Serenity Prayer

The Philosophy, sociology, and psychology of disability.
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Serenity Prayer

Post by Barry » 2 years ago

The Serenity Prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr* was used from about 1934 (Serenity Prayer - God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot ( Although written in the style of a prayer, I do not think it's relevance is confined to believers. The first few lines in particular, can, with some adaptation, apply to many situations:

'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.'

I have found it offers me a useful form of psychological counselling, a useful continuation of that I was offered soon after my life - physical and mental - was ruined by a spinal injury.

Posts from distressed readers about unrequited relationships are, sadly, all-too-common; posts from members searching for what they regard as an ideal but where imagination has slipped over the boundary into fantasy: some appear to have lost the serenity to accept the things they cannot change.

Whilst imagination can be a powerful addition to the five senses - sight, touch, smell, taste and sound - in achieving stimulation, fantasy is unlikely to be achievable. Some posts reflect a search for an ideal partner. They fantasise about partners they are not likely to find and appear to reject what is achievable.

Is fantasy always something to be avoided? I believe that in some situations, it is likely to cause distress if we expect it to happen: if we keep our feet on the ground and remember this, perhaps it is harmless imagination rather than fantasy. There are other situations where fantasy could provide harmless consolation - terminal illness or bereavement for example. In drawing this distinction between imagination and fantasy, perhaps I am searching for universal applications where none exists.

Those with chronic conditions might find the section after the opening sentence useful:

'Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; ....'.

I find it best not to think too much of the future but others might differ.

I feel sure that the Serenity Prayer will offer guidance to some readers but I am unclear about how many. Do other readers have any observations to offer?

*Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971), American Reformed theologian, was a professor at Union Theological Seminary. He wrote and spoke frequently about the influences between religion, politics, and public policy, and has been influential on many US politicians.

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Post by daniel » 2 years ago

I myself feel that the Serenity Prayer puts a lot of emphases on what WE are going to do.

My prayer would simply be "God grant me the wisdom to understand that You alone are sovereign." I then rest in the assurance of Romans 8:28 which is "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." There is an amazing amount of depth in that one verse and it just blows my mind.

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