Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.
Frank Borman, member of the first crew to successfully orbit the Moon and return to Earth.
American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the famous Serenity Prayer in 1932-33. People immediately loved it. Niebuhr used it in at least two sermons around 1943 and included in a 1951 magazine column. Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs adopted it and gave it the title “Serenity Prayer” in 1955.
The prayer for the 1930s and 1940s seems to have included its initial … and most famous … verses. The request for “courage” did come before the request for “serenity” in the early versions.
By 1951, the prayer had two verses, which are both beautiful to pray:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Take some time today to sit with this prayer as we seek wisdom in the pandemic.
The breath prayer is a common practice in Christian mindfulness or contemplation. A variation that helps during a pandemic or just daily life is to ask for the grace, knowledge or virtue you need at this moment in the prayer.
When you feel frightened, overwhelmed or unsure, sit or stand quietly for a few seconds. Then start your breath prayer. “Come, Lord Jesus” or “Come, Holy Spirit” work well if you want to create a prayer.
Inhale saying your breath prayer. Then exhale naming what you need, such as:
Come, Lord Jesus. Bring me patience.
Come, Holy Spirit. Grant me the wisdom to deal with this.
Come, Lord Jesus. Let me feel your peace.
Come, Holy Spirit. Speak through me.
Quite a few of us are praying about COVID-19. I have a long list of people, groups, causes and places I love, which I pray for every day. The Lord has recently been prompting me to find a quieter way to pray inside His will.
Instead of having a long list of what I think SHOULD happen, I am just lifting up the individuals and the groups to God for His will to be done. I am no longer Mrs. God, handing the Lord his honey-do list.
After all, as Psalm 139:4 says, “Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, Oh Lord.”
God knows what we need. The purpose of prayer is to help us grow closer to God and to understanding His will. Just lifting up a person or a cause before the Lord and asking that His will be done is enough.