Prayers that Changed the World: The “Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Niehbur

 By. Lemuel Sandoval

Reinhold Niehbur was an American pastor who lived between 1892 and 1971. His Christian convictions led him to participate in sociology and politics. His influence was so widespread that he is considered one of America’s greatest political philosophers both inside and outside the church.[1]

Yet, perhaps the best-known contribution of his around the world is a small sentence that Reinhold wrote between 1932 and 1933: [2]

 “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.”

 On another occasion, Niebuhr extended the sentence, changing the order of the first few lines:

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

And the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time

Accepting hardship as a path 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.


If you paid attention to the second part, the phrase “one day at a time” probably rings a bell. It is one of the mottos of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups. Actually, Reinhold’s prayer is used by these groups to ask for God’s help in the midst of temptations. The most popular form of the Serenity Prayer, as it is known, is as follows:

“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.”

From its inclusion in 1941 in the AA and other similar groups until today, many people have prayed the Serenity Prayer. People struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, eating disorders, workaholism, and other types of addictions have found that God can transform their lives. In fact, anyone who feels oppressed or enslaved by the circumstances of life finds calm and serenity in this prayer. In the things we cannot change, God gives us serenity and peace to hope in Him. In what we can change, God gives us the courage to continue striving.

How has this prayer changed the world?

One person at a time,

One day at a time.

[1] Britannica, Reinhold Niehbur, (6 de junio de 2022)

[2] Shapiro, Fred R. (2014) Who wrote the serenity prayer? The Chronicle Review (

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