There is power in relinquishing prayer. Power and peace. When we’ve prayed all we know to pray and the answer we want just doesn’t come, there is one more prayer to pray: “Father, Thy will be done.” And that is the prayer of relinquishment.
Catherine Marshall’s experience with this is one of the most memorable for me. She had been sick for six months with a lung infection that kept her bedfast. Medical treatment was not working. She had exhausted every approach to prayer she knew and nothing happened. So she said to God that if He wanted her sick and to spend the rest of her life in bed, then she would accept it. But with that prayer of relinquishment to God’s will came heavenly power and her recovery began.
Pastor David Cross of my church, First Assembly Memphis, tells of his being on a treatment table to receive radiation for a golf ball size cancer on his neck. As he waited, he prayed. Actually, he worshiped. For Pastor David didn’t petition God but said “Even if you don’t heal me, you are still my Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals.” He unconditionally relinquished his self-will to God’s will and at that very moment he knew healing had happened. He felt his neck and the tumor was gone. “I’ve been healed!” Pastor David cried out. “Yes, you certainly have,” declared the Radiation Therapist with tears in her eyes.
I had my own experience with relinquishing prayer when I thought my daughter was dying. For years, I had pleaded with God to heal her of health problems that had stolen so much from her. Then one day, her body began to shut down. In my car, headed toward the other end of the state and not knowing if she would be alive when I got to her, I gave it all to God. I told Him I was through pleading for her health and if it was His will to take her, I accepted that will completely. It was my relinquishing prayer. Immediately, peace poured over me—and she did not die.
When we can get to the place of total relinquishment, we honor God. We stop questioning. We cease struggling. We simply step away from all attempts to control what we never could control anyway. We believe in God’s love for us however He decides to give it. We accept His will. Sometimes relinquishing prayer brings exactly what we prayed for. Other times, we don’t get the answer, but we do get peace. My child lived, but she still has health problems; yet the complete peace God gave me in 2012 has solidly remained.
When we desperately want something, it is hard to relinquish. Most of us pray for long seasons of time for things we are desperate to have. Our prayers are at first relentless, not relinquishing. But when we can finally reach the place of giving unanswered prayer to God, we will know peace that only God can give. And with that peace is the power to accept whatever is the will of God.
Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42 Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (NIV). May we do no less.