Years ago I had a dream. I was carrying someone up a mountain, struggling under the weight to keep my footing on a narrow rocky path – a rock wall to my right, a cliff edge to my left. I fell, in terror as sheer as the cliff. Then, a big invisible hand caught both me and my burden before we hit the ground. We fell into a soft, enveloping safety and I woke, relief flooding my heart.
I had the same dream three times on the same night, each carrying a different person. God was trying to get through to my wildly codependent subconscious that He was responsible for me and the people I was trying to rescue, that we were safe with him. Best of all, those people weighing me down were caught in God’s other hand. I had nothing to do with their rescue, having dropped them when I fell – just to avoid any confusion about who is and isn’t capable of rescue.
Not all of us are rescue rangers but we all have stuff or people or issues we cling to, even idolize. And we won’t be at peace until we let God have them.
That’s where prayers of surrender come in. In this way of praying, we slowly learn to open our hearts to God, like a fist that has clenched too long being gradually pried open. First it hurts, but then we are free.
Surrendering control is against our nature, so it will not happen all at once. Like sandpaper on hardwood, we hand ourselves over to God to be worked on. It goes something like this:
- We get alone and calm and aware of God, to be best of our ability. (See the earlier blogs in this series, 1, 2 and 3.)
- We dwell on the thing we are clinging to, telling God why we want/need it so much, and all our fears about losing it.
- We acknowledge that God, our creator, knows more than we do, and has loves us more than we know. So we say, “Your will be done.”
- We put the matter in God’s hands. Try actually lifting the person, habit, situation, whatever, up to Him in your imagination, and actually lift up your arms.
- We let go. We say, “I give up. If you don’t want me to have this, take it away.”
Sometimes we’ll get what we want; the job, the relationship, the house – whatever, along with clarity that we need God more. Other times, God takes it away for good. We don’t always get to know why, either.
Surrendering our big issues is key, but surrender also needs to happen in our everyday lives. I knew a missionary in Austria who took every Sunday afternoon to review each family relationship, his work issues, and his life in the community. He asked God to show him what was best in all of these, surrendering his own agenda to listen.
Some people are systematic, and a daily or weekly prayer of surrender really helps them. Others feel trapped by that, and it’s better to just deal with things as they come up. Either way, we have to surrender if we want peace, and the joy of seeing God doing good things in our lives.
Chunks of the Bible that can help us with surrender include: praying the Lord’s prayer, imagining Jesus’ ultimate surrender at Gethsemane, meditating on the poem in Philippians 2, or memorizing Galatians 2:20.