As we continued our “Great Prayers of the Bible” series this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I spoke from Mary’s prayers of surrender to God in Luke 1. This weekend’s message explores what it means to pray into a place of surrender with God and why surrendering to God in prayer is one of the best things we can do. This was the second of two weekends of outdoor worship services for us, which explains why the video may look different.
In my message this past weekend, “Prayer of Surrender,” I shared two different quotations related to ways in which we need to relinquish our life to God. The first came from Richard Foster, in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home:
Struggle is an essential feature of prayer…Jesus’ prayer struggle [in the Garden of Gethsemane] – replete with bloody sweat – lasted long into the night….All the luminaries in Scripture struggled as well: Abraham as he relinquished his son, Isaac; Moses as he relinquished his understanding of how the deliverer of Israel should function; David as he relinquished the son given to him by Bathsheba;…Paul as he relinquished his desire to be free of a debilitating ‘thorn in the flesh.’
The second was a story taken from Adrian Rogers‘ book The Incredible Power of Kingdom of Authority. While I cannot necessarily speak to the entire book, in one particular section he records a conversation he has with Romanian pastor, author and president of the Romanian Missionary Society, Dr. Josef Tson. Tson had survived persecution and exile under the Communist rule. Rogers asks Tson what his perception of American Christianity is, and he responds:
Well, Adrian, since you have asked me, I’ll tell you. The key word in American Christianity is commitment….When you make a commitment, you are still in control, no matter how noble the thing you commit to. One can commit to pray, to study the Bible, to give his money, or to commit to automobile payments, or to lose weight. Whatever he chooses to do, he commits to. But surrender is different. If someone holds a gun and asks you to lift your hands in the air as a token of surrender, you don’t tell that person what you are committed to. You simply surrender and do as you are told….Americans love commitment because they are still in control. But the key word is surrender. We are to be slaves to the Lord Jesus Christ.’
 Richard J. Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 50.
 Adrian Rogers, The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority (Nashville: B&H Books, 2002).
In my message yesterday, “Prayer of Surrender,” I shared the Prayer of Abandonment by Charles de Foucauld.
It is a simple, yet powerful, echo of Mary’s prayer in Luke 1:38, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
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.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
“The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.
“Rare medieval bible returned to shelf at Canterbury Cathedral” – “A 13th century bible, one of a handful of books which survived intact when the library of Canterbury Cathedral was broken up at the time of the Reformation, is back in the building after almost 500 years. The Lyghfield bible – named for a monk at the cathedral who once owned it – is the only complete bible and the finest illuminated book known to have survived from the medieval collection. The cathedral won a grant of almost £96,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and raised £4,000 more to buy it at a recent rare books sale in London.”
“Can ‘White’ People Be Saved?” – At the beginning of July I spent a week in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a small group of pastors, professors, and non-profit leaders learning from Dr. Willie James Jennings around his outstanding book The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race. I wish I could have taken everyone there with me because the conversations were transformative for me, even as I continue to ponder all that I experienced. Since I couldn’t take you with me, I’d like to share this video of Dr. Jennings’ session at Fuller Theological Seminary, in which he helps define “whiteness” and the ways in which Christianity has been distorted through a racialized imagination. This is not for the faint of heart, but I highly recommend you wrestle with this challenging message. [Thanks to Nic Fridenmaker for sharing this particular link with me.]
“Choosing Church: There are lots of reasons to avoid church, but here are the reasons to look again” – After listening to Jennings, you may find it helpful to look at this essay written over a year ago by Marilyn McEntyre, in which she addresses questions about Christianity’s relevance in the context of the rise of “religious nones” and in a politically and racially divided world. McEntyre offers both admission of reasons to avoid church while also pointing to the ways in which the church is still important.
“Come All Ye Faithless” – A couple weeks ago on “This American Life” Eric Mennel told the story of one church planter, Watson Jones, who sets out on his mission to build a new church in a very challenging setting. As I listened, I was reminded again and again of the challenges of urban, multi-ethnic church planting. This episode will make you laugh and cry, particularly if you have been a part of efforts like this. [Thanks to the ten different people who shared this link with me.]
“Archaeologists May Have Discovered a Church Built on the Site of Constantine the Great’s Conversion to Christianity” – “Archaeologists working along the banks of the Tiber river in Rome last week discovered what may be the remnants of an early Christian church likely dating to the fourth century CE. The site of the church is only about 150 to 200 meters from where the emperor Constantine fought his rival Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312 CE — and in close proximity to the place where historical accounts indicate that Constantine saw a cross emblazoned in the sky, a cross that convinced him to convert to Christianity.”
While in conversation with some colleagues in ministry, one of them shared a ministry resource with me that I had not encountered. The Flourishing in Ministry project is organized by the Well Being at Work initiative of the University of Notre Dame. “Flourishing in Ministry examines what motivates pastors and priests to be engaged in ministry—and what disrupts them from experiencing wellbeing in their work. In our research, we attempt to explore how clergy—often working with lean resources—can give so much to others, and experience a sense of fulfillment and growth in their daily work lives.” Explore it and flourish.
“Barnes & Noble says sales of books related to anxiety are soaring. Here’s why” – If you’ve been feeling anxious about life in our current cultural climate, you may not be the only one. “Sales of books related to anxiety are up more than 25 percent through this past June from a year ago, according to Barnes & Noble. The bookseller said ‘we may be living in an anxious nation.'”
“Remedial Bergman: On his centennial, introducing the great director to a new generation” – One of my favorite movie directors of all time is Ingmar Bergman, both in relation to the themes of his work and the skill with which he directs movies. John Simon offers a helpful introduction to Bergman and his work over at The Weekly Standard. He writes: “Bergman is unequaled in his filming of the human face; he uses faces in eloquent, sometimes sublime, close-ups to tell much of his stories. This is one reason why conventional synopsis often doesn’t suffice with Bergman’s films.”
[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]