Irish Serenity Prayer: Part 1 Battle for Liberty

St. Kevin's Church in Glendalough, Ireland

When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did. ~AA p 52

A typical alcoholic is going to want to rail against giving up anything to anyone, God included. In fact, that’s why there’s a whole chapter of the AA book addressed to agnostics. How hard it is for most alcoholics to learn humility. The basic art of humility is acknowledging that we are not bigger than God. No amount of self-will can solve our problems. God waits for us to realize this.

Irish Serenity Prayer


God take and receive my liberty,

my memory, my understanding and will,
All that I am and have He has given me

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 in the next. AMEN

To read about the Serenity prayer and its use in AA go to the AA History link. Since 1942 the Serenity Prayer has been used widely used in AA alongside the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of St Francis. Look at the first line: God take and receive my liberty.

As a child it was obvious to me that God loved me and surely if He would listen to my problems at night and my playtime ramblings by day, then I could willingly subject all I did to His control. The pay-off was great! I could pray to Him anytime and instantly felt His presence. Having talked to Him a lot, trusting Him with my life was a natural result of experiencing who He is. Giving my liberty or independence to Him came easily because of the love I experienced in my early years. I was so grateful for all that He had given me.

That was the happy part of giving up my liberty and an entirely appropriate one.

Unfortunately, I was naïve as a child and part of that naivety included my willingness to trust everyone. It took many years for me to realize how careful I should be about who gets to take bits of my liberty. Like most lessons in life, I learned this the hard way. It didn’t occur to me that if I gave away the small bits of my liberties, eventually more and more would be taken until I had nothing that was left of the unique me.

Having been involved in abusive relationships, I have vowed that no one except God gets my liberty ever again. Indeed, all that I am and have He has given me. All that I will be or will have is from his loving hand.

The rest of this series is devoted to the Irish Serenity Prayer and dedicated to the men and women of Al-Anon and Nar-Anon in their journey toward wholeness.