During Lent, I prayed the Prayer of Abandon from St. Charles de Foucauld every day. I didn’t plan to do this, but it was the prayer on the daily reflection I was reading and praying with and so I prayed the prayer. Some days I prayed it well and others days, I hurried through, not thinking what it meant to allow God to do with me what he will. On other days, I took my time, praying with intention.
Has anything changed?
Yes. You may not notice it, but I have. There is a need for stillness and rest that recharges me and work that fulfills me. The other day I was tired of sitting and working at my desk. I needed to create, to hold something tangible in my hands. I pulled out the fabric bin, dress patterns and made a dress for myself. It wasn’t rest as some would think of rest, but it recharges me.
I abandoned myself to the task at hand, knowing what I would have when I was done. Which is not the same as when we abandon ourselves to God. That requires a certain amount of suspending our need for a specific or desired outcome. We need to resist taking control.
It is not giving up
I’ve said before this type of surrender or abandon is not a giving up or giving in, it is trusting that God, who is our Father, loves us and wants our good. In this broken world we live in, who is on our life that only wants our good? Think of your parents, spouse, children – yes, they love us and we them, and while we want it to be unconditional in our humanity it is easier to love them when they do what we want, what makes our life a bit easier. I don’t say this as judgment, if I did, I’d be first in line because I know I have this tendency in me.
How do we abandon ourselves to God? I don’t have ‘an answer.’ I have thoughts, though, on how to begin. It begins with prayer. You knew I’d say that, right? We can do nothing on our own; of this, I am certain. Go to God. And admit you are a bit afraid of this notion of abandoning yourself to him and his will and his plans. He is gentle. Begin to notice things you can not react to or react a little less to – the annoying drivers, the way people dress for Mass, the person who prays out of sync from the rest of the congregation, how you must repeat everything at least twice before it gets done by your children, or letting someone tell you the same story over and over because they need to or forgot they told you.
It takes time
The more you can let go of the small things, the more you will be able to let go of the big things. Your children aren’t coming home for the holidays; you were passed over for the promotion at work, or the house deal fell through.
God is right there in all those moments. He is holding you. The “prayer of abandon” is putting yourself in God’s hands. It is not about abandoning yourself to the unknown but trusting that the One who made you knows you so well; his plan is the best.
I am going to continue to pray this prayer every day. Will you join me?.