Most all of us have what could be called our “pet prayer.” There certain words and phrases we consistently if not constantly pray to God, revealing our life themes. The contents of this prayer disclose much about what is important to us, about what we seek to avoid as well as strive after.
John Wesley, the founder of the people called Methodists, offers us a prayer which typifies not only his mission, but also the contents of his heart and commitment to God. Like the Lord’s Prayer, Wesley’s prayer is one all Christians should pray and live — daily. It is, however, not a prayer to be taken lightly, but almost as seriously as wedding vows. To prayer Wesley’s prayer means to enter into covenant with him, just as we enter into union with Jesus through the Lord’s Prayer. Wesley’s prayer is as powerful for me as the Lord’s Prayer:
“I am no longer my own but Yours,
Put me to what You will,
Put me to doing. Put me to suffering,
Let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You,
Exulted for You, or brought low for You.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to
Your pleasure and disposal.
And now glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am Yours, so be it.
And this covenant now made on earth,
Let it be satisfied in Heaven.
Let us look briefly at each verse:
“I am no longer my own but Yours,” — In the beginning is the question of possession: whose life is it, anyway? In the beginning is the faith which turns your life, your substance over to God, to the One and only Absolute. Your life does not belong to you, but to the One who created it, and who will eventually reclaim it. You must not under any circumstances give your life into anybody or anything else’s keeping; only the holy hands of God can safely and securely hold, heal and save your life. If you cannot truly pray these words, go no further.
“Put me to what You will,” — The will of God is paramount for our lives. This conforms to Jesus teaching in His prayer: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We are here adding, “And let it begin with me.” We are asking God to direct our course; where God leads us we will follow; what God assigns, we will do. Our whole objective in life must be to do the will of God, nothing more, and nothing less. This is the mark of a true disciple.
“Put me to doing. Put me to suffering,” — it is for God and not for us to determine our vocation and course. Our course will likely include suffering. Are you willing to suffer for the sake of God and God’s kingdom? If even a single generation of disciples says no, the church will atrophy and die.
“Let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You,” –God will both employ and lay us off. We must be willing to work or not to work, with almost equal acceptance. It’s God’s work after all; it does not belong to us. We need maturity and patience to perform and complete God’s work in God’s timing.
“Exulted for You, or brought low for You.” –Are you willing either to succeed or fail, to be praised or slandered for God’s sake? What is important to God is our wholehearted service, rather than our worldly success. Our success before God is defined by the quality and extent of our self-giving love, in response to Christ’s self-giving love to us.
“Let me be full, let me be empty.” — Are you willing to serve God whether your cup runneth over or remains empty? The truth is, we will have in our service for God both feasts and famines, times of fullness and emptiness — but never times of boredom!
“Let me have all things, let me have nothing.” — We must beware of serving God with a “what’s in it for me” attitude. Our task is to be as unconditional in our love and loyalty to God, as God’s acceptance of us is unconditional in Christ.
“I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.” –Since we belong to God, all that is ours belongs to God as well. It is God’s will to bless not only ourselves, but even our belongings. Yet to receive God’s blessing, we must offer all we have and are to God, holding nothing back. Whatever we hold back, God likely will not bless.
“And now glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” –God is to be loved and worshiped in and as the Trinity. We are destined to live forever in the Trinity, by our entrance into Christ. The Trinity is the holy circle of God’s love.
“You are mine and I am Yours, so be it.” — Having given all things, including our very souls over to God, we claim God as our own. This is the meaning of true devotion in the Hebrew Bible. In love and desire, we cleave to God as our one and only possession; we live the words of Psalm 73:25-26: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
“And this covenant now made on earth, Let it be satisfied in Heaven.” — We need to accept that we will not receive the full benefits of our covenant with God here, but only in heaven. It’s similar to the process of making investments for retirement. God as our ultimate Employer makes investments right along with us, which we cannot draw upon until our death. We make our share of investments by means of deeds of love and service. At most we can receive some of the interest, or perhaps an advance, but never the full payment of the principle we accrue through engaging in the Lord’s work. In heaven, we will finally, fully receive the entire principle we have accrued, plus the interest — which is the additive of whatever God’s grace will freely bestow on us. True satisfaction awaits us in heaven.