Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Do Not Pray This Prayer

            The “Covenant Prayer”1 is a powerful prayer of a Christian, who willingly and unconditionally surrenders his/her life to God. But please do not pray this prayer if you are uncertain of your dependency on God or if you are not sincere in your relationship with God or if you have not thought through your relationship with God.

The Covenant Prayer

            This is the contemporary version of the Wesleyan covenant prayer:2

I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,

Praised for you or criticized for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.

And now, O wonderful and holy God,

Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,

you are mine, and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

Let it also be made in heaven.  Amen.

The Theology

            This is the theology that undergirds this prayer. Just as God’s love for us is unconditional, our response to God should also be unconditional. This basic tenet of committing or surrendering our lives to God, in an absolute sense, governs our relationship with God. If we are not keen on totally and unconditionally committing or surrendering our lives to God, then our relationship with God cannot be on the right path.

            The Lord Jesus taught that in order to follow HIM, we are to deny ourselves of any selfish, worldly or material pleasures, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25, NIV).

            Moreover, Christ taught that our love for God should be nothing less than absolute, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’" (Matthew 22: 36-37, NIV). Similarly, the Apostle Paul taught that we are to be a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1; cf. Mark 10:28; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Galatians 2:20).

The Challenge

            The challenge inherent in committing ourselves to God totally or unconditionally is our allegiance to selfish gains and worldly pleasures. It is very difficult for a spiritually-young or spiritually-immature Christian to renounce his/her selfish gains and worldly pleasures for the sake of God.

            It is quite easy to read about Paul delighting in his weaknesses, insults, persecutions and difficulties, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10, NIV). But it is excruciatingly difficult to live out a life that virtually delights in loss and weaknesses.

            Our immediate reaction when we are attacked by evil is to either ask God why HE delivered us to evil or we plead with HIM to deliver us from evil. Sometimes we even reject God (cf. Job 2:9b).

            But how often do we thank and praise God when evil plunders and renders us homeless, jobless, penniless or worthless (cf. Psalm 34: 1; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)? This is the existential challenge!

            Then there is the theological challenge.

            A section of Christendom believes in being the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28: 13). This group of people (prosperity gospel or health & wealth gospel’s proponents) is always in search of victory, “One of our church members saw his sales performance hit rock bottom by the middle of the year. As a result, he was ranked 320 out of the 420 financial advisers in his company. Devastated and on the verge of giving up, he started listening to my messages and claiming God’s promises such as “the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath” and “many who are first will be last, and the last first”. (Matthew 19:30) He committed everything to God because he believed that only God could turn things around for him. And God did just that.”3

            Those who subscribe to prosperity gospel believe that “…believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the "sowing of seeds" through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings.”4

            Significantly, the proponents of prosperity gospel would theologically negate the core tenet of the covenant prayer, which is to surrender ourselves to God - lock, stock and barrel. This is the theological challenge!

The Reason (To Pray Or Not To)

            You may not belong to the prosperity gospel faction of Christianity. But you may believe that it is God’s bounden responsibility to bless us and not deprive us. If you subscribe to this thought process, then please do not pray this prayer thoughtlessly.

            Take time to study your Bible. Meditate upon God’s goodness and love. God, who is absolutely good and loving, allowed Joseph to be sold to the Ishmaelites by his own brothers (Genesis 37:12-36). God allowed Job to be tormented by the evil one. The Bible is replete with such instances.

            As much as the Bible speaks about the faithful being blessed, it also speaks about the faithful not being blessed in worldly terms, “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11: 35b-40, NIV, Emphasis Mine).

The Conclusion

            The covenant prayer is a powerful prayer, designed to bring us closer to God. We cannot be close to God if we equate God with our selfish gains and material blessings. So pray this prayer, if you sincerely desire to grow in your love for God, by laying aside your desire for selfish gains and material blessings.

            Our joy is to be found in Christ alone (Colossians 1: 27), not anything else, certainly not the material blessings, “a fixation on material prosperity as the measure of their faith makes Christians weak when hardship strikes because their unrealistic, unbiblical expectations are not met and they feel let down. Worse still, their appreciation of the core blessings of Christianity (eternity in the presence of God, salvation from sin and judgment, complete renewal, etc.) is dulled by finding their primary joy in peripheral blessing. Most seriously, the teaching of blessing in exchange for sowing a “seed” or some other work undermines the fundamental teaching of grace: the unmerited favour of God towards sinful man. The supreme irony about this thing called the prosperity gospel is that it actually leads to spiritual poverty in the life of a Christian. We need to stamp it out to restore the joy of the Christian’s salvation, so that in all circumstances of life they can find their meaning, their purpose, and their joy in Christ alone.”5


1This prayer was written by John Wesley. Covenant is an agreement between two entities. In our context, the covenant prayer is an agreement between man and God.

Covenant Prayer (Traditional Version)
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside by thee.
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.





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