Recently, I shared the 30-minute prayer method that has transformed my prayer life…again. 😉 I keep saying, second to actually starting to use our prayer journal in 2013, this is the biggest transformation I have seen in my prayer life!
The method consists of 6 different parts to pray though. (You can get the free PDF to download here.)
Today, I wanted to dive into one of the parts that God keeps expanding for me. It’s like I knew surrender was important (there’s a whole chapter on it in my book) but I’m learning the role it plays in each and every prayer I pray. Before things get out of hand, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to pray without having a portion specifically dedicated to surrender. There are plenty of short sentence prayers throughout my day that don’t involve a structured format. BUT, I do think a posture of surrender is essential to prayer and having it as a part of a structure will help it to begin to naturally flow from us.
Why is a posture of surrender essential?
Surrender is a response to our faith. If we trust God, we can surrender with confidence. If we’re on the fence or not sure if we trust God, we’re not actually praying, we’re looking for a second opinion.
And prayer without faith is essentially one thing: a wish.
We have hope God will listen but we aren’t really sure He will.
We have hope He’s a kind God, but can’t confirm it.
We have hope He’s a capable God, but who really knows?
This is our insurance policy on the off chance that what God says is true actually is.
And if it feels like I’m making too big a deal of faith, this is what the Bible says:
James 1:5-8 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Mark 6:5-6 says, “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.”
This doesn’t mean that if we have doubts, we shouldn’t pray. We should always come to God. Even the disciples asked God to increase their faith! What Scripture is saying is that if we ask, we shouldn’t expect to receive it, without faith.
Doesn’t this make sense of why prayer (a conversation with the God of the universe) could ever feel hollow and boring? It’s like wishing on a star and walking away because what’s that really gonna do?
Or maybe prayer is not necessarily boring, but you’re missing out on the contentment that comes when we fully surrender every part of our lives without holding anything back.
If prayer requires faith, then surrender is our active way of posturing our heart in that place even when we don’t do it naturally.
So what does that look like to surrender?
I’ll start with a snippet of what I shared about surrendering in the 30-minute method:
George Mueller said, “I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter.” I remember reading these words and just thinking how foreign this concept was to my prayers.
It’s something I think about when I am challenged with something but it’s not something I make a point to do daily. But we need to! This prepares our hearts for praying requests that align with God’s will. It’s hard to pray selfish prayers when we’ve spent time bending our will to His. …
So the approach is simple but not easy. Get our hearts in such a place that it has no will of its own. How do we do that? By reminding ourselves of a few things. As you take time before to share requests with the Lord, think about these things and pray for God to let each ring true in your heart.
1. Surrender requires us to answer the question “Why do I trust God?”
Why is God worthy of my surrender? As I made these prayers my own, I was amazed how much Scripture reminded me that God was indeed smarter than me. That should be obvious but if I’m clinging to my own plan even in prayer, it implies I think I’d make this decision better than God. So take time to remember why God is worthy of your prayers. Be reminded of His unlimited knowledge and even of our own limited knowledge. It might even require dredging up a few tough reminders of the last time you attempted to go your own way to really put things into perspective.
Matthew 7:9-11 – Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Do I really think God will hold out on me? God gives the best.
Luke 9:23-25 – And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
I love these reminders. God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us. Did He change His mind or decide to stop loving me? Never!
Isaiah 55:8-9 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So succinct and to the point.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
What does my own understanding look like as I pray and how do I lean on it less?
Romans 11:33-36 – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Another reminder of God’s knowledge.
Jeremiah 10:23 – I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
If for a minute I can convince myself that I got here on my own, this reminds me it’s all by His hands.
2. Surrender requires us to acknowledge what is eternal and what is temporary.
If we are consumed by our worldly and temporary things, it will be really hard to surrender that business decision or our kid’s struggle in school. It will be hard to release the house we’re hoping to purchase or the church wish list that includes perfect music and preaching. When we remember eternity, we can better surrender the now. Otherwise, it’s really easy to make mountains out of molehills because we live in the molehill and can’t even comprehend how big (and amazing!) the mountain is. Keep coming back to Scripture to get glimpses!
2 Corinthians 4:18 – As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
A simple, but important reminder that what I see isn’t everything.
Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
A reminder that it’s easy to hold on too tightly to the wrong things.
Romans 4:8 – And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
A sweet image that the ones who see God in heaven can’t help but worship Him! Give us eyes to see and surrender to such a worthy king!
3. Surrender requires us to see our sacrifice as an act of worship.
When we surrender, it’s not automatically easy. It does require sacrifice and we don’t have to pretend it doesn’t. The best thing we can know is that God is worthy of our sacrifice and when we sacrifice, it is our way of giving back to God a small token of what He’s given to us. It’s not meant to repay the sacrifice (we can’t!) but instead a sign of worship.
Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
If we long for practical ways to worship God, surrender is a big one!
Mark 14:36 – And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus sacrificing His life in total devotion to God as He surrendered!
When we come to this place of surrender, we’ll almost feel silly for desiring to call the shots and instructing God to answer our prayers. We’re surrendering the outcome before we even make the request. And friends, that’s just such a joyful place to be in! We aren’t white-knuckling our life for control. We’re flexible. We’re ready to see what God will do, knowing full well it is the best thing.
Related post: When God Seems Unfair