I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
Rank me with whom you will;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering;
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you or brought low for you;
Let me be full, let me be empty,
Let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
I like this prayer. It’s beautiful. It’s sublime. It’s noble.
It’s not mine!! It’s not something I pray. And nor do I intend to pray it.
* * *
Put me to what you will. Rank me with whom you will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you. Exalted for you or brought low for you. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
That’s, of course, understood in my relationship with Jesus. That I will love him, and do my utmost to have my heart filled with joy and praise and happiness and peace if I am put to things I did not choose, ranked lower than I would have wanted, put to suffering or laid aside, emptied and left with nothing.
I am not saying it would be easy, but, as far as I know myself, I think I would love God whatever, follow Christ whatever. What’s the alternative? Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life.
* * *
The Methodist Covenant Prayer was written in more fatalistic times, with a high expectation of infant mortality, of men dying young, of poverty descending in old age. It’s a bit too resigned and fatalistic for me.
And, while the Methodist Covenant Prayer is understood, of course, in one’s relationship with God, Jesus taught us that our blue sky visions are possible because of him.
I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20)
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7)
Greater works than these you will do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)
· * *
So that’s another way of living a Christian life, of striving to live the wild dreams which God has placed in one’s heart, of trying to live in a brilliant, techni-colour world of colour and possibility and adventure and joy and variety (like the wild natural world God designed). Living in an exciting, dreams-coming-true world which an indulgent Papa is delighted to share with you, while accepting, of course, that should all the dire things the Methodist Covenant Prayer envisions happen to, you will still accept them as discipline from your Father’s hand.
Anita Mathias says
Thank you, Pastor Mack and LA. If I trusted the goodness and wisdom of God as much as I should (and as much as John Wesley who wrote the prayer?? did) I should be able to say it without blinking an eyelash.
My fears are revelatory!!
Pastor Mack, I agree and believe that all too often we ascribe to God things that happen in order to gain meaning that isn't always there. I do think that we have something to learn from every encounter, even the ones that hurt or infuriate us. But to me the prayer is disconnecting our imperfect lives from a faith filled life. That belief in God and faith are not directly related to the amount of suffering or joy…He's there no matter what. It does do a bit too much of “God made me suffer” kind of ascription, but I can relate that to the time in which it was written.
I'm not sure that the prayer asking for God to “put me” to all manner of things for His sake is the same as thinking that every terrible thing that happens is God's “discipline.” There is such a thing to suffering for the mission of Christ, but that is not identifiable with suffering as such. Sometimes suffering just is, and has no greater cause or purpose. God can redeem it and use it and be present in it, but that doesn't mean He sent it.
Glad you highlighted the prayer though. It's part of a larger service that is great to do at the first of the year.
Anita Mathias says
Thanks both. What interesting and diverse perspectives.
I clearly have a lot more thinking to do on this 🙂
Leanne Bell says
It is so interesting to see the different perspectives people bring to prayer, isn't it? I didn't read the Methodist Covenant like that at all. I read it as something joyful in its complete and utter surrender to God. A prayer of someone who has truly taken that final leap of faith and let go of the safety rope – that step of complete and unconditional trust in God. I got to the end and felt uplifted and peaceful and hopeful that such utter devotion can be achieved! Maybe I am just a bit soppy!
I have to disagree a bit here. I'm not a fatalist, but the blue-sky thing sounds a bit too Prosperity Gospel for me. Here in America, there is a trend amongst some preachers to indulge in the Prosperity Gospel where the amount of “blue sky” in your life is directly related to your level of faith. These preachers actually use the size of their house, the smile on their wife and children's faces and the make/model of their car to prove how much prosperity and therefore how much faith they have.
I find it to be a dangerous road because it creates situations of utter self loathing and despair if people's material wealth or family situation or the number of their dreams coming true is made to be synonymous with their faith in God. I suppose a qualification of what those dreams may be could sway me, but in general, dreams that people have in this world are for a good life here…and that usually involves things strictly of this world. God's gifts are not of this world. Jesus' faith was ultimate and so was the faith of his disciples yet they certainly didn't lead very blue-sky lives.
I think this prayer says exactly what this life is about. That our prosperity here or non-prosperity here has nothing at all to do with our faith nor God's love of us nor His redemptive power. That He comes to us the same whether broken or exalted, first or last. Sorry it sounds very downer, but the people who amaze me and I admire the most are those in my life who have very little blue sky in their lives, do not live out their wildest and most joyous dreams, yet they lead incredible faith filled lives of service to and love of all God's creation. I believe I must surrender *my* wildest dreams to the dreams God has called me to live and not all those dreams lead to blue skies.