What might the Methodist Covenant Prayer mean to you this new year?
Numerous church communities have recently chosen to pray this prayer together. In doing so we celebrate our relationship with God and affirm that we give over our day to day lives and choices to him.
The words of the prayer are deeply committal and indeed challenging – every line requires us to give ourselves over completely. It is not easy to let go of our personal wants and desires, of our present and future plans. Yet through these words we surrender ourselves to God, and deny ourselves too.
Jesus said “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
This prayer at the start of a new year invites us to go on a journey with God and each other. One which involves learning to loosen our grip on our lives and those things that separate us from God. We will learn to surrender to him instead with love and joy. Can we yield to him wherever we find ourselves- place or circumstance, in love, joy, hope and humility?
We could say this prayer with good intent and discard it the next moment to quickly continue with our lives. But these words of prayer are the journey of a disciple, involving being and doing. It is when we rely on God’s strength in us that we can truly be a part of Christ’s mission and restoration project in our communities.
When we let go and let God we are liberated from what it is that binds us. In walking with his strength, we are freed up and equipped to shed light and act on injustice and oppression in our neighbourhoods.
This journey of faith with Christ involves travelling together as one body. The words of the covenant are expressed as “I” though we do not say them alone but together. During the journey we support and care for one another- Can you do this Jesus way of life on your own?
The Covenant prayer reminds us of what life as a disciple looks like, and what it is to love God and our neighbour as ourselves. We are reminded that this means seeking to lovingly serve God and our community.
The covenant prayer is a declaration to live as a committed family of God and to reflect him in how we serve. We promise to enter Jesus’ mission as his disciples and representatives in our communities. This prayer describes Jesus’ missional life of love drenched self-giving and emptying that we are to live out today.
I read these words now once again and reflect. Can I truly promise this? Can I commit to trusting God so completely? I do know that it is only in community with God and others that we can try to live and love this way- a community centred on Jesus, his life and mission.
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 now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
The Methodist Covenant Prayer