What’s So Good About The Serenity Prayer Anyway?

I first heard the serenity prayer in Atlanta at some meeting for those of us trying to quit addictions. I was 20 and about to be 21 in four days when I would finally be of legal age to drink but my timing was off because I was about to spend the next few years totally sober. Something about the serenity prayer appealed to me even though God had never been my priority in any religious way. I was more open ended spiritually, I did ask for help on a beach in Panama City while tripping pretty hard on mushrooms or acid, watching the waves make faces on the shore. I realized I had spent the better part of my days and nights wasted and new that there had to be something more than that that life had to offer. I could sense an exceptional gift underneath this gerbil wheel from physic and spiritual pain I was in and I remembered that prayer when I made it to that meeting and wondered if the help I was seeking was given to me for the price of asking. I suppose it was.

But beyond the spiritual what I like about the serenity prayer is the pragmatism of it, it does ask for God to grant us the serenity but then it states a request that also just makes psychological sense even for the non believer

“To accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference”

You don’t have to believe in God for that to make all the sense in the world.

In the following piece

I say you

But when I say “you”

I mean me

I mean we

I mean us all.

Prayer and The Serenity Prayer

Prayer is a power

Prayer is a division bell

Prayer is a unifier

Prayer is a challenge

And prayer is a relief

Like passing a note in the schoolhouse of life to the supernatural

Prayer can clarify the stumbling blocks

And is like the general in the army you’ve assembled to help realize your dreams

Of course bringing prayer into the equation

Invites the controversy of God

And religion

And the endlessly complicated ways people feel around those subjects

Outside of politics they are the touchiest subjects

Because they dance around questions about the states of our souls

And make us grapple with the idea of eternity

When perhaps we’d rather think about what we are having for breakfast

Or which football teams are playing each other this Sunday

But the experience of being a human

Is multifaceted

We are flesh and blood and spirit

And so the spiritual side of the equation

Must be dealt with

In a story of what are potential is to reinvent

What it is possible for us to achieve

And overcoming old limitations and obstacles

I suppose it’s a stretch to say you can utilize prayer even if you’re not a believer

But I do think there is a prayer that works and is very helpful even if you can’t readily access consciously a relationship with God

Per say

I will address believers in a bit

But for now let’s talk to the nonbelievers

And how prayer can still be a giant tool in the toolbox of your dreams

In 12 step land

They are quick to say that God can simply be god of your own understanding

God as you define him

They will say a lightbulb can be God

Or the group consciousness can act as a proxy

I believe that that philosophy is more of an attempt to onboard people who are not used to accessing an active relationship

With spirit

With the higher self

With the witness that has been with them since their lives began

Somebody who operates their world strictly from the egoic mind

That there is another power that they have access too

And however you define it

Isn’t as important as beginning to relate to it

So if it’s easier to imagine it being a lightbulb

Than a loving and personal Heavenly Father than so be it

The point is that it’s not only you and your thoughts that need to solve every issue in your world

There is another realm we dance with that contains great mystery and power

I think the serenity prayer is perfect for people of this nature

“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”

I think in its purest form it starts out addressing God

God grant me the serenity

But if that’s a stretch for you

You can I believe leave the nature of who or what you are appealing for help from vague

And just say grant me the serenity

The only stipulation is you do have to believe there are higher forces operating than just you.

(Or you don’t have to I suppose, at least in the case of the bullet proof serenity prayer, because it also just acts as a sturdy and logical psychological reminder of sanity)

What or who those higher forces are don’t need to be strictly defined as such.

As the 12 step state it can be group consciousness

Or a lightbulb

Just so long as you acknowledge that there is a power outside of yourself.

You don’t have to call it God if that’s an issue for you.


Is the target

And world full of past failures

That may be creeping up behind you

As you reevaluate your life

And try to make it better than it’s been

Regret is like a gang of street hoodlums

Ready to mug you on your way back home

Regrets will gang up

And when energy and motivation to overcome past limitations


That’s when the regrets come out of the woodwork

You don’t have to believe in the Bible to see that you are dealing with principalities in the realm of the spirit world

Those principalities show up as memories and regrets

And they threaten deeply your movements towards progress

Progress enrages them

So the serenity prayer acts as a kind of magical sword against them

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Accept what has happened

And accept where you are

Accept who you are

And accept where you want to go

The first part of this prayer acts like punch in the face to regret

And acts as a building block to a new beginning

Accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

It takes courage to stay in this battle

It take an acknowledgment that you are trying now

Trying again

And so therefore making you vulnerable to failure

Though without trying failure is certain

But for many that’s easier to accept and be weathered by the ego

To simply lean on nihilism

But to believe and move forward with new energy and will

Means that you could fail

And have to sit in room acknowledging your short comings

So it takes courage to do that

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

The wisdom to not take up mental real estate

With the things you cannot do anything about

To not allow worry to fragment your internal hard drive

But instead focus the power of your mind towards the things you have the power to change


And discipline

And perseverance

Things that will take the full capacity of your will

To confront and alter

And the very things the principalities of darkness will move to destroy

Through the fragmentation

Of worry and regret

This prayer

Whether you acknowledge God or not

Can be a powerful reminder

To keep your headspace clear and in the right direction.

Prayer for people who do believe

Is an even greater weapon against failure

For the believers

They set up a partnership with God

And check in daily and through out the day

When the demons hit

You revert back to that space of communion

And ask for guidance and help

And guidance and help will indeed come

You are not alone here in this journey

And the more you are aware of this

And more you practice awareness of this

The more the impossible becomes possible

Because along side your hard work

And discipline

The magical element of grace will arrive to carry you to places you couldn’t otherwise make it too

The winds of God’s favor

The winds of grace

These are things you can readily ask for

And even expect

Though they don’t come on your timeline or how you expect them but they do indeed come.

Likewise when you recognize frustration building up

And depression

And the toxicity of regret

You get in the habit of directly addressing those things in your prayer world

And asking for help all along the way

You have a collaborator

A protector

A support system that will never fail you

Even in the whirlwind of unanswered prayers

You have faith

Faith that there is a plan beyond your own

And so you easily see how the humiliation of failure

Becomes a bastion of purity

The flames you walk through

Stripping away your false ideas and ideals

And shaping internal vision

To one that aligns with a higher authority

Framed this way ultimate failure becomes impossible

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

Help me maintain faith

And see as you see

What I need to do here

Help me to persevere

And guide me so that actions are not wasted

And so that they may align with yours

Towards the greater good for all.

And help me have faith that everything is as it should be.

You are not alone in this pursuit

And to the degree that you pray and ask for help correlates directly with how much help you get.

You shouldn’t simply hold onto a vision of what you want your life to be

And wait for the gifts of that dream to magically fall from the sky

But you should hold that vision

And ask for help to put yourself into a state of massive action towards that dream becoming real

You are partners with the most high

Even if for now

The most high is just a lightbulb.

I still think of that room in Atlanta where I found sobriety for the first time

Amongst a crowd of characters which I finally felt like I fit in with.

The freaks

The geeks

The outlaws

The ones who in previous incarnations

Might have assumed they were born to lose

In those days we could smoke inside

And drink scandalous amounts of coffee

And what we had was a fellowship of people sharing their experience strength and hope

Under what I see now as God’s watchful eye.

It’s where I learned perhaps the biggest lesson of what it means to be “spiritual”

Sharing the fact that this life is a struggle for us all

And often a struggle we can’t seem to overcome using our own strength

The good news is

You don’t have too.