Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us,
and we are his;
we are his people,
the sheep of his pasture.
Prayer reminds us that God is our Maker. That we belong to God. That God is our Shepherd and we are the sheep of God’s pasture. These are truths that prayer helps us to know as living truths.
An important aspect of knowing that God is God, is knowing that we are not God. That may sound pretty obvious but we tend to forget that we are creatures. Knowing that God is God means that we live in the reality that there are things that we do not have the power to do for ourselves or for others. It means that we acknowledge that we are limited. It means remembering that our lives were meant to be lived in loving, joyful dependence on God.
Knowing that God is God also means that our Maker is eager to be our Shepherd. God is eager to guide us, protect us and provide for us, just as a Shepherd cares for his sheep.
In order to let this knowledge become a reality in our lives, we need to begin by letting go of all the ways that we knowingly and unknowingly play God in our own lives and in the lives of others. One way we might do this is by practicing the first three steps of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous—the spiritual practices in these steps can help us whether we are struggling with an addiction or not.
In the first step we admit that we are powerless to control all that is beyond our control. And we admit that trying to control these things leaves our lives unmanageable. For some of us the main issue might be alcohol. For others it might be other people and their behavior. For others it might be a sense of spiritual brokenness. Any time we try to control what we cannot control, we will find ourselves anxious, angry and resentful. And we will find that our lives have gotten out of control. Admitting that we are powerless allows us to return to the basic truth that we are not God.
The second step is coming to believe that there is a Power greater than ourselves who can restore us to sanity. This is the step of acknowledging that there is a God. There is a God who is powerful and who is on our side. A God who longs to restore us to sanity. A God who longs to heal us and help us.
The third step is making the decision (sometimes daily, sometimes hourly) to turn our lives and wills over to God’s loving care. This is the step of letting God be God. It may mean turning our addiction or obsession over to God. It may mean turning our loved one over to God’s care. It always means turning ourselves over to God’s care. It means becoming who we are, the sheep of God’s pasture.
Prayer is living in the freeing, healing truth that God is God. And we are not.
All too often
I try to be in charge of things
over which I have no control.
I try to be God in my life
and in other peoples’ lives.
I tell myself my intentions are good,
but the truth is that I try to control because I am afraid.
But when I act out of fear I create a bigger mess.
I admit today that only you are God.
I acknowledge that you have power far beyond my own.
I choose to let go of all that is beyond my control.
I entrust my life, my will
and all I care about
to your loving care.
Ask God to show you all that you are trying to control that is beyond your control. Make a list of what comes to mind. Admit your powerlessness over these things. Acknowledge God’s power to restore you and to do what you cannot do. Ask God to give you the grace to entrust your life and will and all that is on your list to God’s loving care.
from An Enduring Embrace: Experiencing the Love at the Heart of Prayer,
by Juanita Ryan, 2012