A “Beef” with the Serenity Prayer

Did you know there are more than 4 lines to the Serenity Prayer?

I didn’t! I never knew there were words beyond what I quoted, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can…”

The end.    NOT!

There’s more to it:

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 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.
Amen. –Reinhold Niebuhr

Is this as much of a shocker for anyone else as it was for me?  And by shocker, I mean the way it ended. It was all good in my ears until the closing sentence,”…that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.”

 “Reasonably happy” bugged me and I had to look up the definitions for clarification:

  • Reasonably= in a fair, sensible way
  • Supremely= to the MAX degree

Although I believe God is just and “fair” in the sense of judgment, I would not describe Him as reasonably happy because He IS happiness. No one is happier than God. And accordingly to the Bible, we have God IN us. So isn’t what is His, ours?

Heaven, I hear,  (aka the “next life”) will be pretty great (supreme GREAT, as in to the MAX degree). But, we have to ask ourselves if we also believe in the power of God to redeem THIS life so completely that we can be more than just “reasonably happy.”  Here are some supporting scriptures:

John 10:10 “The thief comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

The phrase “abundantly” comes from the Greek #4053 “perissos” which the Strong’s Concordance defines as superabundant (in quantity) and superior (in quality), to be in excess, to be superfluous. “Superfluous” is defined as being beyond what is required or sufficient, more than is needed or desired; EXTRA.

Which word do you think “abundantly” sounds like? “Reasonably” or “Supremely”?

In Matthew 6:10 Jesus instructs us to pray, “…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Is Jesus instructing us to ask for heaven ON earth! Wouldn’t that imply that it is POSSIBLE to have heaven on earth? And what is so special about heaven? Experiencing God’s presence of course! So if God’s presence can be here and now on this earth to the degree Jesus himself experienced it isn’t it possible that THIS life can be supremely GREAT?!

In all seriousness, I value the Serenity Prayer for the purpose it serves: a strong reminder of where our peace comes from when in trials and turmoil. But my BEEF with the prayer is that it subtly influences us to sell ourselves and God short of what is TRULY possible and PLAUSIBLE on this earth, as we breathe and live, RIGHT NOW, by the power of His spirit!

God wants us to raise our expectations of what He is truly capable of in our lives in the PRESENT. And what is possible is His Presence on earth, in us, as it is in heaven and an abundant life overflowing SUPERFLUOSLY with His peace, saturated SUPREMLY with His grace, and utterly consumed by His love.

I pray for us to learn how to cultivate His presence discover SUPREME happiness in this life AND in the next!

 Bless you,