Serenity Prayer and 7 Lessons From It

by Derek Hill · Print Print · Email Email

The Serenity Prayer is one of the most widely known prayers in existence. It was written and published by Reinhold Niebuhr in 1951, although he had used it much earlier in a sermon in 1943. This prayer is chalk full of lessons to learn. Here is the prayer and 7 lessons we can learn from it:

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 all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Be Content

Whatever it is that we can’t change we must be content and know that God has it under control.

Whatever it is that we can’t change we must be content and know that God has it under control.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” Serenity means to be in a calm/peaceful state. The things in life that we can’t change (your spouse, boss, natural disasters etc.) can be looked at in a calm matter. Whatever it is that we can’t change we must be content and know that God has it under control. Nothing happens without His approval. He is sovereign over all things. “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)

Be Bold

“God grant me…courage to change the things I can.” We all should be bold and confident when we are able to make a change for the better. By all means, God calls us to love, so if you can love others by changing anything at all, do it with courage! God is with you, so there is no reason to fear. God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)


“God grant me…wisdom to know the difference.” James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” If you have sin that needs repenting of, you will not be granted wisdom by God. Reconcile to Him first and then ask for wisdom. He will give you the knowledge to know what things you can or cannot change.

The Time Is Now

“Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time.” It is human nature to think ahead and plan, but what about right now? What about this very second in time? Cherish the present or you will miss out on life. The song “The Cat’s in the Cradle” comes to mind. A dad is so involved in what he is doing and planning ahead that he misses out on watching his son grow up. Don’t miss out on now! Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34)

God’s Will Be Done

“Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.” Nothing surprises God, which includes all of the hardships we face. Indeed, the hardships are a pathway to peace. There is no peace like the peace that passes all understanding. Have you experienced this? This is the overwhelming presence of God’s almighty calm. This peace you feel goes hand in hand with your trust in God. When you experience this peace you can also know that your faith is growing because you are relying completely on God to take care of everything. So, embrace this world for what it is, and love through the roughest storms. God has already ordained your situations yesterday, today and tomorrow. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

We Trust/God Restores

“Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will.” God will make things right no matter if we surrender to Him or not. God is a just God and He always does things rightly. However, He will make things right between you and Him when you surrender to Him. Let God take the driver’s seat and He will lead you exactly where He wants you to be. “Therefore, we have been justified (made right) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)


“That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.” God loves us all and He does want the best for us all, which includes times of great happiness and joy. Such times can include: weddings, newborn babies, promotions, unexpected blessings and so on. God loves blessing His children, so enjoy those times and look with hope towards heaven where true happiness is at its fullest! Can you imagine how much joy will overflow from you as you walk with Jesus in heaven! It will be so amazing!

Also, something to think about is the word “amen”. This means “so be it”. Every time you say “amen” at the end of your prayers you are saying “so be it”. So, mean what you say because you are literally asking God to let things be done that you have prayed for. “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” (Ecclesiastes 3:12)


The Serenity prayer is a wonderful prayer and there is much wisdom to be had from it. Please feel free to let us know things you have learned from it in the comments below. God bless you as you live a life worthy of the calling!

Serenity is a calm/peaceful state. Take a look at this article on peace:

Sandals of Peace

Resources –  The Holy Bible, English Standard Version “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. YouTube video “Prayer for Serenity” performed by Marisa.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

janicedoner June 21, 2013 at 8:23 am



Derek Hill June 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm

You are most welcome, Janice! All glory to God, though. I would not be able to write if not for the Holy Spirit guiding me. God bless you!


janicedoner June 22, 2013 at 11:00 pm

God Bless you and keep listening to HIM


rebecca June 21, 2013 at 8:31 am

This article was a direct answer to my prayer this morning and will be the focus of my devotions for days to come!


Derek Hill June 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm

That is wonderful, Rebecca! Answered prayers that give you hope and joy are always awesome! Praise the Lord! God bless you!


Jack Wellman June 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Superbly done Derek. I didn’t really think about lessons from this and you have gleaned from it the principles that I had not yet seen. Thank you brother. Well done as always.


Derek Hill June 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Thanks Jack! I learned myself as I was writing this. God always teaches me while I write! Blessings brother!


Patricia Schneider June 22, 2013 at 2:14 am

WOW, Derek! Thoroughly enjoyed this article with Scripture! You believe I never knew there was more to The Serenity Prayer than the first part? (I’m aware the first part is used in Alcoholic Anonymous’ meetings.) Copied it down & will print up 2 copies, one for hubby Gary, one for myself. Thank you, Derek, for another wonderful article! Jesus’ Holy Spirit is sooo evident in you!
Hope you and your children are enjoying these Spring days, oh wait, yesterday was considered the 1st. day of Summer! (Not by the temperatures we’re having in the evenings here in Pittsburgh, PA. LOL! Crazy weather all over the nation this year, huh?)
You and your children are daily in my prayers, Derek.
Oodles of God’s bountiful blessings to you and the kids, Derek!
Always, your sister in Christ, Jesus….Patty


Derek Hill June 22, 2013 at 10:08 am

Thank you so much Patty! You are one of the most enthusiastic and encouraging people I know! I’m overjoyed right now! Thank you for your prayers! And, yes, the weather has been quite crazy this year. Blessings to you and Gary!


Linda Antwi June 22, 2013 at 5:56 am

im really touched….God bless you


Derek Hill June 22, 2013 at 11:16 am

Thank you Linda! God bless you too! May you have a wonderful day praising our Lord!


Jackie June 23, 2013 at 5:17 am

Thank you very much for this special contribution on this website. This article is a testimony that you are a messenger from God, because my father first referred the Serenity prayer to me in ths seventies. Thank you for reminding me of great memories. God bless you as a child of His. You are special.


Derek Hill June 23, 2013 at 9:03 am

I am blessed by your comment Jackie! Thank you for it! I am so glad you took a wonderful trip down memory lane 🙂 God bless you as His child as well!


Sharms June 26, 2013 at 10:54 am

Thank you Derek! I too have said this prayer all my life. And today have a greater understanding. Especially for the “Accept the things you cannot change”… I am a fixer by nature and through hardships have been battling with surrendering it all to God. This prayer has so grounded me and allowed me to release it all to God. “Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

God Bless you!


Derek Hill June 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Thank you Sharms! I think we all struggle with the “control” side of our lives. The issue of “control” started in the Garden of Eden and hasn’t stopped since. You are completely correct though! We need to release everything to God and trust that He knows what is best for us! God bless you too!!


Messenger June 26, 2013 at 5:52 pm

God bless!


Messenger June 26, 2013 at 5:50 pm

God bless you!


Derek Hill June 26, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Thank you and God bless you too, Messenger!


Crystal McDowell June 26, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Thanks Derek this was just what I needed to meditate on today. God bless you.



Derek Hill June 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Thank you Crystal. God bless you too!


person June 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

You write so well Derek, the Holy Spirit was truly speaks through you. Phillipians is such a wonderful book. I went back and read all of chapter 4. Man is it packed with wisdom.
” Whatever it is that we can’t change we must be content and know that God has it under control” -amen, I need to remember this everyday. He is in control.
“It’s human nature to think ahead and plan, but what about right now? What about this very second in time? Cherish the present or you will moss out on life. -another Amen, I need to be reminded of this especially with my children. This moment will be gone. Cherish it.
“There is no peace like the peace that passes all understanding.”

Great atricle. Lots to think about today.


Derek Hill June 27, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words, person! They mean a lot. I agree with you, especially with the children. They grow up so fast and then they will be on their own. Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Cinderella” is a wonderful song about this that always brings tears to my eyes. God bless you!


Jenny June 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I did not know more than than the first few lines of this prayer so I am thrilled to now know and understand it fully ! Thank u for sharing your faith and knowledge


Derek Hill June 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Hello Jenny! All glory to God! For He leads me in all of the things I write. Blessings on you and thank you for your kind words!


Keith August 23, 2014 at 11:43 pm

Thanks for breaking this prayer down with scipture reference. I am stuggling with a lot right now and know this prayer from AA, but it means more to me know. I am working with my church group as well to fully give myself to the LORD. Thanks


Virginia Robinson November 29, 2014 at 11:34 am

What about the tremendous advocacy today for journaling–recording in diaries? Do you feel that one can effectively be in the moment and cherish the present moments if he/she spends time recording (obviously with the intent of taking time from the future/present to read about the past)? This is not rhetorical, I think it has pros and cons and is worth discussing.


Jack Wellman December 2, 2014 at 11:17 am

Thanks Mrs. Robinson. In my prayer journal, I can look back and see just how faithful God is, has been, and will be in the future so a journal can give us more confidence in God’s working out all things for the good so I see the past, present, and future benefits of a journaling in diaries. Does this make sense?


Helen Ortiz December 14, 2014 at 5:14 am

This prayer has a whole new meaning for me because i read thru the meaning of it. It comes at a time in my life where i feel sadness, and confusion. But I realize that I cannot change the situation and that I have to trust and leave it in God’s hand. i cannot try to fix things on my own that only God can take of.

Thanks for this wonderful opportunity.


Manny December 23, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Thank you for this article

I am struggling going through many hardships. I used to be an active christian and strayed very far away 14 years ago. I havent prayed, or picked up the bible because i feel a hypocrite with my double life

When i read this i feel touched deeply that there is hope. Hope for me to realize i can move forward with each passing day no matter what ive done in my past.

Thank you


Nikki April 27, 2016 at 4:41 pm

I’m dealing with a lot right now. I lost a close relative to me and I’m so upset. Don’t know whether I’m mad with God or him and I have done so sinful things in my marriage. I’m trying to get it together but its hard. I know Jesus is the only one that can heal me but don’t know how to ask Him for forgiveness.


Mike H. May 10, 2016 at 9:58 pm

I think the prayer itself is really focused on acceptance. After all, there isn’t any serenity without first having acceptance.
Accepting the things I cannot change is not something I am able to pull out of myself. Courage and certainly wisdom can also be seen in this same light. Yet it’s acceptance that leads directly to peace. What we resist persists. Acceptance doesn’t resist, wrestle, regret, deny, or excuse. It merely accepts what is just as it is without trying to change it. But for those things we can’t accept the source for peace of mind is found in God alone. Acceptance can also mean that we’re now trusting God with the matter. And even if the circumstance or situation itself can’t be changed, the meaning of it often can be.
Acceptance is not an impossible demand we make on ourselves since it turns out we don’t have the means to produce it anyway. Acceptance is a free gift from God.
We only have to ask Him for it.


Ahmari May 31, 2016 at 5:52 pm

This is what I needed. Thank you to the author.


Gerilyn Cramer November 2, 2016 at 9:30 pm



Arlene Wilder January 5, 2017 at 10:23 am

This is awesome! I think it helps to understand what you are reading and makes it more memorable when it’s broken down like this. Thank you


Jason Jones November 11, 2017 at 10:36 am

Derek thank you for this! I am currently going through a very difficult time in my life and needed some direction. Your article is exactly what God needed me to read in this present moment. Thank you for responding to God’s call to provide such depth and clarity!


Korey samuels January 13, 2019 at 11:35 am

This is an amazing prayer perfect as a daily devotional for me in the new of 2019, blessing to you mighty son of god❤️❤️❤️❤️


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