Serenity Prayer in AA Meeting: Purpose and History

Serenity Prayer in AA Meeting: Purpose and History

Meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous are designed to help alcoholics turn sober. However, many people look at the meeting with a skeptical eye. They consider it a cult that preaches some religious things. If that were true, then how come alcoholics turn sober? They would have turned into something religious, but not sober. 

The secret behind the “cult” thing

It may have started when people learned that members uttered some prayer at the beginning of each AA meeting

Prayer is not a religious thing, as it does not cater to a particular religion. It is simply a conversation with a Higher Power. 

Almost everybody prays. Even those who do not believe in God may have uttered a “request” to some unknown power to fulfill their wish! 

What if I do not pray? 

It’s fine. No meeting forces an attendee to pray. You can skip the step. You can simply watch in silence and let others pray. 

Purpose of prayers in meetings

First of all, AA’s Serenity Prayers are more about self-reflection than actually connecting to some God. A typical AA meeting in California begins with a Serenity Prayer. 

The purpose is to find your inner peace and gain the power to go off alcohol. It’s about going deep inside your inner self and putting faith in yourselves. 

To get inner peace, you must be humble and accepting.

Often, people with alcohol use disorder are frustrated that they cannot control their cravings. Serenity Prayer provides them the much-needed strength to fight cravings. It reminds you that, sometimes, you must let go and accept that, yes, you are not in control of your cravings. 

Once you do that, puff and the cravings vanish! 

Well, not exactly vanish, but as you continue to recite the prayers and find your inner peace and strength, the cravings lose their power over you. 

This is something that you must try and see for yourselves because simply reading here may not make you believe it. 

The short version of the Serenity Prayer

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.

(Source: AA website)

Power of the prayer

You can use the Serenity Prayer during moments of trigger or weakness when you crave a drink and find it difficult to stay sober. 

You can say this prayer anytime, anywhere. 

History of the Serenity Prayer

AA did not create this prayer. AA’s co-founder Bill found this prayer in a newspaper and thought it appropriate to use in meetings. Since then, it is a permanent feature of AA literature. 

The prayer is believed to have been created by saints and theologians centuries ago. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, do not think you would be “pushed” into some religion in a meeting. As per the 12 traditions of AA, the fellowship is simply to help fellow beings fight alcoholism and emerge sober. 

AA is no cult; AA is no religion. AA is a test of your own willpower. Let’s see how far you go in your sobriety resolve. 


Janu Abbasi is writer, editor, and devoted bookworm based in Abbottabad, Pakistan. While he currently is the Senior Editor for content marketing agency Rehan Networks, he’s been slinging copy in various forms for more than a decade.

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