“Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you today without reservation and with humble confidence, for you are my loving Father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tyranny of the approval and disapproval of others, that I may find joy and delight simply and solely in pleasing You. May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of Your presence, Your peace, Your power, and Your love. Let your plan for my life and the lives of all Your children gracefully unfold one day at a time. I love You with all my heart, and I place all my confidence in You, for You are my Abba.” Manning, Brennan. Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God. HarperCollins (July 2, 2002)
I found this prayer that I keep in a basket on my desk. I have shared it before, but I just found it again this morning and thought I’d share it again. I read Ruthless Trust as I was coming out of my season of panic about five years ago. By the grace of God, I had learned to stop my panic attacks by praying Scripture against the fear rising in me, but I was still an emotional and mental “ragamuffin”. This prayer really spoke to my heart back then (and still does each time I read it). I prayed it many times over the last several years. And God answered this prayer for me—I began sensing His Presence and joy and love and that freed me so that I didn’t feel like a prisoner inside myself.
To give you an example—in the past, a lot of times I wouldn’t go to Sunday School (even though I really wanted to) because I was afraid someone would ask me to commit to something I didn’t have time for, or worse, they might ask me to pray out loud. After spending time with God and in His Word, I stopped having these fears. However, when I started facilitating Bible studies, I discovered I had to pray out loud before each session and sometimes afterward. I was still new to praying out loud to God in my quiet time, so praying out loud in front of others made my heart pound. But one of the most important things I have learned in having a relationship with the Lord is that I am to be honest with Him. So I prayed honestly and from my heart that first day. And I have tried to do that since.
After 5 years of Bible study, I am still not completely comfortable praying out loud. Every time there is an initial lurch of my heart, and I pray inwardly for God to give me the words to pray. Then I pray slowly, listening inside for what He would have me say. It's total dependence on God. It's a little scary, but it's also thrilling because He always comes through.
You know, my walk with God is not at all what I thought it would be like. I thought I would have it all together once I turned my life over to Jesus. I thought I would be immune to distress and despair. I thought I would have all the answers, that God would tell me “the plan” for my life. But the reality is I still struggle with anticipatory anxiety and stress and my own self-centeredness and the weaknesses of my introverted personality. The reality is I need God every single day so that I can walk in His strength. I am His child and a child needs daily tender loving care. That is what He gives me.
Every day it seems to hit me anew that it is not my ability that God wants but my willingness to be surrendered to Him and to lean on His ability and not on myself. Less of the false prideful me, more of the real me created to be like Christ Jesus—obedient to God. Created to do good works and not to dwell in the darkness of pride and evil. I can live with that.
I don’t deserve this relationship I have with the Lord. And I am so thankful that He shows up when I need Him. I am thankful that He is willing to help us down the path of life one step at a time. He is faithful. And He has no favorites. He invites all to come and get to know Him and be reconciled through His plan of redemption that came through Jesus Christ.