March 28, 2022
If you have never wanted to control a person or fix a situation, if you have never wanted to step in and take over because you knew your way was best, if you have never tossed and turned in the night because of worry, then raise your hand. That’s what I thought. As humans, we all want some degree of power and we all want to be in control of our lives. Our many cultures teach us that power and control are the ultimate achievements. But are they? Or are they simply illusions that control us?
Today, O Lord, I yield myself to You.
May Your will be my delight today.
May You have perfect sway in me.
May your love be the pattern of my living.
In these forty days before Easter, this Lenten season, I have been sharing my journey about practicing (practicing being the operative word) surrender and acceptance. Today’s blog explores a Christian form of contemplative prayer called The Welcoming Prayer. Contemplative prayer is often wordless prayer where, instead of dictating our desires to God (power and control?), we surrender our own voices and open ourselves to the work of the Spirit in our hearts: “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
The Welcoming Prayer is a prayer of surrender and acceptance, two behaviors quite countercultural in today’s world. Surrender is the act of moving ourselves aside; acceptance is being receptive to what is. This prayer is a prayer of relinquishment, of letting go of what we so often hold tightly. It is not an easy prayer.
I surrender to You my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions.
Do with them what You will, when You will, as You will.
The first step in The Welcoming Prayer is to settle ourselves quietly and “welcome” the Spirit, or the Christ, or God, or Allah, or the Buddha, or Nature, or whatever is we believe is the source of Divine Love. Our first surrender is this: I relinquish my desire for power and control. Welcome, welcome, welcome. Then we sit in the silence for a few minutes, surrendering everything or everyone we are trying to control and releasing where we are fighting for power over others. We let it all go, and welcome in its place Love. This is not an easy prayer.
I place into Your loving care my family, my friends, my future.
Care for them with a care that I can never give.
For the last four years, my adult daughter has walked through fire. Her journey has included a toxic work environment where she was emotionally and verbally harassed, a divorce, a job change that took her across the country during the worst days of the pandemic, working remotely over a year in a city where she knew no one, and now dealing with an immature and jealous co-worker who is undermining her work. I cannot count the number of times I have wanted to tell her “what do to” or how she “should” respond or what other courses of action she could take. I have tossed and turned with worry over her. I have wanted to fly to be with her and fix her problems. But . . . I . . . cannot. Her journey is her journey, and I, while I will always be present to her, have to relinquish (surrender) my desire for power and control (as if those will make everything all right, anyway), and accept that this is where she is right now. I have to take myself out of the equation in order to give space to Divine Love to show me how to respond with love, wisdom, and care. This relationship is simply one example of the many situations in which I crave control and power, yet I know that that craving is not leading me where I want to be spiritually. Control and power do not make me a gift to this world.
I release into Your hands my need to control, my craving for status, my fear of obscurity.
Seeking to relinquish power and control and “fixing” is not the same as being apathetic, uncaring, or giving up. It is, instead, an acquiescence that God is God and I am not, that in reality, I am powerless over everything except how I choose to respond in this life.
Eradicate the evil, purify the good, and establish Your Kingdom on earth.
For Jesus’ sake, Amen.
The prayer which I have quoted here is the Prayer of Relinquishment composed by the Quaker theologian and spiritual author and teacher, Richard Foster. It is not an easy prayer, yet it is a prayer for a more loving and peaceful world. Welcome, welcome, welcome.
Walking with you ~ Rosemary