Covenant Prayer Lenten Devotional: Week 3

Posted by Margo Leavitt on

Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will
Put me to doing, put me to suffering

The story of Jonah comes to my mind as I meditate on these lines. This is one of those stories that gets put away in the back of my brain with campfire songs and nursery rhymes. It’s easy to give the man a hard time for his mistakes - no surprise when his story is often told in a comedic tone. Can this story, often reserved for Sunday School, approach the spiritual complexity of the prayer we’re dwelling on? Yes! Dive a bit deeper into the story (excuse my pun) and I think we all have a bit of Jonah in us.

I believe that each of us truly desires to embody the spirit of the Wesley Covenant Prayer, which is a fitting response to God’s grace in our lives. Wholehearted surrender has so much promised in return, and it’s an amazing experience. But honestly, it makes me squirm a bit; I don’t particularly love the line about suffering. I can very quickly make a list of places I don’t really want God to place me, whether for my growth or others’ redemption. What better example of this than the story of Jonah?

Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will

Put me to doing, put me to suffering

Which of these scares you? Which are hard to obey?

We all know what it’s like to end up in the proverbial “belly of the whale”. No matter how literally you interpret the story, it doesn’t take an expert to imagine that Jonah didn’t enjoy the stormy boat ride or being swallowed by a fish. The season of Lent and the Covenant Prayer both offer us a chance to surrender again to God’s path. The story doesn’t end without grace for both Jonah and the people of Nineveh he was sent to in the first place, and there is enough for each of us in our stories too.

I can experience the mercy of God each time I stray, but his desire for our complete surrender remains. This is where we’re commanded to grow. Those who know me know that I am stubborn… obedience is not in my nature. Put simply, it’s hard. This bit of wisdom from Oswald Chambers sheds light on why, and knowing why makes the how a bit easier:

“As long as I dwell on my own qualities and traits and think about what I am suited for,
I will never hear the call of God.”

“God never coerces us. Sometimes we wish He would make us be obedient, and at other times we wish He would leave us alone. Whenever God’s will is in complete control, He removes all pressure. And when we deliberately choose to obey Him, He will reach to the remotest star and to the ends of the earth to assist us with all of His almighty power.” (Oswald Chambers)

This Lenten season, God offers us a new start and asks again for our total surrender as we pray this prayer.