Serenity Prayer: Break Down, Meaning and its Importance to Recovery

the serenity prayer
Serenity Prayer Full

Substance abuse is not easy to overcome in life. Studies have shown that twenty-two million people in the United States over the age of 12 suffer from all sorts of addiction. There are plenty of recovery centers across the country that help people overcome this chronic disorder. 

These centers host meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and often follow the 12-step program to help them recover from addiction. A part of the program is learning the Serenity Prayer, a two-versed meditative prayer made for recovering addicts.

What is the Serenity Prayer?

The Serenity Prayer was written to help people struggling with addiction. It sometimes helps participants acknowledge that they need help from a Higher power to get them through. Serenity prayers are created mostly for the spiritually-inclined, but they are still encouraged in people who don’t necessarily subscribe to a religion. It can be a mantra that helps them get through tougher moments in their recovery.

How can the Serenity Prayer help me Overcome Addiction?

The lines of the Serenity Prayer help recovering addicts acknowledge the problem and encourage them to ask for aid, wisdom, and strength to move forward. Having this sort of positivity can encourage anyone to resist the temptation to imbibe a substance. 

The Full 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.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship 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.

That I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.


aa sobriety coins
Serenity Prayer on AA Coins

A Breakdown of its Meaning

The First Verse

Asking for Serenity of Acceptance

Peace of mind is essential when it comes to recovery. Asking for serenity helps you accept that you have a problem that you need to fix. It is about recognizing that there are things that are beyond your control. Things like the opinions of others about you or people who won’t forgive you are something that you cannot change alone.

Asking for Courage to Change

While many things are beyond our capacity to change, there are plenty of things that we control. Taking the first step to repair broken relationships is one thing. Another is controlling the urge to reach for the bottle or pill. Asking your support system to help you through the journey is also a big task. All those things take courage.

Asking for Wisdom for Discernment

Knowing what you can and cannot control ultimately can give you serenity. If you do everything you can to recover and acknowledge that there are things you can’t control, the closer you get to finding inner peace. 

The Second Verse

Accepting the Journey

From acknowledging the existence of the problem, the next step is to go on the day-to-day journey. Every day will seem longer, and so will each hour that goes by when you resist temptation. Living each moment one at a time is all it takes. You can’t rush recovery. It is a continuous journey, and when you accept it, you have to know that there is no turning back.

Acknowledging the Struggle

The journey to sobriety is not simple. There will be struggles that revolve around your addiction. From staying away from the substance to cutting off ties to people who will impede the journey, there are plenty of obstacles you will have to overcome. Knowing that the obstacles exist and still choosing to continue making this life-changing decision shows strength and courage.  

Surrendering to God to find Happiness

The one entity that can help you more than yourself is the one who has the power to get through it. As the old saying goes, “if He can lead you to it, He can get you through it.” God can give you the strength, courage, and wisdom to go through everyday life while battling your inner demons. When you surrender yourself to the Lord, anything can be possible. 

But that doesn’t mean everything is for God to do. The prayer asks for His guidance through it all, but the work is all yours. You have to make the journey and be the person you want to be in the world.

Other Popular AA Prayers used in Meetings

There is more than one prayer for the steps to recovery. While the Serenity prayer has everything that a recovering addict needs, some prayers take on a different approach. Other AA groups in the United States also encourage patients to include other prayers such as the one below:

aa meeting topics
AA Serenity Prayer

Recovery Prayer At Night

“God forgive me where I have been resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid today. Help me to not keep anything to myself but to discuss it all openly with another person—show me where I owe an apology and help me make it. Help me to be kind and loving to all people. Use me in the mainstream of life, God. Remove worry, remorse, or morbid reflections that I may be of usefulness to others.


This AA prayer and others like it have the same message and energy as the Serenity prayer. You recognize the error of your ways and accept the challenge to change. But unlike the serenity prayer, this highlights the fact that the change you make in your life can affect other people. Recovery is a step to becoming an asset to them rather than a burden. It asks that you become a beacon of God’s light and bring purpose to your life. 

Participants in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are also encouraged to create their own versions of prayers and give them a personal touch. Including loved ones in prayer can be highly motivational and can aid in recovery.


Having your own serenity prayer can help you overcome the daily challenges in your life, whether you place your faith in a divine power or not. The fight against addiction is hard to overcome, so you need all the help you can get to keep your mind free of temptation. 

Not everyone with addiction needs religion to recover, but prayers are something anyone can do to keep their minds and demons at bay. No matter what you believe, having something simple to repeat over and over again is helpful. It keeps your mind at ease and can help you stay centered. For more ways to cope with the struggle of overcoming addiction, it is best to seek professional help and counseling from centers, whether you want a one-on-one setup or an anonymous group meeting.