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Charles de Foucauld’s Prayer of Abandonment

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “thy will be done.” We say it but do we mean it? Are we willing to completely set aside our own will to completely abandon ourselves to God’s Will? I would like to use Charles de Foucauld’s “Prayer of Abandonment” to reflect on our willingness to abandon ourselves to God. First I offer the prayer in its entirety followed by a line by line reflection.

Father,
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures
— I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.     

Charles de Foucauld
(as found on https://sistersihmofwichita.org/discernment/discernment-resources/discernment-prayers)

Father
Foucauld begins this prayer by calling God “Father”. It’s one simple word. Everyone has a biological father. Every child should have a good father and have a good relationship with their father. When we call God our Father, we are not praying to God as a distant being who wants us to do things to make him happy. We are not praying to a God who does not care about us. We are praying to God who wants to have a deep relationship with him. God creates us so He can love us and that we may love him in return.

I abandon myself into your hands
We are praying to God who we can trust completely. God’s love for us is absolute. Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Jesus doesn’t just say this. He gives us the perfect example of this when He lays down his life for us on the Cross. Jesus doesn’t want to have to die. In the garden, He prays to God, calling him “Abba” a deep and intimate term, as He says, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Jesus ” humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (see Philippians 2:8 in 2:5-11). Jesus abandoning himself to our Father’s will brings us salvation. We need to follow the example of Jesus to receive the salvation He offers us.

Do with me what you will.
This is easier said than done. We pray “thy will be done” in the Lord’s Prayer but our own will gets in the way. We want what gives us pleasure now. We may make excuses about special circumstances. Sometimes we make a free and deliberate choice to do what we will rather than what God wills. It is not always easy but in faith we need to trust God who knows what is best.

Whatever you may do, I thank you:
Because we believe that God knows what is best, we should always thank him for what He does for us even if it is not what we want. It is important for us to know the stories in the Bible that reveal to us all the times that God has heard the cry of his people in distress and rescued them.

I am ready for all, I accept all.
All…this is where it gets tough for me. I desire to totally trust God and I want to do his will in all things. However, I struggle to think everything that happens is God’s will. I see things like poverty, racism, abuse, and mass shootings and know these are not his will. Here I think of the line in the Serenity Prayer, “taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it” (see my article reflecting on the Serenity Prayer). It is sad but the reality is not everyone does God’s Will.

Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures— I wish no more than this, O Lord.
So, I not only pray that I do God’s Will. I pray that everyone surrenders themselves to do God’s Will. Yet I know I cannot force them. All I can do is offer them God’s Truth, what God says is right and wrong. Then, I must leave it to their choice (see the Parable of the Sentinental (aka watchman) in Ezekiel 3:17-21).

Into your hands I commend my soul
These are not random words. They come from Jesus’ own words as “he breathed his last” on the Cross (Luke 23:46, see also Psalm 31:6). Stephen, the first martyr after Jesus (as well as one of the first deacons) used these words of Jesus as he was stoned to death (Acts 7:59). May we have the heart of Jesus and the same faith as Stephen when we pray (not just say), “into your hands I commend my soul.”

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart
We need to love God with ALL our heart as well as all our mind and soul (see Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus held nothing back when He gave his life for us on the Cross. We need to give God our all.

For I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself
Yes, the prayer says “need to give myself.” We need to give ourselves totally to God for God knows what is best. Look at all the bad things that happen in the world when people do their own will. Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

To surrender myself into your hands without reserve
So, we need to surrender ourselves “without reserve” to God’s Will. This honors the words we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come.” We do not build up the Kingdom of God by doing our own will. We help build the Kingdom of God by surrendering ourselves to God’s Will.

And with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.  
We do so with confidence because of the love that God shows for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).

Our God is an awesome God. We place our trust in him.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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