“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
“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 just for today.” The Serenity Prayer
This prayer is a simple one to pray on a daily basis to challenge our thought processes and focus on our role for the day. It sets up realistic goals and expectations that we can actually accomplish in our lives and the lives of others.
I don’t know about you, but I am often finding myself making a “to do” list so that I don’t forget my agenda for the day, the errands I need to run, or the tasks I need to accomplish. This prayer is challenging us to make a spiritual “to do” list, noting the permission God gives to let go of the things we cannot control and accept the things that we are truly responsible for.
When we pray this prayer, or any standard prayer, we are able to use the written words as a format or outline to help us communicate to God about our struggles and ask for His help. We can add our own thoughts and feelings to the prayer, and we can take from it whatever we need. We can insert areas that we need help accepting, letting go, or changing.
By praying the Serenity Prayer, we are asking for peace inside as we admit the areas of our lives that we cannot change or do anything about. Many times, I try to change people by the way that I act or by manipulating outcomes in my relationships with them. This prayer challenges me to take myself out of the “manager” role or the peacemaker role, accepting the fact that certain issues belong to other people, and it is not my job to fix it for them.
It also challenges me to look at myself and admit the areas that I need to take responsibility for and, making those changes for myself and those around me. It is also important, when praying, to admit that I am human, and I make mistakes.
As I pray for wisdom, I am asking that God give me the ability to tell the difference between what I need to do for myself and others, and what I need to let others do for themselves and for me. As Christians, we need God’s wisdom and guidance. We need Him to lead the game of life for us – here, we find the balance we need to be our true selves, showing how God is at work in our lives and hearts.
Take away: Pray a simple prayer each morning or evening, allowing yourself the time and energy to refocus on what you can actually do and release that which you can do nothing about. This starts a pathway to freedom that God promises each of us and a pathway to finding the balance between taking care of ourselves and giving to others.