It’s said that the following prayer was prayed over Henri Nouwen by his spiritual director.

 May all your expectations be frustrated.
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered into nothingness.
That you may experience the powerlessness and the poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son and the Spirit.



I don’t think I like this prayer much. In fact, I think if I asked someone to pray for me and they prayed this prayer I’d probably say, “thanks but no thanks.” Nope, my flesh doesn’t like this prayer at all. Probably because what it’s really about is complete self-abandonment.

Self-abandonment: It’s only when we have surrendered ourselves, our resources, our plans and our expectations that we are free; free to depend completely on Him, free to dance and sing before Him and to love and serve Him no matter the circumstances. 

I have so far to go when it comes to abandoning my will and seeking only after His; when it comes to abandoning my plans, my desires, my expectation and my needs and becoming poor in Spirit. But I know that when I am broken, poor and at the end of myself it is then that I begin to identify with Jesus and His Kingdom.


Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God. Matthew 5:3

In what ways do you need to abandon yourself today, tomorrow and next week so that you can become like a child– poor, weak and completely dependent on Him?


One Response to Ouch!

  1. tinahdee says:

    This reminds me of something I just recently re-read, called “The Deepest Freedom” – here’s a snippet:

    “Our greatest captivity is not to any other person or system; it is to self. And the greater bondage here is not the appetites of the flesh we clearly know are sinful, but the agendas we hold for our own good. Trying to get God to do for me what I think is best has tripped me up far more effectively, than more obvious sins.” ……………………

    “The real joy of being God’s child is waking up everyday with the simple freedom to join God in what he wants. As Jesus said, he is always working, in our lives and in people around us. He wants to share in the delight of that working, as a Father with his son or daughter. There is no greater freedom than to do so without distorting that with false needs and misplaced wants.” ……………………………

    “He doesn’t create your troubles to teach you a lesson, but simply uses the troubles of life in this age to show you his freedom. He just graciously refuses to settle for flawed agendas and continues to fulfill his own in the lives of those who have asked him to do so.

    He doesn’t deny us what we want to frustrate us, but to show us that he knows best about everything. The only way we figure that out is to watch our hard-fought agendas fall to nothing and to see God’s working exceed our greatest expectations.

    This is not an easy process, as I’m sure you already know. When God doesn’t do the things we expect him to, we often wonder if he doesn’t love us, or if we haven’t done enough to earn his favor. Only by knowing that he loves you completely will you ever be able to go through moments of suffering as the weaning process he desires.

    God’s not punishing you, he is fulfilling your hunger at a deeper level.”

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