Early in 1942, writes Bill W., in A.A. Comes of Age, a New York member, Jack, brought to everyone’s attention a caption in a routine New York Herald Tribune obituary that read:
“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Everyone in A.A.’s burgeoning office on Manhattan’s Vesey Street was struck by the power and wisdom contained in the prayer’s thoughts. “Never had we seen so much A.A. in so few words,” Bill writes. Someone suggested that the prayer be printed on a small, wallet-sized card, to be included in every piece of outgoing mail.
“With amazing speed,” writes Bill, “the Serenity Prayer came into general use and took its place alongside our two other favorites, the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of St. Francis.”
Thus did the “accidental” noticing of an unattributed prayer, printed alongside a simple obituary of an unknown individual, open the way toward the prayer’s daily use by thousands upon thousands of A.A.s worldwide.
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.