The Power of Paradox: Surrender and Prayer

Asking, Then Letting Go

Some of life’s best results come about through the power of paradox. Consider the solution to escaping from quicksand. When you realize you’re stuck in the sinking sand hole, your first instinct is to thrash your arms and legs to get out. But that strategy only forces your weight to sink further into the pit. The solution to getting out of quicksand is to maneuver slowly into a position that allows you to float on your back, on top of this unusual mixture of sand and water. Surrendering to the situation, rather than reacting in fear, brings forth the desired result.

Action Through Non-Action

In verse 22 of the Tao Te Ching, Lao-tzu explains that if you want to be given everything, then you must give up everything. The Chinese expression “wu wei” describes a non-action way of living through which you accept life, rather than forcing it. In his book Silent Power, Stuart Wilde teaches that non-action requires us to be patient and “wait for things to unfold naturally.”

To be patient, we have to replace fear with faith. Oftentimes when we pray, we have a specific goal in mind that we want spiritual forces to help us achieve. We ask for a certain amount of money to pay for something or for a specific physical illness to be healed.

However, ironically, this sort of directed prayer does not always bring forth the desired results. According to a study reported in Larry Dossey’s book Healing Words, nondirected prayer—meaning an approach to prayer that is more open-ended, without a specific outcome in mind—is more effective. The faith expressed in the style of prayer that says “Thy will be done” or “in the highest good for all” can be frightening at first, because you are saying you will accept whatever God or the Universe gives you. But the paradox is that surrender is actually empowering.

Giving Over, Not Giving Up

Janet Quinn, a nurse who works with people who have AIDS, is quoted in Healing Words as saying that giving up is like saying there’s nothing else to do. The result of giving up is despair. But surrendering is an active choice that results in a higher quality of life, or, in some cases, a higher quality of dying. The result of giving over is peacefulness.

Praying in the spirit of surrender and trust in your spirit guides opens more possibilities for good. As Henri J. M. Nouwen explains in The Path of Waiting, to wait open-endedly allows our lives to be molded “according to God’s love and not according to our fear.”

Sink or Float

It’s easy to get trapped in the quicksand of life, trying hard each day to survive the stressors of work and relationships. To avoid being pulled deeper into the pit, start each day with a prayerful surrender to accept whatever is best, even if what is best might not feel so good at the moment. Simply say whatever words express your willingness to let go and have faith that you will float.

For some, the words, “Thy will be done” work best. For others, a different phrase might feel right, such as, “I accept whatever the world has for me today” or “I begin this day with confidence and faith in whatever happens.” As long as your intention is to faithfully receive rather than fearfully grab, you’ll float peacefully through your life’s journey.

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10 thoughts on “The Power of Paradox: Surrender and Prayer

  1. Yolanda

    What a beautiful reminder of our divinity. Thank you for so eloquently describing how letting go and letting God allows our divine light to guide our journey. Namaste.

  2. Fiona x5178

    I totally understgand the concept of prayer and “letting go,” and the subsequent power contained within doing so. I was plagued with life threatening allergies; I had tried everything, but nothing was working. I was like a female zombie–exhausted, scared, fuzzy brained, hurting all over and the epitomy of the phrase, “dead man walking.” After months of constant prayers for healing one day I heard the softest most beautiful male voice from out of nowhere whisper to me, “surrender.” Once I did I had a spontaneous healing! WHAM. PRESTO. Allergies gone, and symptom free! Prayers are heard, prayer works, and its the safest most powerful thing all of us can do to keep our lives on track. Post script–there’s nothing like a personal experience with the other side to remind us of Who is really in charge, sometimes. The universe is designed in such a way that when we align ourselves with its flowing harmony, good stuff happens.

  3. Faith ext. 9608Faith ext. 9608

    Powerful paradox indeed. Beautifully written article Theresa. This is very true “the paradox is that surrender is actually empowering ~ Giving Over, Not Giving Up”. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and reminding us once again of these truths.

    Blessings, Faith ext. 9608

  4. Astro Lata Sharma

    I do agree that it is best to Pray and then surrender. I have learnt this hard way .Many years back I forced God to fulfill my wish and it was only after sometime I used to realize that my demand was not for my higher good . By and by I learnt to surrender and Now I lead a happy and life full of abundance.


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