For the past two and half years I have participated in a clergy spirituality group. The six of us meet each Thursday morning for conversation and prayer. We started out with an adaptation of the The Twelve Steps used by Alcoholic Anonymous and other recovery groups.
Our first book was a kind of spiritual workbook titled: The Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey, A Working Guide for Healing Based on Biblical Teachings by RPI Publishing, 2012. Though we have moved on in our reading to other books (that I might highlight in other blogs), we continue to use some parts of the The Twelve Steps. The book included questions for personal reflection based on the 12 steps and a format to guide our group conversation. It was a helpful book to start our group. What I appreciated was that we ended each meeting praying together the full Serenity Prayer:
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 different.
Living one day at a time
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardship as the pathway 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. Amen
This prayer is attributed to the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, though he was taping into older Christian and other wisdom traditions that shaped this prayer. As the above Wikipedia link shows, the prayer had oral roots back to the early 1930’s, but was not formally published until that 1940’s.
The prayer strikes a deep resonates in me, especially as we use it in our group. We pray the Lord’s Prayer to open the meeting (often with a few minutes of silent meditation) to bring focus. The Serenity Prayer has become a kind of ritual and blessing that brings closure and hope as our group concludes its meeting. I find great comfort in such simple rituals.
Lately I have been feeling tugged to explore the spiritual depth of this prayer. I plan to write reflections on the Prayer and what certain words or phrases mean for me. I admit that this will be highly individualistic; not everyone will agree with my insights. Yet hopefully it will spark your desire to pray this prayer or other prayer as part of your life in Christ.
What written prayers are shaping your spiritual life?
Christ Jesus, grant me the courage to pray with hope and utter trust in you.