I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked the question: what does it mean to surrender to God?
I often think I surrender and yet the grip of fear or worry or control clings to my heart and my life.
I mean, really, how do we surrender to God in all things? The good things and the bad, the difficult things and the scary things, the painful and the sad?
- Surrender in the Bible
- What Does it Mean to Surrender our Lives to God?
- What Does it Mean to Surrender Our Will to God?
- What Does it Mean to Surrender our Things to God?
- Biblical Examples of Surrendering to God
- How Did Jesus Surrender to God?
- How to Give it to God and Let it Go
- What Does Surrendering to God Look Like?
- Prayer: Surrender to God
- How Do I Surrender to God Bible Verses
Surrender in the Bible
Surrender is defined as to “cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” (Oxford Languages)
Scripture doesn’t use the word surrender in the way that we do. In the Bible “surrender” is solely used to talk about literal surrender (i.e. in war).
But over and over we see Scriptures that lead us to the surrender that God calls us to:
- Deny yourselves (Luke 9:23)
- Come to me (Matthew 11:28)
- Subject yourselves (James 4:7)
- Give me your heart (Proverbs 23:26)
- Renounce all we have (Luke 14:33)
- We must decrease while God increases (1 John 3:30)
- Humble yourselves (James 4:10)
Surrender is all throughout Scripture. We see Abraham step out in faith to surrender his son just as God surrendered Jesus Christ for us. We see John the Baptist surrender and commit to becoming less as Jesus now becomes more.
It is clear in Scripture that we are to submit to God just as in the standard definition of surrender.
Let’s look at some specific areas of surrender to God throughout Scripture.
What Does it Mean to Surrender our Lives to God?
The very first step of surrendering to God is giving God our heart in salvation.
That if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. -Romans 10:9
It may not sound like much, but to truly believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and to confess that with your mouth is a great act of surrender.
We have to come to a place of total surrender and submission in order to do this. But there is powerful freedom in this.
Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don’t be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. -Galatians 5:1
In surrendering our lives and hearts to Christ, we gain freedom from sin, freedom from fear and so much more.
What Does it Mean to Surrender Our Will to God?
What does it mean to surrender to God in our will?
We all have things we want and things we believe we need. These things may even be good things.
And yet, to truly surrender to God in our will, we must commit all of our ways to Him.
God can work in ways that we don’t quite understand. He can direct us and guide us in ways that we don’t expect.
So how do we surrender our wills?
Commit your deeds to the Lord, and your plans shall succeed. -Proverbs 16:3
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:6
Commit our ways – give them to the Lord in prayer and surrender before stepping forward. Take time to pray and discern. Ask God for wisdom in all of your steps.
Acknowledge him is also translated as “know him” in all your ways. To know God in each of your steps and ways is a powerful depiction of intimacy.
When we take time to pray and come to God in all of our ways, we begin to know Him in them.
What Does it Mean to Surrender our Things to God?
Do we hold too tightly to our things, our possessions?
I know I can get stuck in the mindset that I need a certain amount of xyz to be okay. Whether it is clothing, toys for my kids, decorations in my house, quality furniture or products, etc, I can often feel like I need something to thrive.
I have been very convicted to steer my family towards more natural living, clean products and pure foods. And yet, I can cross the line of holding too tightly to the importance of that. God can nourish my family through whatever means he provides us.
I don’t need anything at all to do the will of God because He will sustain me and provide all that I need.
Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. -Philippians 4:1
So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple. -Luke 14:33
Whether we have all we need or are in need, we are called to contentment.
And if we trust that God will meet all our needs (we can pray for God to grow this trust in us and open our eyes to the ways that He is providing), then we can truly surrender our things to God.
Biblical Examples of Surrendering to God
Abraham steps out in faith to surrender his one and only son.
It is a heart-wrenching story. It is a powerful story.
Abraham is asked to sacrifice (literally sacrifice) his one and only son, born to him in his old age.
And Abraham obeys the Lord. He walks his son up the mountain with everything required to make a burnt offering except the sacrifice. God has asked him to sacrifice his son on the altar.
And just as Abraham is about to do what any parent cannot imagine doing, an angel calls to Abraham:
He said, “Don’t lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” -Genesis 22:12
Can you picture any greater surrender than this? An exact representation of the sacrifice God made for us in Jesus Christ’s death.
Abraham was fully surrendered to the Lord in being willing to obey God even to sacrifice his own son.
John was willing to surrender his authority amongst his followers to that of Jesus Christ’s.
John had disciples. People listened to him, respected him and followed him.
But when Jesus came, John’s followers questioned the impact it would have on John’s ministry.
And John’s answer can be summed up in this verse:
He must increase, but I must decrease. -John 3:30
Total submission to the true authority of Christ. John knew he had a purpose and that his purpose was to point to Christ.
And so he surrendered all to Jesus, knowing that in subjecting himself to Jesus, he was subjecting himself to God.
How Did Jesus Surrender to God?
Jesus lived a life of total surrender to the Lord.
All that he did was what God directed him to do.
I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me. -John 5:30
He surrendered to God even in the things he did not want to face. He asked God to take away the trial he was in the midst of facing.
And yet, in this, He was committed to the Lord’s will above all.
He went forward a little, fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; nevertheless, not what I desire, but what you desire.” -Matthew 26:39
Jesus surrendered his life to the Lord (and can I mention he did this for you and me?). He committed his very spirit to God as his body died on that cross.
This is the ultimate act of surrender.
Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Having said this, he breathed his last. -Luke 23:46
And it is because his ultimate surrender, you and I can come to the Lord and find His peace, His joy, His redemption right where we are. Praise God!
How to Give it to God and Let it Go
We are called to cast all of our cares on the Lord. But to truly give it to God and let it go takes persistence and commitment.
Casting all your worries on him, because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:7
As you learn and grow in trust that God is sovereign and working in each and every moment and season, you can begin to let go of the things you hold tightly to.
Pray for God to help you in this. There is freedom and peace in this sort of surrender.
Find Scriptures that remind you of His sovereignty and goodness and remind yourself of ways in which He has been in your life.
What Does Surrendering to God Look Like?
What does it practically look like to surrender to God? Here are some things that you can do to get to that place of surrender.
Start with Prayer
Pray for a heart of surrender. Pray to actually surrender (even if you don’t feel your heart behind it). In prayer, God will bless this act of faith and in time you will begin to feel surrendered.
Spend time in Worship
Worship is powerful. Whether you worship through music or in some other way (i.e. in nature), spend time in awe of the power of the Lord and the way in which He works.
Here are two great worship songs that can help you in surrendering to His Almighty power.
The Word of God is our weapon against the enemy. It has the power to extinguish the attacks of Satan as we use it in faith.
Find Bible verses about surrender (there is a list below) and write them down. Find verses that encourage you in your current season and proclaim these, memorize them and saturate your life with them.
Your brain changes as you write. There is power in journaling and writing down your thoughts, your fears, what is holding you back and writing down your commitment to surrender.
It can help you to process the things that are holding you back. And it can help you to more fully commit to surrender.
Truly surrendering to God is a process. And we are called to be in community and fellowship as we grow in faith. Find someone who can encourage you and check in along the way.
Speak it, Over and Over
Our words have power. Especially as we speak Scripture. Proclaim your surrender out loud every day.
This will retrain your heart from one of holding too tightly to one of surrender.
Prayer: Surrender to God
Lord, I commit my heart to You today.
I open my hands before You and release the grip on my life, my things, my will and my actions. I proclaim that You are good and You are sovereign.
I choose to trust Your ways above my own today.
I commit my day to You, may all that I do be done for You. I commit my family to You, I trust that You are at work in each of them and I ask that You would have your hand of protection over them.
I surrender fully to You right now in this moment. If there are any areas of my life or my heart that I am holding too tightly to, reveal those to me and increase my faith as I learn to surrender.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
How Do I Surrender to God Bible Verses
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
My son, give me your heart; and let your eyes keep in my ways.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple.
He said to all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
1 Corinthians 15:31
I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Commit your deeds to the Lord, and your plans shall succeed.
Into your hand I commend my spirit. You redeem me, Lord, God of truth.
What does it mean to surrender to God? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are in the comments below!