The Serenity Prayer

Winnifred Crane Wygal, a pupil and collaborator of Reinhold Niebuhr, quoted what would later become known as the Serenity Prayer in a diary entry from 1932, attributing it to Niebuhr. This is the earliest recorded reference to the prayer in its modern form.

The best–known version of the 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."

The original version was "Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other."

Wikipedia notes that the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus (c. 50–135 AD) wrote "Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us".

A member of Alcoholics Anonymous brought the prayer to the attention of the organisation in 1941. Co–founder William Wilson had it printed and handed round. "Never" he wrote, "had we seen so much AA in so few words".

Niebuhr gave no title to the prayer, but Alcoholics Anonymous has referred to it as the Serenity Prayer since at least 1955.

© Haydn Thompson 2021