The Prayer of Relinquishment

As we progress in prayer, our prayers gradually begin to look more and more like those we see from Jesus and Paul and others. The prayer of relinquishment moves us from struggling in always asking God for what we want to releasing our will to His.

Side note: When I first taught this, this form of prayer was foreign to me. Since then, it has become one of my favorites.

Jesus. praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, laid down his human will. Christian theology says that there is one person, both fully God and fully human, Jesus Christ, who had two wills. To believe that Jesus only had one will is heresy. Jesus’ human will submitted fully to his divine will. Jesus’ prayer in the Garden displayed his human will asking for God to let the cup pass from him, finding his prayer unanswered, and submitting his human will to the divine will.

Obviously, you and I only have one will. But it still must be transformed and surrendered to the will of God.

Richard Foster describes this prayer with the image of a person sitting in the hot summer sun who falls into a swimming pool for relief from the heat. There is a sense that a thirst has been quenched when a person falls into the arms of Jesus with this kind of prayer. I agree with him, at least at the end. But at the beginning, this prayer is a struggle.

Struggle is a necessary feature of this prayer. Jesus struggled in the garden to the point of sweating blood. Foster writes, “Struggle is important because the Prayer of Relinquishment is Christian prayer and not fatalism. We do not resign ourselves to fate.” Instead, we surrender our wills, crucify our wills, knowing that day by day, as we face the decisions in front of us, God will be faithful to see us through.

Andrew Murray writes,

“The Spirit teaches me to yield my will entirely to the will of the Father. He opens my ear to wait in great gentleness and teachableness of soul for what the Father has day by day to speak and to teach. He discovers to me how union with God’s will is union with God Himself; how entire surrender to God’s will is the Father’s claim, the Son’s example, and the true blessedness of the soul.”

The prayer of relinquishment may happen more easily by changing posture. Kneeling to pray and lifting your hands to God symbolizes your surrender. Wrestle with God in your words. Don’t simply start the prayer by telling God that you want His will to be done. Tell him what you really want to happen. And be careful not to assume that just because you want something, it is at odds with what God wants.

You might lift up in your arms people: your spouse, children, and close friends. Then give God your future, hopes and dreams. Give him your angers, enemies, and desire for revenge. At the end, pray something like, “Lord, crucify in me what needs to be crucified. Bring back to life what will please you and advance your kingdom. Let it come in whatever form you desire. Let it be in your time and in your way. Thank you for resurrection.” Some things will stay dead, and that’s good.

So, what do you need to relinquish? And what might your life look like if this became a regular part of your prayers?


Posted on November 4, 2016, in prayer and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. More like Jesus, yes. But less like Paul.
    If we want to imitate Jesus, we should know which commandment is the Most Important One. To Jesus. No, it’s not “Love” or “Love your neighbor.”

    Poem – What is love?

    Two men came to Jesus
    With different motivations.
    They asked Him the same question
    Relevant to all the nations:

    Which is the Most Important?
    The answer was the same.
    Jesus did not manipulate
    He was not there to play a game.

    “Love the Lord your God” said Jesus
    as He quoted from The Law –
    to fulfill and not abolish
    was His purpose, full of awe.

    Jesus did not make all Scripture
    Into one new great commandment.
    He summarized The Law and Prophets
    “First and Greatest” and “The Second.”

    The Love of God is higher
    Than the love of any man.
    Receive from God, give back to God-
    Then to others, that’s His plan.

    The Love of God involves much more
    Than simply “love your fellow man.”
    Worship, trust, and pray to God,
    and obey Him – that’s His plan

    To worship and pray to neighbors,
    Whoever they may be,
    Or trust and obey our enemies
    Would be idolatry.

    The love of God is first and greatest,
    And the love of man is second.
    “All we need is love” are words
    of dead Beetles on the pavement.

    “The entire law is summed up in a single command”
    are not the words of Jesus our Salvation.
    It’s false teaching of Paul the Pharisee
    an “accuser of our brethren.”

    “Love” without God is Satan’s word through Paul
    in his chapter to the Corinthians.
    “I will show you the most excellent way”
    is the road to eternal perdition.

    Where is God in Paul’s chapter on love?
    Nowhere in view of the eye.
    Paul sings about himself like a Mexican Mariachi
    “I, I, I, I.”

    Jesus is The Most Excellent Way
    Not the words of a Pharisee.
    The words of Jesus are very clear.
    Jesus said, “You must follow ME.”



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