Of “God”

God is mentioned several times in the Serenity Prayer. Unfortunately, this word can sometimes discourage new members from trusting the AA process.

In its early days, AA was rooted in Christianity and recognized as a Christian program. But it’s important to note that today AA is not a religious program; it’s a spiritual program.

When reading “the big book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, you’ll notice the word “god” is used throughout. However, the term “higher power” is used interchangeably, as well.

When you enter AA, you’ll learn that “god” refers to a higher power of your own choosing. Your higher power can be based in a religion, or it doesn’t have to be associated with a religion at all.

For some, it can be helpful to replace the word “god” with the term “higher power.” This will make the prayers more relatable to you.

Find Freedom From Addiction Today

There is always a path to recovery. If you or a loved one is dealing with addiction, contact AddictionResource.net and connect with a treatment center today.

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