Prayers of Commitment

by Elmer Towns

After years of praying and attempting to always be ethical in his business dealings, a Christian man found that his business was failing. As he filed the papers for bankruptcy, he was deeply perplexed and complained to God about his situation. "Lord," he said, "I ask Your blessing each day. I try to be a Christian testimony to all people. I have attempted to run my business according to biblical practices. Why did it fail?" It was then that the Lord showed the man that he had never committed the business to God.

We may own a Christian business or ministry, follow biblical principles and pray daily for success, but if we don't commit our efforts to God, that business or ministry belongs to us and not to God. Until we commit the things for which we are praying to God, we may never understand the hold that those things possess over our lives.

When we say the prayer of commitment, we surrender all of our needs and everything for which we are praying to God. If we need money, we pray, "Lord, I need some funds right now, but if not, I will take the consequences." If we are sick, we pray, "Lord, I want You to heal me, but if not, I will live with my infirmity." If we encounter a crisis, we pray, "Lord, I need Your deliverance, but if not, I will still trust in You."

In the Bible, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were about to be thrown into a burning furnace because they refused to bow to a 90-foot idol of Nebuchadnezzar, they told the king, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnacebut if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods" (Dan. 3:17-18). The three Hebrews believed that God would deliver them, but if God chose not to save them, they were ready to die rather than bow down to an image of gold. They committed themselves to God and removed their hands from their effort.

Praying Reservedly

One way that we can commit our needs to God is by praying reservedly. When we pray in this manner, we're not sure what God will do. In faith, we believe in God, yield ourselves to whatever answer God gives us in response, and accept the consequences if God doesn't answer.

In the Bible, Martha encountered a situation in which all that she could do was pray reservedly. When her brother, Lazarus, grew desperately ill, she and her sister immediately sent word for Jesus to come to their home in Bethany. But Jesus waited four days before making the journey. He waited just long enough for Lazarus to die.

Martha was frustrated, hopeless, and completely boxed up in a dead-end street. She was the model housekeeper who had everything under control-everything, that is, except death. She tried to control the situation when Lazarus got sick by calling on Jesus for help, but when Christ didn't come as planned, she realized that there was nothing she could do to save her brother. Death ends it all-it's God's final statement to all perfectionists like Martha that they can't control the day of their death.

When Jesus finally arrived, Martha-the control freak-could hardly contain her irritation. "Lord," she said, "if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21). But then, Martha, realizing that there was nothing else for her to do, committed her circumstances to the Lord and simply said reservedly, "But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You" (v. 22). All that Martha could do was commit her needs to God and say, "Your will be done."

Esther experienced a similar situation when she faced the possible holocaust of the entire Jewish nation. When her cousin Mordecai compelled her to go before the king of Persia to plead the Jews cause-despite the fact that it could result in her death-Esther told her cousin, "Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king which [is] against the law; and if I perish, I perish" (Esth. 4:16).

Seeing the Mountain

The problem with commitment is that often we think we know better than God. We pray for money and ask God to give us something we "absolutely" need, when in actuality God never intended for us to have that item. We pray for healing from our sicknesses, when in fact we may better glorify God through our ill health and suffering. So the next time we beg God for an answer or boldly "demand" an answer from God, we need to remember to first commit our prayer requests to God.

Everything in prayer comes down to simple faith. We must trust God to answer when we ask, but we must not lose faith when it seems as if God does not answer. If we can't commit our prayer requests to God, then we really haven't trusted God for the right answer.

A woman interceded daily for her unsaved children and spouse and begged God to save them. But nothing happened. When one of her children married and had kids, she prayed for God to bring salvation to her grandchildren. But again nothing happened. She left tracts, Christian CDs and Bibles in his children's homes. She subscribed to Christian magazines and constantly invited her family to Christian functions-all to no avail.

But neither had she ever committed them to God. When she finally symbolically took her hands away from the situation and prayed, "Lord, I commit my children and grandchildren to You. They are Yours. You love them more than I do. I trust You to work Your perfect will in their hearts. I trust Your plan for their lives"-in less than two years, all of the woman's children were saved, and her grandchildren were under Christian influence.

But what about those situations in which things seems to get worse instead of better when we make a committal prayer? Well, oftentimes praying for a project is similar to climbing a mountain. We are so close to the mountain that we can't see it clearly. We get so involved in our projects that we lose sight of the top of the mountain-God's purpose-because we're struggling with the rocky ledge that's immediately in front of us. God is bigger than the "mountains" in our lives. We must commit our prayer projects to Him in perfect trust and allow His will to be done.

The worst thing that we could do after making a prayer of committal is to reach out to take our requests out of God's hands. When we do that, we are once again trying to manipulate things for our own plan or glory.

Commitment to God's Purposes

In Psalm 37:5, David writes, "Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." Notice that this verse does not imply that God will bring ouranswer to pass, but rather His purposeto pass. God always has a purpose, but it does not always necessarily match our requests. However, because God can always see the "top of the mountain" when we are focused on the "ledges" before us, His purpose will always represent the very best for our lives. And God shall bring His purpose to pass, so we might as well back off and allow Him to accomplish what He intends to do.

Maybe your Christian life has been a struggle because you haven't committed everything in your life to Him. Do so now. Maybe you have doubts about the Bible, your salvation, or the existence of God because you've never committed everything to Him. Do so now. Or maybe you are fearful about the future and worry that you will not be able to provide for your family-let go of your concern and commit your life and your family to God.

First Peter 4:19 states, "Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator." When we commit everything to God, we no longer have to worry about anything. We can rest assured in the fact that we serve a loving God who will never leave us or forsake us. We can be secure in the knowledge that the God of the Ages can handle any situation and that He will take care of us.

Elmer Towns is dean of the School of Religion at Liberty University. He is the author of a number of books,
including What Every Sunday School Teacher Should Know, 2002, Regal Books.

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