Pray: Surrender and Ask

Writer: Megan Shuhart 

Big Idea: Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done, Give us today our daily bread. 

My greatest struggle in prayer (though distraction is a close second) is cynicism. Even if my prayer is answered I sometimes think, “Well, that would have happened anyway.” If Satan can’t stop us from praying, he’ll try and dull our soul through cynicism. Cynicism is a lack of surrender. Cynical is being distant, opposite of intimacy. C.S. Lewis, “Those who will never be fooled can never be delighted.” Jesus didn’t pray out of obligation but out of a trusting relationship with His Father. Sometimes we spiritualize “Your Kingdom Come” to the point of distancing God from our world. Sometimes we miss out on God’s Kingdom in others around me, in me right now, and the world as it currently is. However, God is capable and willing to change others. God is capable and willing to change me. God is capable and willing to change the world. Your will be done: Self-will vs God’s will. As parents, until we are convinced that we can’t change our child’s heart, we will not take prayer seriously. Prayer involves surrendering (even our cynicism) and trusting our Shepherd who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death.  

Key Passages: Matt 6:10-11, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:6, Matt 10:16-17, Lk 8:50  

As a child I was taught to pray. Every night, before bed, the same prayer. “Heavenly Father up above, hear me when I pray. Bless my home and those I love. Guide me every day.” At the end of the scripted prayer I would then add my list of requests. “Please let my parents buy me a new bike”. “Please help me with my math test tomorrow”. As I grew older “Please help me get into this college.” “Please help me ace the interview and get this job.” This was my praying life for forty years. I approached God as though I had it all figured out. I knew where I was going, how I was going to get there and what I needed. The truth is, I treated prayer as though it gave me an extra dose of luck. I was fairly certain what I was praying for would come to be. Not because my Heavenly Father would make it so, but because I was going to make it happen. Asking God for help was just a way to make sure I covered all my bases. It seemed to work for quite a long time. Until it didn’t. 

In what felt like a flash, my life fell apart. I lost my marriage, became a single parent of three boys, needed to get a new job and recover from several betrayals. My heart was shattered, I couldn’t make sense of what happened to my life. How could this happen? I had it all planned out. Everything was working according to plan. The question to God “Why?”. Without the strength to ask anything more it was simply “Why?”. Out on a run one day, it finally hit me, I was not in control. God had a plan for my life, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(Jeremiah 29:11) The answer was clear – I needed to surrender. Completely. Totally. And that included my prayers. 

In Psalm 23 we see David describe who our Father is, how He guides us and His will for our lives. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23: 1-4) His will for us far surpasses our will for our own lives. We want wonderful lives for ourselves, our family and our friends. And even with the best intentions, prayer that comes from our will for our lives, will always come up short. We are finite – unable to see the big picture no matter how hard we try. Only God can. Only God can guide us beyond the problem we’re facing. God sees it all and sees is beyond any one situation. He knows what’s best for our lives and wants to release this into our livesthrough prayer. 

When we pray from our perspective, asking God for the outcome we desire, we’re seeking our will to be done. In turn, we set ourselves up for disappointment by believing that not getting what we asked for means prayer doesn’t work or God doesn’t care. We also confine God to that one request, that one moment, not understanding that there are times when God answers a prayer with a No. Not that He doesn’t love us, didn’t hear us or didn’t answer us, but becauseHis plans are greater than ours. God longs to bless us, guide us and release His power and will inour lives. When we approach God in prayer, seeking His will, surrendering to our perfect Shepherd, we will find comfort, rest, peace, and blessings greater than we could have everimagined. 

Sharing Life: 

  • If anyone is new, start here, if not go to question 2: 
  • When/how did you become aware of God’s love?  
  • Who were the people who played a key role in your spiritual journey? How? 
  • What are 2/3 key moments in your relationship with God? 
  • Take a moment to ask questions
  • What has been your experience of prayer? 
  • How have you experienced God’s answering prayer? How does that impact or shape your understanding of prayer? 
  • As we go through this series on prayer – keep a journal on what God is teaching you and be prepared to share each week. What did God teach/reveal to you this week? How is God encouraging you to pray? 

Opening Scripture:  

Read Psalm 23 

  • How do you approach prayer? Do you find yourself looking for God to take your direction or convince Him why your prayer should be answered? 
  • Have you been disappointed by unanswered prayer? Reflect on that time. Can you see God’s hand in why the prayer was unanswered? If you see the blessing, pause and thank Him. If there is unresolved confusion or hurt, pray and bring that to Him. He longs to take the pain and bring you comfort. 
  • What are the attributes of God as shown through a shepherd?  
  • As our Shepherd, what does God ask of His flock?  
  • What situation are you facing now where you need prayer? As you look to your Shepherd, how might you open this prayer to seek His will for the situation? 

Read Philippians 4:6 

  • What worries can you surrender to God in prayer? 

Choose a few verses to memorize from Psalm 23. Recite them in your daily prayer as a reminder of what our Father provides when we surrender and allow His Kingdom to come and His will to be done in our daily lives.   

Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other. Consider using the prayer in the prayer guide

Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray that God would help you release your expectations and trust that He’s going act for your good.