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The AA Prayer (Serenity Prayer) Explained

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Each AA meeting is usually closed with a prayer or meditation, commonly known as “the AA prayer” and the “Serenity Prayer.” While the prayer has strong religious overtones, a person does not need to be religious to find it meaningful or helpful. Members who are religious may use this AA prayer in the framework of their religion, while others may think of it as a meditation on their higher power. A higher power need not be religious; it can be anything that a person thinks of as bigger and stronger than themselves, including the fellowship of the group.

Let’s review the Serenity Prayer, its history, its relationship to substance use, and how to best use it to facilitate recovery from alcohol misuse.

What is the Serenity Prayer?

The Serenity Prayer is the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) prayer recited at the end of each AA meeting. The purpose of the prayer is to serve as a daily reflection on the association between inner peace and freedom from substance use. Serenity requires acceptance on a minute-by-minute basis.

Often times, a person with substance use disorder may have a need for control that can prevent them from achieving peace of mind. They may feel frustrated that they cannot control the actions of other people and turn to substances like alcohol to control their feelings, even though the control that alcohol provides is a farce. The Serenity Prayer is a gentle reminder that letting go and accepting a loss of control can help put an end to the substance abuse cycle.

The full Serenity Prayer is as follows:

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 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 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.

Sometimes the short version of the AA Prayer is used:
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.

When Should I Say the AA Prayer?

Many people find it helpful to use the Serenity Prayer, or AA prayer, as a part of their daily reflection practice. A daily reflection practice often includes reciting the AA meditation or prayer, along with reading an inspirational daily message (also referred to as a Just for Today meditation) about living in recovery. Daily reflections can be found in books, online, and through email subscriptions. Some people start their day with a daily reflection, while others choose to save their daily reflection for their evening routine.

The Serenity Prayer can also serve as meditation in moments of weakness, frustration, or fear. Reciting the AA Prayer when a person feels a lack of control can have a soothing, calming effect. There is no wrong time to say the prayer or use it as a meditation. Some people in AA recite the prayer when they are craving alcohol or feel compelled to have a drink.

Did AA Create the Serenity Prayer?

According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the group did not create the Serenity Prayer. The history of the prayer goes back for centuries, long before AA existed, and has been credited to many theologians and saints. The AA prayer was brought to Alcoholics Anonymous in 1940 by a group member who read it in an obituary in the newspaper. The group’s founder, Bill W., felt the prayer was appropriate for AA members and had the prayer printed on cards for members to use. It has now become a permanent fixture in AA literature.

Find an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting

For many people, the first step on their journey toward recovery from substance use is stepping foot in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. How can you find an AA meeting near you? Simply use the AA meeting finder and select your state, then the city nearest you. Attending a meeting for the first time can feel intimidating to some people. If you need the support of a loved one, you can attend an “open” meeting and bring them with you. All that’s needed to attend your first meeting is the desire to stop using alcohol.

Need More than AA?

If you’re wondering whether Alcoholics Anonymous will be enough or if rehab will be needed to achieve recovery, call 800-948-8417 Question iconCalls are forwarded to these paid advertisers to learn more about your options. Many people are successful with the AA model, but often people need the guidance and support of addiction professionals for successful long-term recovery.

In cases you are physically dependent on alcohol, an alcohol detox treatment center is considered the only safe way to eliminate your physical dependence from the drug, so, it’s best to speak to a treatment specialist to talk through your options.

Regardless of how much you drink, the Alcoholics Anonymous program, coupled with treatment in a rehab facility increases your chances of recovery. How can you find a rehab that will work for you? Call 800-948-8417 Question iconCalls are forwarded to these paid advertisers to learn about your alcohol rehab options.

What is AA

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an inclusive and welcoming group of people who come together to share their experiences of recovery from alcohol use and misuse. There are no fees or paperwork to fill out and the only requirement for membership in AA is the desire to stop drinking alcohol. Members have two main purposes: first to abstain from alcohol use, called “staying sober” by AA, and second, to help others in the group also abstain from alcohol use.

There are no religious affiliations and AA is not a religious organization, but members do share the idea that there is a power greater than the members as individuals, also called a higher power.

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