Nature of Prayer (3): Surrender
The last movement of prayer is surrender. “Not my will, but Thine be done.” This cry of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane crystallizes for us the final response of prayer that, at some point, we all must make. Prayer is asking and receiving. Prayer is listening and hearing. But prayer finally is bringing our will into line with God’s. This final movement in prayer overcomes the fundamental rebellion that began with Adam and which is at the core of our fallen human nature.
It is perhaps not obvious, but all other forms of prayer lead us and prepare us for this moment- which happens again and again. When we ask for things, we recognize we cannot make it on our own. This begins the weaning process for us. We no longer see ourselves as simply self-sufficient creatures but people who need others, people who need God. After a time, we move beyond seeing God as simply a “provider” but actually as a “Someone”. The walls go down and we begin to take this “Person” seriously, to listen for His response. We begin to want and to hunger after what He wants, what He thinks.
But all of this is leading up to the moment when our fallen natures will want to assert themselves against God. It may be over a simple innocuous thing or it may be over a large moral matter. In this dramatic moment, we re-enact man’s initial crisis in the Garden of Eden. What direction shall we take? We can take the adamic way, listening no longer to the voice of God but hearing only the sound of our own disordered will. We can turn from the life-giving presence of God into our own silence, breaking from genuine communion with Him. Or we can continue in prayer which we now discover, is nothing other than a genuine communion with God in which He is transparent before us and we before Him. If we continue in this communion with Him (or put another way, if we continue in prayer), we will stop our rebellion and yield ourselves to His will, thereby finding life. Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done.