“Our flesh constantly fights surrender to God.” Is this true for you? Do you wish it weren’t? Then you may find this interview with Joe Rayen, a friend of IFI, most helpful.
Some background: Joe Rayen is a long-time friend of Don Hayes, IFI’s Financial Director. Joe volunteers in IFI’s Financial Office and participates in monthly all-staff meetings in Columbus. At all-staff meeting in January, he mentioned praying the Surrender Prayer. Several of us wanted to know more. He emailed me the Prayer that has helped him to grow in submission to the Lord.
Here are some additional choices of prayers of surrender:
Recently Joe agreed to be interviewed about his experiences with praying this Surrender Prayer.
IFI: To begin with, Joe, were you ever an international student?
Joe: Yes, I came to the U.S. in June 1980 to study accounting at Wheeling Jesuit University and completed my CPA. In 1981, I returned to Sri Lanka to get married. I went to work for American Electric Power in May 1982 and transferred to the Head Office (Columbus) in February 1988. That is where I met Don Hayes. (Don and Joe have both retired from AEP.)
IFI: How were you introduced to the Surrender Prayer?
Joe: My sister in West Virginia gave this Prayer to me. I also received this same Prayer from a relative in Sri Lanka.
IFI: What made this Prayer attractive to you?
Joe: We live in a culture that urges us to be independent and self-sufficient, to make “to do” lists, and “just do it!” It can be scary, especially if we don’t know God. Our flesh constantly fights surrender to God, but the Holy Spirit prays with us when we pray. Prayer itself is surrender to God. When we pray the “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4), we say “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” This is surrender to God’s will. Surrender helps me to submit my “to do” lists to God and seek His wisdom, which makes me more at peace with God.
I like to live from my heart, yet so many things tug at my heart. Evil threatens to overpower us. (Look at Solomon!) Therefore, I need God all the time! We need God to keep us humble, to keep us from taking on too much, and to stay yoked to Him. The Surrender Prayer bridges the gap between where I’m focused in the present moment and where God wants me to focus. For me, “coming back, returning to God” in prayer is surrender. Surrender comes through prayer—quiet prayer, silent prayer, listening prayer—getting me to surrender to the point that I can hear God’s “still, small voice,” as Elijah did. Prayer makes me, molds me, and causes me to yield to Him.
IFI: What has happened when you’ve prayed this prayer?
Joe: I’ve found that the fruits of surrender are freedom, joy, and peace. I realize that personal sanctification is more important to God than personal success or self-satisfaction. God says, “Focus on Me, not on your accomplishments.” He is far more interested in what we’re becoming than in what we do.
Sometimes, as children of God, we can unintentionally get in the way of the Lord. “It is like the confusion that children feel when they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then try to take care of those needs themselves so that their childlike efforts get in their mother’s way,” as in Day 2 of the Surrender Prayer.
IFI: Joe, how has this prayer helped you minister to others?
Joe: I don’t want to be conscious of ministering to others. It’s not how we feel about what we do that matters; in fact, the weaker we feel, the better, for our weakness allows God’s power to prevail and God to receive the glory. When we seek God’s heart in ministry, we receive God’s power so that others see the “face of God” through us. This happens when we surrender our “rights,” our talents, our unknown future to our known God. It leads us to trust Him more and live by faith.
In Psalm 139:17-18, the psalmist says “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…” Prayers of surrender help me close the gap between God’s will for me and my human plans. Surrendering in prayer helps me give God my “less than 1%” that I think I bring to ministry and receive His “more than 99.9%” in return.
I am very grateful to God, as He has been very good and merciful to me. I am also grateful to God for blessing me with a good wife and prayer partner, Anastasia. We have been married 35 years. I pray I will always be depending on God, united to His will by living for Him, through Him, and with Him.