Are You Using the Serenity Prayer As a Cop Out?

serenity prayer

Dear God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change….

But what are those things? How do I know if I’m copping out or if something is truly beyond change?
Am I supposed to give up my resistance believing that all things happen just as they should?
Is accepting things as they are the way to overcome?
Where is the balance?

The Serenity Prayer was written by Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the leading theologians in history. I’m not familiar with any of his work, but I found out that he was born in 1892 and he lived and worked in Detroit during the same time my immigrant grandparents lived there. Reinhold was both a realist and an activist, speaking out against the Klu Klux Klan, racism, and standing against the unfair work conditions in the emerging Detroit automotive industry. He was a man before his time. He shook things up and didn’t care who disagreed.

He was tireless in his efforts to provoke change yet at the same time he obviously asked for God’s wisdom to fully understand the things beyond his power to change….because, you know…he wrote the serenity prayer.

I recently heard a prophet who was speaking at Oceans United Christian Church in Vero Beach, Florida (a super cool place). He said, “Prophets come to bring a contrary message. They don’t come to agree. People are going one way, and it’s not the right way, and the prophet comes to introduce change.”

What Are You Doing With the Serenity Prayer?

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.

I think a lot of us hang our hat on that second line, falsely believing that full acceptance and zero resistance for what comes our way is part of the natural ebb and flow of life.
There probably isn’t a worse delusion than this. It is like a cancer, this complacency that seeps into my daily life.

In all reality, there is very little we cannot change.
In fact, God has laid out the limitations in His Word, and the deeper I dig, the fewer there actually are.

Here are some of the mind blowing things God says about our ability to change our current situation:

    1. Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. —Mark 11:23


    1. Ask Me for ANYTHING in my name, and I will do it. —John 14:14


    1. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. —Matthew 10:7-8


  1. And whatever you put your hand to will prosper. —Deuteronomy 28:8

Those are just a few glimpses of the life available to us.
So, where is it?

Where is this life where we are healing the sick and raising the dead?
I have discovered in my own life, that God really loves it when I step out in faith and refuse to rely on anything but Him for the situations I face.

He promises He will never leave us, never forsake us, and never let us down…and I believe He does not want us to settle for less. He doesn’t play small.

He’s God.

So, in my own life, I have to be careful and ask Him…Where am I playing small? Where am I settling for less than an ALL THE WAY, outlandishly limitless life?

Where am I saying, this is all there is; this is something I cannot change?
And maybe the real truth is that I am comfortable in my complacency and I really don’t want it to change.

God Grant Me The Serenity

I honestly believe there are very few things that I cannot change.
Maybe the hardest to imagine would be another person’s free will.
Like, let’s say someone I love is using drugs and killing himself.
I might say to myself, “Well, here it is. Here is where I need serenity to accept this thing I cannot change.”

But I don’t think so.
I think I am called to heal the sick.
The addicted are sick.

Maybe they don’t directly want healing and maybe they aren’t ready to listen to me.
That’s okay.
I can pray for them.
I can say, “God, I believe You said in your Word that I am called to heal the sick and to set the captives free…Actually God, here’s where it says it….Right here in Luke 4:18. It says this, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for those in bondage, recovery of sight to the blind, and to set the oppressed free.”
It actually doesn’t say, “If they want it. If they’re ready or if they hit their bottom….so give me a way, Lord. Show me how to be a person who sets people free. Show me how to love them more. Anoint me to do the things I don’t know how to do.

If I need serenity to accept the unchangeable, that’s fine, Lord….then give it to me. But I believe that while we are still breathing, anything that is out of order, stuck, sick, or broken is definitely able to be restored.”

My name is Robin Bright…and I’m not raising the dead yet, but I am looking forward to that day.


About Robin Bright

Hi. My name is Robin Bright. I'm a mom, author, part of The John Maxwell Team and a recovery advocate who struggled with the torment of addiction for over a decade. I still remember what it was like. I know the desperation and hollowness of addiction. The stories here are about our journey to the light. They are raw, authentic, vulnerable. We talk about getting free, staying free, and loving ourselves through the process. I used to believe I had become the worst version of myself. And then God introduced me to me —as only He can. It is my hope that you will use the resources found here to uncover your own true identity...the vision God had when He formed you. xo

1 Comment

  1. Mike Barritt

    Never been addicted but dabbled close enough to that line to count among my loved ones those who recited the so called serenity prayer at least daily and some incessantly like some mantric babble magic in cantation that supposedly kept them free. But I still recognize it as themost stupendous copout that it has become for many. It takes faith and courage to change EVERYTHING. and you can thank God that the more faith and courage you use the more He gives you in return. Forget serene count on being UN comfortable in your struggle pray for true faith to overcome each obstacle as it comes no more of that theosophic bullcrap. Give in to the true Lord your God. You will never attain christhood, so stop acting like you will. You need all the help you can get. Give in let God guide you for a change

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