Over the weekend, I received a private message. I have permission to share the concern anonymously, so here goes.
“I was confused by the use of the word ‘abandon’ in your recent blog. To me, abandon means to dessert or leave, so when you shared the Prayer of Abandonment and it says, ‘Father, I abandon my will to yours’, it sounds contradictory. Can you explain what this means to you?”
First, thank you so much for your feedback and support. I appreciate hearing from all of you out there in cyberspace.
Second, I looked up the verb form of the word abandon in the dictionary and copied the definitions here:
- cease to support or look after (someone); desert.
- give up completely (a course of action, a practice, or a way of thinking)
And, it may also be helpful to look at some synonyms of the second definition of abandon: relinquish, disown, forswear, give up, do away with.
And while, yes, the word abandon is the action of deserting someone, it’s the second definition that is referred to in the Prayer of Abandonment. It is an action I am performing, not that is being performed against me. I am relinquishing or giving up my will…voluntarily…to conform to God’s will for me in my life.
I hope that was helpful. It was a hard one for me at first too, because the use of the word abandon in our current culture usually refers to the negative. But even with the first meaning, if I turn it around and say, “Prayer of those sins I have abandoned” or “Father, I have abandoned my willful ways to follow your will for me”, it works as well.
So as we work towards leaving behind our will and following God’s, the question arises: How do we do that? The best way I can think of is through prayer, mediation and study.
In prayer, we initiate a conversation with God. Think of it like calling up a good friend. The Prayer of Abandonment” is one way to say what it is we are feeling, but God doesn’t require a form letter. Say what ever is on your heart…even the negative. God already knows, but like a loving parent, He is waiting for you to come to him with your joys and sorrows, your dreams and your disappointments. So. whether you pray the Our Father or speak your own words, God will be listening to your heart.
Remember, when Jesus called Peter to step out of the boat and walk on the water, he was able to do so. When the winds around him distracted him, he began to sink. His simple words of “Lord, save me!” were all that were needed. I have to keep reminding myself, “it’s me, that needs to change…not you, Lord.”
Mediation is focusing on a particular object, thought or activity. The term Lectio Divina is the practice of reading scripture, meditating on a word or phrase that stands out to you, praying on it and then contemplating it in your Christian walk.
I share quite often my favorite song, Great is Thy Faithfulness, but this morning, I’d like to share the verses in Lamentations that David quotes in the Psalms.
But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning:
great is thy faithfulness.
You can practice on this verse. Read the verse out loud. Meditate on what you just read. What word or two really stands out in your mind. Pray about why God led you to those particular words and contemplate where He might be calling you to use them in your daily walk with him.
As you go throughout your daily study of God’s word, use Lectio Divina to help you focus in on God’s will and his direction.
The other thing that I find that I really need to hear God through all of this is silence. The older I get, the harder I find it to really concentrate if there is the least bit of distraction. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said:
“We need to find God and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees and flowers and grass—grow in silence. See the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life.”
One way I have of quieting my mind is through praying the rosary. I find that the more I do so, the easier it is for me to be able to prayer for intentions while I’m praying the decades. I often ask Mother Mary to walk with me while I’m praying so that with her at my side, I may walk closer with her son, our Lord.
There is no one way to find God’s will for your life…but you do have to be deliberate in your efforts. God will not reach down and turn you, like a chess piece. But He will guide you if you will align your will to his.
Find time…make time to be alone with God today. God bless!