Therefore, I urge you…in view of God’s mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices
holy and pleasing to God—
this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve
what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Prayer is an act of entrusting ourselves and all that we care about to God’s loving care. As David Benner, in his book Surrender to Love, puts it:
The English word surrender carries the implication of putting one’s full weight on someone or something. It involves letting go—a release of effort, tension and fear. And it involves trust. One cannot let go of self-dependence and transfer dependence to someone else without trust (David Benner, Surrender to Love:Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality, Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003.)
According to this text from Romans, it is because of God’s mercy that we can entrust ourselves to God. It is in view of God’s tender, powerful, unshakeable love for us, that we can allow ourselves to relax into the ocean of God’s love. Prayer, then, is a surrender to love. It is a laying down of our despair that we are unloveable. It is an opening of our closed hearts and clenched fists to the possibility of resting in God’s mercy and love. It is the daily act of inviting the One who is love to heal us and guide us.
This experience of letting go and relaxing into God’s love is what our hearts most long for and what our hearts most resist. We resist it because it means letting go of trying to be in charge of our own lives. It means letting go of trying to earn God’s approval, and everyone else’s approval. It means allowing ourselves to move into the vulnerability of a trusting child.
For many of us, the capacity to trust that we are loved or that we are lovable has been deeply wounded. We may long to rest in God’s love, but find ourselves unable to do so. This inability may add to our fear and shame. And it may serve to increase our futile attempts to fix ourselves spiritually.
We cannot make ourselves surrender. We cannot force ourselves to relax into God’s loving arms. We cannot do this on our own power. But we can ask God to free us to live in full, joyful surrender to God’s will for us each day.
This text from the book of Romans urges us to surrender all. Our bodies. Our minds. Our wills. The bodies that we instinctively try to protect. Our minds that give us a false sense of control. Our wills that guide our daily choices. All that we are, we are urged to offer as a loving gift to the One who loves us, the One who desires to provide for us, teach us, and lead us. May we learn the joy, the peace, of such full surrender.
Lover of my soul,
You give yourself to me
and ask that, in return, I give myself to you.
You urge me to rest
body, mind and spirit
in your loving arms.
You ask me to entrust all that I am
and all that I have into your care.
Teach me this sweet surrender
to your love.
Sit quietly, inviting God to help you give yourself to God.
First, give your body to God. Wait in quiet. Entrust your body to God’s care. Ask the Spirit to show you whatever the Spirit might show you about what this might mean for you. Allow yourself to physically relax into God’s loving care.
Next, give your mind to God. Wait in quiet. Entrust your mind to God’s care. Ask the Spirit to show you whatever the Spirit chooses to show you about what this might mean. Allow yourself to mentally relax into God’s loving care.
Finally, give your will to God. Wait in quiet. Entrust your will to God’s care. Ask the Spirit to reveal whatever the Spirit might reveal about God’s will for you right now. Allow your whole being to relax into God’s loving care.
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