As I think of prayer & surrender two pictures come to mind, the Stone Mason and the Potter. Have you ever watched a stone mason turn a stone block into a work of art? It is a process of careful intention by both heavy and gentle blows and by scraps to form a beautiful object. It is an aggressive process on the stone that is rigid, resistant and unbending, but the master mason slogs away until the desired outcome is realised. I am reminded of 1 Peter 4-5, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (NIV)
The other picture is of a potter at his wheel with a lump of clay. As the wheel spins, the clay within the master’s wet hands is moulded into something useful. The clay is soft, pliable and does not resist the masters touch. Isaiah 64:8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (NIV)
Where can I see the journey of prayer in these two pictures?
Mistakenly we come to the journey of prayer at times with an attitude of wanting to change the world around us with little understanding that we ourselves are part of that world that needs changing. It is to look at the key characters in scriptures seeing the difference they made without seeing the change that happened in their own lives. Joseph when he came to prominence at the age of 30 in Egypt was no longer the spoilt child of 17, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. (Genesis 37)
Discipleship is a journey of change, maybe at times it is feeling the hard blows of the chisel and hammer or the heat of the furnace of the potter’s kiln as the trials of life confront us. It is in these moments that we often cry out to God to intervene or to help us find a way out, and in those moments God may appear quite unresponsive to our immediate pleas. We can empathise with the disciples on the boat in the storm, Mark 4:38, “don’t you care if we drown” NIV. The development of the nature of prayer is the surrender and trust that says yes, I know that you care Lord, even though I do not understand what your plans are. It is to say as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 (NIV) This is prayer/surrender.
I have seen the work of the Mason at the stage when much has happened but still there is no clarity concerning the end product. But the master sees the final piece even before he placed a chisel upon it. I think of Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” NIV
I should note that we all need those that stand with us in prayer, in acts of compassion and in wise counsel as we face the hard knocks of life. For through the prayers and counsel we may find that we need to remove ourselves from those unhealthy situations.
At the other end of the scale there is the temptation to run when we need to hang in there. The journey of prayer can guide us in knowing the path to take, even if that path is just to stay put, to preserve and to grow through the process.
Saying yes to God is not easy when the yes requires sacrifice and surrender. This brings us to the second picture, the Potter. It is to say yes submitting to the potter as a lump of clay on the potter’s wheel, as his hands take a hold of us, moulding us into the people that he wants to be.
Prayer is a journey with God, that in part affects us, in maybe the chiselling away of our misguided aspirations and ideas through the process of seeking His will above our own, that is at its heart surrender. For we long to be transformed a stone before the master Mason or as a lump of clay in the potter’s hands, which can only happen as we journey into a life of prayer that has at its heart an attitude of surrender.
O’ God transform our world, O’ God here am I, transform me.
Rev. Rex E Rigby