If we turn the Serenity Prayer into something that’s not a prayer, it might go like this:
I need more serenity so I can accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And I ought to be wise enough to know the difference.
Yikes — that’s not very comforting.
With or without addressing God, the usual version is a lot better:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
“Grant me” removes any sense of pressure, entitlement, guilt over failing, impatience to have it now, expectation that we should keep getting better at it. It opens us to what religious people call grace. Because the fact is, we can’t control whether we have serenity or not, but when we make clear to ourselves in a gentle, non-demanding way that we want serenity, courage and wisdom, they seem more likely to mysteriously appear.