"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." This is a well-known prayer that has been used by Speakers in the House of Commons of the British Parliament. In Britain it is sometimes known as the "Speaker's Prayer." The Speaker presides over the House of Commons, keeping order and enforcing discipline. Whoever holds this distinguished and centuries-old office has to have certain qualities and to be diplomatic, impartial, and respected by both sides of the House.
Twice a week in the House of Commons the Prime Minister comes to the chamber to answer questions. These sessions are confrontational and highly charged. It is at such times that the Speaker is most prominent. In the hurly-burly of political life the Speaker has an onerous task in upholding unconditional fair play. A "Speaker's Prayer" is no doubt much needed!
Let's look at the qualities the prayer asks for. Serenity implies a sense of calm -- a calm that comes from a deep inner peace, from communion with God. Courage is an unselfish, noble quality that puts principle before personality; it is willing to stand up to evil, even in the face of unethical temptations or practices. Wisdom comes from listening for God's guidance and being obedient.
Christ Jesus set the standard for all of Christianity long before the establishment of the British Parliament. He expressed serenity, courage, and wisdom, and showed them to be spiritual qualities. That means these qualities have a source beyond the human, in God. The book of Luke in the Bible says that once after Jesus read and spoke in his hometown synagogue, the people were so stirred up and enraged that they became an angry mob and tried to throw him off the brow of a hill (see chap. 4:16-32). But Jesus, expressing the serene qualities of poise and grace, "passing through the midst of them went his way." Apparently his thought was so at peace that the mob could not hurt him. Afterward he performed many wonderful healings. Because Jesus calmly heard God's message, he expressed the healing power of God.
The qualities of serenity, courage, and wisdom are spiritual companions that we all can have. Jesus' life is not just to read about but also to follow. From studying Christian Science, which was discovered by Mary Baker Eddy and is based on Jesus' teachings, I've come to pray for more calm, composure, and tranquillity in my life. This means that I'm being more mindful of cherishing these qualities-holding them in my thought. Holding to good in my thoughts, I see more of that good expressed around me. It's not about changing anyone; Jesus didn't try to change the mob. But he was unaffected by it. He kept calm. He had the courage from God to remain unintimidated, and the divine wisdom not to react but to pass through the scene of anger and danger and go on his way. And Jesus said we could follow his example.
These qualities the prayer asks for are really ours by reflection. By virtue of the fact that we are all the children of God, we reflect good from Him and express it.
When you meet with a disturbing or unpleasant situation, you need not be fazed. You can keep your composure by understanding that it comes from God. Because God is omnipresent, it cannot be taken from you. See that the power behind you is from God, and you will be neither afraid nor flustered by circumstances. You will have the wisdom that enables you to do the right thing at the right time.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy was first published in 1875. It says on page 571: "At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil."
By looking to God and cherishing the qualities He is bestowing on us, we will express dominion and composure. We will be overcoming "evil with good." The qualities needed in the Speaker -- serenity, courage and wisdom -- are also ours, by divine right.
Articles and features on Christian Science appear in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.