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.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next. Amen
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the prayer for use in a sermon, perhaps as early as 1934. The prayer is cited both by Niebuhr and by Niebuhr's daughter, Elisabeth Sifton. Sifton thought that he had first written it in 1943; his wife wrote in an unpublished memorandum that it had been written in 1941 or 1942, adding that it may have been used in prayers as early as 1934, although it was not then in circulation. Niebuhr himself was quoted in the January, 1950 Grapevine as saying the prayer "may have been spooking around for years, even centuries, but I don't think so. I honestly do believe that I wrote it myself."
In his book Niebuhr recalls that his prayer was circulated by the Federal Council of Churches and later by the United States armed forces. Reinhold Niebuhr's versions of the prayer were always printed as a single prose sentence; printings that set out the prayer as three lines of verse modify the author's original version.
An approximate version (apparently quoted from memory) appears in the "Queries and Answers" column in The New York Times Book Review, July 2, 1950, p. 23, which asks for the author of the quotation; and a reply in the same column in the issue for August 13, 1950, p. 19, where the quotation is attributed to Niebuhr and an unidentified printed text is quoted as follows:
O God and Heavenly Father,
Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.