By Catherine Marshall, from 1960 issue of Guideposts
Why are some agonizingly sincere prayers granted while others are not? Mysteries about prayer are always ahead of present knowledge – luring, beckoning on to further experimentation. It’s a way of prayer that has resulted consistently in a glorious answer, glorious because each time, power beyond human reckoning has been released. This is the Prayer of Relinquishment.
Catherine tells this story of a missionary who had been an invalid for eight years. Constantly she had prayed that God would make her well. Finally, worn out with futile petition, she prayed, All right. I give up. If you want me to be an invalid, that’s your business. Anyway, I want you even more than I want health. You decide. In two weeks she was out of bed, completely well.
The lesson I learned was that a demanding spirit, with self-will as its rudder, blocks prayer. God absolutely refuses to violate our free will; therefore, unless self-will is voluntarily given up, even God cannot move to answered prayer.
The Prayer of Relinquishment says, “This is my situation at the moment. I’ll face the reality of it. But I’ll also accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends.” Acceptance, therefore, never slams the door on hope. Giving up of self-will is the hardest thing we human beings are ever called on to do.
Sometimes the Prayer of Relinquishment requires us give up something or someone we really want. Our pliability must be complete, from our wills right on through to our actions.
At the heart of the secret of answered prayer lies the Law of Relinquishment.