A Three-Word Prayer for Serenity

The graphic below shows a prayer, commonly referred to as the “Serenity Prayer,”* attributed to Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr and reportedly written in 1926. Niebuhr was a Lutheran pastor and theologian.

After knowing only the first four lines of the prayer, which I learned in 1984, it wasn’t long before I became acquainted with the entire thing. Even though at the time I hadn’t made a decision to follow Christ, the words made sense. Years after that, I was reciting the whole prayer from memory at a weekly small group.

Today, I believe the three most important words of this prayer aren’t, as some people choose to see them, acceptance, courage and wisdom. They are

“God, I surrender”

For me, surrendering to God creates a serenity and peace I can’t otherwise know.

SerenityPrayer with gull

*Usually Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer is quoted using only the first four lines shown here.

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Don’t Melt…Down

In the city where I live, there’s a busy road on which I travel often. And as I do, I nearly always catch the flashing message on a particular digital sign as I drive by. It says, “DON’T MELT… DOWN.”

The sign is for a jewelry store and I realize the rest of the message is about gold and silver jewelry and what the owners hope you’ll do with it. Nevertheless, “Don’t melt down,” is a reminder I need to hear now and then.

My lifestyle isn’t frustrated by busyness or a lot of noise. However, I’ve taken my turn at worrying. That’s when the reminder “Don’t melt down” comes in handy and my best reminders are from scripture.

Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount not to worry. He says our Father in heaven considers us more valuable than birds. Of course, Jesus is right. And why would I want to borrow trouble from tomorrow when I have today to deal with?

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Jesus originated the idea for taking life one day at a time.

For those of us who can’t slow down, Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man.” We all need to stop and take time to rest. King Solomon observed that we “stay up late, toiling for food to eat” echoing Jesus in regard to our need for rest. Apparently even in ancient times there were “workaholics” who needed a reminder to take it easy. Not doing so would even affect their sleep.

Because I can’t always stop the inner head chatter on my own, I’m glad I have God’s word to help me. I’m not always driving down that busy road with the blinking jewelry store sign to remind me.

Besides, His voice is a better reminder for me to not “melt down.”