Surrendering to God is a crucial part to growing as a Christian. If we aren’t willing to surrender to our Creator, then true spiritual growth is pretty much impossible. Because without recognizing His power and yielding to His will, how can we expect to get closer to Him? How can we expect to learn His ways? How can we expect to experience His supernatural hand in our lives when we are in a constant battle against Him?
God is for us, not against us. So surrendering to Him is for our good. True, it doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes God allows certain things to happen in our lives that puzzle us. But everything He allows to happen is for pruning, teaching, and refining. There is always a good purpose behind the things that He does and allows.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?Romans 8:31
When we are not in a state of surrender, we might miss the opportunity to learn what He is trying to teach us. We might miss the opportunity to grow.
When we choose not to surrender to God, we are essentially resisting Him and refusing to submit to His authority. And by doing this, we are doing ourselves a major disservice. We are basically telling God we don’t need Him, and that we can do a better job.
What Does it Mean to Surrender to God?
So, what does it mean to surrender to God? Well, the first thing we should probably do is look at some verses about surrendering to God.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.James 4:7
In this verse, we are told to submit ourselves to God. The word submit is a synonym for surrender. So by surrendering to God, you are submitting to Him; submitting to His will and power. Resisting Satan is another way we can submit or surrender to God. By choosing God over Satan or our own sinful nature, we are choosing to submit to the Father.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Romans 12:1
In this verse, Paul urges his brothers and sisters in Christ to offer their bodies as living sacrifices; to live in such a way that pleases God. To surrender and forfeit using our bodies for our own purposes, and to instead choose to do what is holy and acceptable to God.
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.Mathew 26:39
Jesus surrendering to God is probably the most profound example we have of surrender. Completely acknowledging the power and authority of God, he fell before Him, petitioning to Him with hope that God would change the outcome of what was to come. Jesus knew that only God had the power to change what was to come. And even after Jesus finished His petition, He prayed for God’s will to prevail.
These are some powerful verses demonstrating what it means to surrender to God. But there are also some really good examples in the Bible of men and women surrendering to God.
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Bible Stories About Surrendering to God
Let’s look at a couple of Biblical characters who surrendered to God and what happened as a result.
The first example that pops in my head is actually Jonah, who we all know did not surrender to God immediately. Jonah Chapter 1 says “The word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai: ‘Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because their evil has come up before me’. Jonah got up to flee to Tashish from the Lord’s presence.”
Jonah was like nope, not doing it! And instead of obeying God, he fled from God. Let’s not even talk about how silly it is to think you can flee from God’s presence.
Jonah is actually a great example of what refusing to surrender to God can look like. Because of Jonah’s rebellion and disobedience, God had him swallowed up by a big fish. Can you even imagine? God was not playing around.
So Jonah prayed from within the belly of this big fish, and God saved Him. So the second time God told Jonah what to do, he did it. He went and warned the people of Nineveh. And the best part is the people of Nineveh surrendered immediately.
Jonah 3:5-6 says “Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth — from the greatest to the least. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, covered himself in sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he issued a decree in Nineveh.”
And essentially the decree called for all the people of Nineveah to call out earnestly to God and turn from their evil ways.
And you know what happened after they did this? Jonah 3:10 says “God saw their actions — that they had turned from their evil ways — so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it”.
That’s the power of surrender!
The second Bible character worth noting who truly surrendered to God was King Hezekiah. After years of Israel being ruled by kings who led them to do evil in the sight of the Lord, Hezekiah gets on the throne and surrenders it all to the Lord.
In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the Lord’s temple and repaired them.2 Chronicles 29:3
In his very first month, he sought out to repair God’s temple.
It is in my heart now to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel so that his burning anger may turn away from us.2 Chronicles 29:10
He was determined to make things right with God.
He restored the temple to the holy dwelling place it was intended to be, ordering the Levites to remove anything impure from God’s temple. He led his people to turn back to God, to bow down and worship the one and only God. He pleaded with the Israelites to return to God, telling them not to be like their ancestors who were unfaithful to God.
Don’t become obstinate now like your ancestors did. Give your allegiance to the Lord, and come to his sanctuary that he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God so that he may turn his burning anger away from you, for when you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will receive mercy in the presence of their captors and will return to this land.2 Chronicles 30:8-9
I can go on and on about King Hezekiah and how he led his people to truly turn back to God and surrender to Him. This story is a great example of how we are to surrender in our own lives.
So, with all that being said, what does it mean to surrender to God?
- It means to obey God.
- It means to give up the impure things.
- It means to praise and worship only God (identify your idols and remove them).
- It means committing to learning His Word (Here is the Apologetics Study Bible that I use).
- It means to give your allegiance (loyalty and commitment) to God.
- It means to acknowledge and honor Him for the holiness that He is.
- It means choosing a life that pleases the one who holds your breath in your lungs.
- It means to submit to His will, and to resist your own selfish, sinful urges.
- It means to always pray for God’s will, even when you desire something different.
- It means fighting distractions hindering you from getting close to God.
- It means committing to knowing who God is, building that relationship, and leaning into the free love that He offers with no resistance.
Why is it So Hard to Surrender to God?
So, if we know that we should surrender, why is it so hard to surrender to God? Why do we often resist the will of God in our lives?
Most of us struggle to surrender to God at some point in our life. Sometimes we can tell God is trying to lead us in another direction, but we stubbornly try to stay our own course. Or, we know that certain choices in our lives are not pleasing to God, but for some reason we keep making those same choices regardless.
And in most cases, I think it boils down to one thing: fear of sacrifice.
Fully surrendering to God oftentimes requires some sort of sacrifice. And if we’re honest, we are afraid to sacrifice things. It can be the sacrifice of certain pleasures in our lives. Or the sacrifice of certain traditions, or mindsets. The sacrifice of letting certain people go, even.
But whatever “sacrifice” we are required to make, we have to believe that it’s not for nothing. God is for us, not against us. And that means He would only ask us to leave certain things behind for our good. In order to grow spiritually, we have to understand that our surrender to God is paramount to how far we want to go, and trust that God has our best interests at heart.
Benefits of surrendering to God
Although our main reason for surrendering to God shouldn’t be the benefits, there are some benefits of surrendering to God; some good things we can expect from our surrender.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that submitting to God will make your life easier and suddenly God will rain down blessings from the sky. That’s just not exactly how it works.
However, I think the biggest benefit of surrendering to God is the peace that comes along with it. When you finally learn how to surrender to God and let go, a weight lifts off of you. You know longer feel like it’s all up to you to figure it out. You’ve surrendered to the Most High, and He will help to shoulder your burdens. He will provide and bless you.
When we surrender to the Father, and allow Him to take lead, we can be confident that our life is in the best hands. God can see ahead the things that are to come. He leads us based on the future that He already sees before us. But every choice we make is based on our limited knowledge.
Isn’t it better to let God lead you when He can see what’s coming your way?
Ultimately, when surrendering to God, you’re submitting to a God who loves you, wants the best for you, and will lead you down the path of righteousness. You can be assured that whatever happens in your life, His hand covers it. And that brings me so much peace.
How to Surrender to God?
Okay, so we’ve talked about what it means to surrender to God, the benefits of surrendering to God, and why it’s difficult to surrender to God. But we haven’t really talked about HOW to surrender to God. Maybe you’re asking yourself, how do I surrender to God practically?
How do we actually make the practical steps to surrender to Him? What does it look like to surrender to God in our daily lives?
The first and simplest way to surrender is really just to tell God that you surrender to His will. Go into prayer, and just lay it all out on the table. Tell God, “Father, I surrender to Your will. I surrender my anxieties, my fears, my problems. I invite you, my Heavenly Father, to take the lead in my life. Help me to be still as you guide me through life’s difficulties.”
A heartfelt and serious prayer to God is definitely the first place to start.
But, there are also some other practical things we can do on a daily basis to really surrender our lives to Him. Because it’s important to put action to our words, to show God that we are serious. It’s easy to say “God I surrender” but then continue with old habits that rebel against God.
9 Ways to Surrender to God
Below are 9 ways that we can surrender to God on a daily basis. These are things we can do to start allowing God to lead our lives and help us grow closer to Him.
- Pray for God to replace your desires with His; to align your will with His will.
- Be ready to submit when the Spirit convicts and leads you to let go of certain choices and lifestyles.
- Stop fighting for sin to stay in your life! Admit to God that you are struggling to let go of sin and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you against the temptation.
- Let go of what you think you know about everything! Ask God to fill you up with His wisdom and truth.
- Hold nothing back from Him. Tell Him exactly how you feel, don’t hold back.
- Stop trying to fight all your battles alone. Release yourself from the burden of doing it all alone and hand it to God in prayer.
- Acknowledge your lack of wisdom and knowledge, and completely believe that you know nothing in comparison to Him.
- Completely acknowledge and know that you can do nothing without Him.
- Let go of habits that are allowing sin to sneak into your life. Surrender your taste in movies, music, books, etc, to God.
Surrendering to God is such an important part to growing spiritually. God wants to pour into us, but if we are too busy resisting Him or holding on to things that He is telling us to let go, how can He fill us up? We have to learn to let go and let God take control of our lives, in both big and small ways.
It is our surrender to Him that sparks the beginning of growth and closeness to God that we crave.
It can be difficult to surrender to God at times, especially when you have your heart set on a certain way of doing things, or a certain perspective. However, if we truly trust that God knows what’s best for us, we will eventually take that leap, and just surrender knowing that we are in the best hands there are.
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