The serenity prayer has a special place for many people, aside from its actual or little meaning, it has become something of a mantra for members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step fellowships.

The wording and dating of the serenity prayer goes back far beyond the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous, and it is a prayer in wide usage in much of the world. However it is commonly associated with the work of recovery from alcoholism and other addictions, and is often used as a form of shorthand for summarizing much of the work of a therapeutic nature that needs to be done to help people stay sober.

What is known as the short form of the serenity prayer was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous fairly soon after it started as a movement, and has subsequently been adopted by many other 12 step fellowships. As a prayer, it has a fairly unique advantage in that it is very short, but contains a huge amount of value in perhaps two or three of its most basic concepts.

Whilst these may be associated with organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, the value of the prayer is huge in terms of its meaning to anyone who finds it of value.
Any prayer, and any mention of the word God is going to raise different issues with different people, and it is not perhaps of much value to go into those here.

The meaning of the prayer, aside from the actual wording is perhaps more important. The intent of any prayer is for the benefit of the person who is saying it not for any deity or God they might be praying to or for.

The wording of the short form of the prayer as used in Alcoholics Anonymous reads " 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". People often say this prayer over and over as a form of subduing some degree of emotional turbulence that may be occurring within them. That works fine and should always be encouraged.

There is a meaning to the prayer that goes beyond its value as a form of a mantra or subduing unwanted emotions. It is essentially making a point for people to recognize what they are in control of and what they are not in control of in their life. Once they are able to recognize what they do and do not have control over then they can let go of the things they do not have control of, and focus on the things that are in their control.

That may sound a bit obdurate, but is one of the most fundamental lessons in life in order to be free and happy. Recognizing that certain things are outside of your control means you do not focus your energies on trying to control the uncontrollable. Recognizing that there are things that are within your control, mainly things inside of you and what these generate, allows you to focus your energies on these and enjoy a real sense of power over your own life.

Mentally and emotionally questioning what you are and are not in control of in your life, will give you a real sense of ownership of what is happening to you and what the causes are or are not. Knowing whether the causes are within you or outside of you is hugely important, as it allows you to focus your energies on things that you have some measure of control of.

The serenity prayer, although it does not mention the word control, is essentially about that. Knowing the things that you can control, and the things that you cannot control, gives you a sense of power and focus that will be of huge importance to anyone's life.

Author's Bio: 

Peter Main is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes extensively about all areas of self growth and self development. He has a particular focus on self help issues for people who are in recovery from or who have been affected by alcoholism and other addictions.Some people begin their journey of recovery and healing in a rehab, others in a twelve step fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous, others in a religious or spiritual setting. He has worked in this field for just under thirty years and has extensive experience in many areas of different therapeutic approaches, including counselling, inner child work,meditation, spirituality, adult children work etc