Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom: The Continuing Legacy of Reinhold Niebuhr

Hendrickson Publishers Blog

By Patricia Anders, Editorial Director, Hendrickson Publishers

“O God, give us serenity to accept what cannot be changed, courage to change what should be changed, and wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”
—Reinhold Niebuhr

This famous prayer, known as the Serenity Prayer, was jotted down on a piece of paper in 1934 by Reinhold Niebuhr for a sermon he gave at a small church in Massachusetts. Present at this service was his next-door neighbor, Howard Chandler Robbins, dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. When Robbins asked for a copy, Niebuhr handed him the paper and said, “Here, take the prayer. I have no further use for it.” This prayer would go on to impact the lives of countless millions, including military chaplains on the battlefield during World War II and members of the international organization Alcoholics Anonymous, who still use…

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