Prayer of Relinquishment
Introductory prayer: O Lord, how do I let go when I’m so unsure of things? I’m unsure of your will, and I’m unsure of myself…Is it that I might hate the very idea of letting go? Or is it that I really want to be in control? Am I afraid to give up control, afraid of what might happen? Heal my fear, Lord. How good of you to reveal my blind spots even in the midst of my stumbling attempts to pray. Thank you! How do I give up control? Jesus, teach me your way of relinquishment.
It is through the specifics of daily life – through our lived experiences – that we can learn to practise the prayer of relinquishment. Here are some prayers to pray as helpful steps to practise the prayer of relinquishment.
The prayer of self-emptying. Meditatively pray through Philippians, chapter 2 that describes the kenosis, the self-emptying of Christ, who was in the form of God but who voluntarily took on the form of a servant and became obedient to the point of death. Ask the brooding Spirit of God to apply your prayer to the specifics of your day. Wait quietly. Listen carefully. Obey immediately.
The prayer of surrender. Using any of the synoptic Gospels, go with Jesus into the Garden. Stay awake and watch. See his sorrowing soul. Let your heart be saddened too. Struggle with him in seeking other options, hoping to avoid the cup. Now, speak his words as your own: “Not my will, but yours be done.” Invite the resurrected One to interpret the words into your life, your family, your vocation, etc.
The prayer of abandonment. De Caussade’s book Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence may be helpful. Or use the words of Charles de Foucauld, “Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures – I wish no more than this, O Lord.” Allow the Sovereign of your heart to specify what needs to be laid at his feet.
The prayer of release. First, lift up into his arms your children, your spouse, your friends, etc. Next, place into his loving care your future, your hopes, your dreams. Finally, hold up to him your enemies, your angers, your desire for retaliation. Give it all into his hands, and then turn around and walk away. He will care for everything as he sees fit.
The prayer of resurrection. “Lord”, you may pray, “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 your way. Thank you, Lord, for resurrection.” Some things will remain dead – it is better for you that they do. Others will burst forth into new life in such a way that you will hardly recognize them. In either case, rest in the confidence that God is better than you are at resurrection.
Relinquishing takes us into rugged terrain. The climb is steep, the rocks are sharp, and the trail passes by precarious rides. From every human viewpoint, at times it looks as if we have fallen over the precipice to our death. But we know better. We know that we are only falling into the arms of Jesus fully satisfied, fully at rest. Prayer. “The Prayer of Relinquishment”. Richard Foster, p. 48-58.