The Lesser-Known Half of The Serenity Prayer

Most of us know The Serenity Prayer probably because of Acoholics Anonomys's adoption of this prayer in the 1940s. We don't hear the second half of the prayer very often though. I think it's just as beautiful and deserves inclusion always. Here's the prayer in its original entirety:

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.
Amen.

—Reinhold Niebuhr

Story behind “A Conversation With God”

On a rainy Monday morning in July of 2006, I went into Wildwood Recording, and over the course of three hours, I recorded “A Conversation With God.”

Arguably, the most important part of making an album is choosing the right songs.  For my entire life, the songs that have moved me, the songs that I could relate to, the songs that felt the most real, were the hymns I’d heard since I was born.  To me, the truths in these hymns were the richest lyrics there were, and as an added bonus, for a 25-year-old guy who had just finished paying off his college loans but still hadn’t started exactly raking in dough, songs in the public domain were really appealing — because there are no royalties to pay.  So, I went through a hymnal from cover to cover and wrote down all the public domain songs I knew pretty well.  Take all the Christmas and patriotic songs off that list, and basically those are the 28 songs that ended up on this record.  Recalling the lyrics, I organized the 28 songs into a prayer.  Even though the album was going to be instrumental, I knew these songs would be familiar to so many folks, so I wanted the lyrics to shape the order.  I decided to begin with songs acknowledging our dependance on God such as “I Need Thee Every Hour” and “My Faith Looks Up To Thee.”  Next, I would play songs like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “How Firm A Foundation” — songs that address God's sovereignty and providence.  I would continue with songs of surrender to God and then songs acknowledging His love for us.  Finally, I would end the prayer with songs asking for God's blessings and songs proclaiming our confidence in His divinity.

My favorite piano in Nashville is Brendan Harkin’s 1992 Yamaha C7FII at Wildwood Recording.  That piano makes everyone sound better.  I’m thankful that I was able to record this album on that incredible instrument.  The combination of those glorious hymns coupled with that magnificent piano made for a transcendent time for me recording my conversation with God.  

Over the past few years, I’ve received hundreds of comments from folks on how this album has blessed them.  I’m so incredibly grateful that God has used this album in that way.  I never dreamed that something so simple and so personal would touch other people the way it has.  I’ll never grow tired of hearing or playing those hymns, and I'm thankful that so many others share that same testimony.