Living One Day at a Time, Enjoying One Moment at a Time

by Barry Howard

“The Prayer of Serenity” is one of the most well-known prayers in the world.  Widely published and often quoted, the prayer frequently appears on postcards, refrigerator magnets, keychains, and artwork.   What you may not know is that “The Prayer of Serenity” is an excerpt of a larger prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr which is entitled “Justice and Mercy.” This powerful prayer is a prayer of serenity and surrender, a prayer for justice and joy.

Niebuhr’s “Justice and Mercy” inspires and encourages individuals in all kinds of circumstances.  This poetic prayer is frequently prayed by people of faith, quoted by those in recovery groups, cited by popular authors, and recited by those serving in the military. This prayer is appropriate for all seasons but it is especially appropriate for those encountering difficult challenges and those in need of a new beginning:

          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.

There’s an old gospel song that says, “One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking from you. Just give me the strength to do every day what I have to do.”

When you find yourself at a major intersection in life, remember to approach life one day at a time, one step at a time, and trust that the Lord will guide you along the way.  And keep cultivating both courage and wisdom for the living of these days, regardless of the challenges they bring.

(Barry Howard serves as the senior minister at the First Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida.)