Think about surrender.
Defined, surrender means a yielding to, a giving up in favor of another, or giving yourself over to some kind of desire. This is why the synonyms for the word surrender are submission, renunciation, and relinquish. When surrender is thought of in relation to prayer, we can say that prayer takes us to a deeper level of surrender. Meaning that, when we know how great the love of God is toward us in Christ, we will not only trust Him, we’ll surrender our lives entirely to Him.
Tim Keller similarly says, “Meditation is thinking a truth out and then thinking a truth in until its ideas become big and sweet, moving and affecting, and until the reality of God is sensed upon the heart.” In other words, what happens in the believer when God is sensed upon the heart? The heart surrenders to God, yields to Him, and gives up rebelling against Him.
There’s something about this that is very gospel centered.
And that is fitting to point out because Christians are a gospel people and everything in our lives should ultimately come back to, revolve around, and inflame our devotion to the gospel. How does prayer work like this in relation to what we’ve been talking about tonight? It has everything to do with surrender. In Luke 11 we read, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Keller continues on at this point saying, “…there’s never been a parent who desires joy and pleasure and good for their children as much as God. There has never been a parent who desires to hear and answer their children’s heart and requests as much as God. And there has never a parent who desires to shower blessings on their children as much as God.”
This passage not only means these things. It also poses a question: how does God give us joy, how does God hear and answer our heart and requests, how does God shower blessings on us when we deserve the opposite? The answer is the gospel. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, made a request of His Father in Gethsemane and received the serpent and scorpion in return so that all those who believe in Him would never receive the serpent or scorpion. Jesus’ prayers were rejected so that our prayers would be received.
This gospel love, once seen and tasted as sweet and beautiful changes the heart and redirects our prayer away from trying to get God to submit to our requests toward our surrendering to His gracious and wise sovereign plan.