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The Serenity Prayer

For many, God is a guiding force in their life.

Prayer is one of the best ways to communicate with Him. As a Christian drug rehab in South Florida, we strongly believe in the power of prayer for healing, including while recovering from addiction. One such prayer that is used frequently during the recovery process is the Serenity Prayer.

What is The Serenity Prayer?

The Serenity Prayer is a specific prayer that is often attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr but may have been written earlier.1 Regardless of the Serenity Prayer’s exact origin, it quickly grew in popularity and has become one of the most well-known prayers in the world. It was later adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs and used regularly in meetings to help people in recovery from addiction.

While many people only quote the first few lines, the full Serenity Prayer is as follows:

“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 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.”

What Does the Serenity Prayer Mean for Recovery?

The Serenity Prayer is not specific to recovery from substance abuse, but it is often used in this context because it applies well to what many people in recovery go through.

The first few lines, “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” are sometimes the only lines people will recite. With recovery in mind, these lines take on a special meaning. The recovering addict is asking God for guidance and relinquishing some control of circumstance, an important aspect of progressing through the 12-Step program. The next few lines of the Serenity Prayer talk about this control in more detail. While they may have gone through treatment and gotten sober, there are still events from their past they cannot change, a fact many recovering addicts struggle with. Also, in early recovery especially, the recovering addict may face trials and tribulations out of their hands. While so much is out of their control, there are still matters they can control: their actions, their attitude, and their sobriety. The Serenity Prayer is a reminder that when you can learn to accept what can and cannot be changed, you can move forward peacefully in life.

While not always used, the remaining lines of the Serenity Prayer hold other important lessons for people in recovery. Because the first few months following drug or alcohol addiction treatment can be trying, “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time” is an important reminder for people to take recovery day-to-day as it makes it both more manageable as well as more enjoyable. These trying times in early recovery should also be seen as a “pathway to peace” and better days, achieved through long-term sobriety and accepting “this sinful world as it is.” Finally, the Serenity Prayer ends with more lines about submitting to God’s power to reap the benefits in heaven. These closing lines reinforce the idea that through God’s guidance and grace, one can someone fully heal and find happiness.

At Faith in Recovery, we offer Christian therapies for addiction to help our patients not only find recovery but also find God on their sobriety journey. The Serenity Prayer is one of many programs we use to help our patients strengthen their faith and find spiritual healing.

If you or a loved one is looking for help for an addiction that is faith-focused, reach out to us today at 888-280-4763.


  1. The New York Times- Serenity Prayer Stirs Up Doubt: Who Wrote It?