Week 1 Day 3: Love’s Self-offering

“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
I John 4:9,10

Love’s Self-offering
We don’t have to earn this; this is a love that is given. It’s a reality that, like grace, is both unearned and undeserved.

-Br. Keith Nelson

Transcript: From the First letter of John: “God’s love was revealed among us in this way. God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

When I read and pray with this passage, the first thing that comes to me is that we don’t have to earn this, that this is a love that is given. It’s a reality that, like grace, is both unearned and undeserved. So I think that that’s the first thing that I desire to pray with when I read this passage: the reality that I don’t have to earn this, that this isn’t about something, a list of things, that I have to do in order for God to love me.

There’s a little bit of theology that I love about this verse called “prevenient grace,” the idea that grace not only comes behind us to clean up our mistakes but that it goes before us as well, so even the desire to pray, even the desire to grow in the knowledge and assurance of God’s love is in us because God has prompted that desire in us already. So it [i.e. grace] comes before us, and it goes after us, and it surrounds us on all sides, so it’s not about earning it.

I think the second thing that occurs to me is that we don’t always have to feel it and we’re not always going to feel it consciously, that this is a love that is in fact deeper than our conscious feelings. So that, on any given day, if we don’t feel the love of God, we don’t have to take that as a sign that God doesn’t love us, that we can … Of course the life of our feelings is essential to pay attention to, and God uses our feelings to send us many signs and hints in our lives of prayer, but we don’t have to rely on those feelings necessarily to know and to be assured of a love that transcends our feelings on any given day.

So one prayer practice that you might try is you might come up with a prayer of self-offering, a prayer that offers the wholeness of your self beyond your particular feelings on any given day, beyond your perhaps desire to earn God’s love, and it can just be a prayer that offers your whole self, knowing that grace has prompted you to pray that prayer and that grace will follow upon that prayer after you’ve offered it along with your whole self.

We invite you to share your reflection here >


  1. Dorothy Wilson on 03/17/2018 at 7:43 am

    Every morning I pray, I praise God this day, I give myself to God , I asked God to help me this day.

  2. Mattie on 03/02/2018 at 10:28 pm

    Prevenient Grace

    How awesome is our Heavenly Father. He created us and gave us free will knowing that we would not always to the right things, even after He had told us what to do. That Prevenient Grace is also evidenced in the most precious gift of His Son, Jesus who was choosen before the foundation of the world to be the perfect sacrifice for the imperfect residents of the fallen world. Thank you Lord for loving us so much that you made this ultimate sacrifice.

  3. David John Drew on 02/21/2018 at 8:47 am

    O God, I painfully struggled to come to terms with my life in your light, I was often cast into a desert of desolation, loneliness and emptiness – hungry to feel, taste and sense your existence… to be ultimately satisfied. Yes, I pushed myself forward using only the limited reserves of strength within me, yet always failing, falling short of whatever illusory objective I placed before me… the idols of my imagination, forever running and plunging headlong into my own traps and snares, my energy quickly dissipating and disappearing. All the well-intended actions to which I applied myself became abysmal dead-end conclusions. I stumbled and groped for clarity. I dug a pit for all my errors, I tried to bury them in fits of forgetfulness, but I realized I was creating a tomb for myself devoid of life – creating my own darkness. Finally, I was exhausted, in utter humility and contempt for myself I realized that all my efforts were in vain – that through my self-asserted ambitions to attain you, to possess you as the ultimate prize – to own you as an object as one owns any worldly thing, that you are beyond anything that can be grasped.

    O Lord, you are beyond anything that I can possibly conceive of, greater than all things, more powerful, perfect in love and mercy. You are the essence and creator of everything, only you can reveal yourself and make the unattainable possible in the minds of your devotees. It is not that I try to find you, but that you search, explore and come to dwell in the hearts of your chosen ones. You yourself make the ultimate sacrifice of that which is truly yours for the benefit of all. No action on my part could possibly be enough to compensate for, or redeem my mistakes in the past, never be sufficient to purchase your loving friendship.

    I realize that the path to union with you, the unbreakable bond and consummation of true love can only come through a complete surrender of myself to your will. As you sacrificed yourself without reserve for me, then I must reciprocate that action for you. It was only the sacrifice of yourself through your Son that you could accomplish that for which I yearned – to be reconciled to you in unconditional and infinite love.

    + Amen

    Pax – David

  4. Ruth West on 02/18/2018 at 4:23 am

    Br. Keith, thanks for this thought-provoking message. I have so enjoyed reading the many comments from your many readers and listeners.
    We know that on a cloudy day the sun is still there. It just isn’t visible. In our lives, we, too, have cloudy days but God is always present. I pray that I can always be aware of His presence.
    This week I have read a little book about the seasons. It brought to my mind that the grass, flowers and trees are virtually dead at this time of the year. But, in the spring, life shall appear. The perennials come back; the annuals do not. At my old age, with death a closer reality, I pray that I am a perennial!! Thanks be to God that Lent does not last forever; Easter is coming! Death is a reality, but Resurrection is a certainty!

    • Bishop Hollywood on 02/19/2018 at 9:18 pm

      Good morning. I’m really loving this series and I’m learning alot from it. God reveals his love to us all the time, we may not always feel it, but we know it’s there. How do we know? Well for starters when He allows us to wake up each day, we go about our daily routines, we have food to eat, clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet, a roof over our heads, car to drive or money to take public transportation to and from and not only that when we are kept from hurt, harm and danger. We have to learn to realize that these things aren’t happening by chance but by power and love that’s being bestowed upon us on a daily basis by God.

  5. Vanessa Rose on 02/17/2018 at 11:13 pm

    Thank you Brother I like the reference to Prevenient Grace, which is rooted in Arminian theology and also appears in Catholic theology.. it is a divine grace that preceded human decision. Which to mean means like prayer it is already in place. Prayer as we know starts well before we start to pray, for God plants the seed in our hearts and mind. God’s love is freely given, and we need to be reminded this….Lectio Divina (Praying through the Scriptures has been beneficial for me, along with dedicated meditation before studying the scriptures). Trust is the key and letting go of our emotions and conditional to the outcome…let the Holy Spirit work in all of us.

  6. Jack in B.C. on 02/17/2018 at 10:08 pm

    My prayer of self-offering today:
    Thank you, Lord, that we live by grace alone;
    it is your love, O God, that even prompts me to attempt to pray this prayer of offering.
    Please take me with all my doubts and failings, my weaknesses, my appetites, my vanities, my pride, my folly,
    and make me what you would have me be.
    Even as I pray this prayer, Lord, I feel a bit apprehensive, a little scared;
    help me to trust you;
    help me to trust that you have begun a good work in me, and that you will bring it to completion.

  7. w. Dean Peters on 02/16/2018 at 10:34 pm

    Lord make me an instrument of your peace

    • Mary 85 on 02/17/2018 at 10:12 pm

      LO ❤️VE

      my motto

  8. Annette Fricke on 02/16/2018 at 10:32 pm

    Remembering the words with more meaning today, “The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

  9. James on 02/16/2018 at 9:35 pm

    God’s love and grace are free gifts that we don’t deserve and can never earn.

    We all know the saying “It it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”, is not applicable to God’s love and grace. If we believed it, we would be cutting ourselves off from an unimaginable gift. We need to let our guard down and lift up our whole heart to God’s bountiful grace. We need to stop fighting a battle that’s all ready been won. We must surrender self and take up Christ’s yoke.

    God’s love will never wane, will never waver, and never cease. Let us love God and others as God has loved us.

    “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me”. Galatians 2:20

  10. Mary Anderson on 02/16/2018 at 8:48 pm

    The idea of “prevenient grace” and having grace clean up our mistakes behind us as well as surrounding us in grace as we move forward is amazing. I pray that I can lift up my heart to God during the chaotic times and to give myself to Him when it is the most difficult time to hear and see Him. Lord, have mercy, hear my prayer.

  11. Tamara Schupman on 02/16/2018 at 7:04 pm

    Your comments regarding grace remind me of a Navajo Song: “Now I walk in beauty, beauty is before me, beauty is behind me, above and below me.” Today, I can sing it inserting Grace. Your comments on feelings were also most helpful. I struggle with not “feeling” loved. The prompt to first offer myself to God’s love, which is how Jesus lived, was a wake-up, an ah-ha moment. Why would I rely so much on my feelings, when I have Christ to show me what God’s love is? When I have Christ, who lived a life surrounded in God’s grace, to reconcile me with God’s love? Such a burden lifted this morning. I feel light, and buoyant with grace, and life “feels” more beautiful just now. Thank you.

  12. Jaan Sass on 02/15/2018 at 11:16 pm

    I like the idea of prevenient grace and can see the many times the Lord has carried me despite myself.

    Lord be there when I stumble, Hold me fast when I fall, Draw me closer when I feel miles away, and Guide me forward when I lose my way.

  13. Julie on 02/15/2018 at 10:21 pm

    Prevenient grace. I had never heard of that until this teaching. As I have gotten older, I have become better at seeing and listening to God’s hints or “nudges”, as I like to call them. But seeing them or hearing them is nothing unless acted upon in some way.

    I have, at times, heard answers to a question in my ear, as if God was siting next to me talking. At other times, I’ll take action to make a care all or send a note to someone, only to be told “How did you know that’s just what I needed?” It’s a beautiful experience when it happens.

    I pray today Lord that I may have an increased awareness of you. May I be open to your promptings and graces. Thank you, in advance, for the privilege to be your “love with skin on” today.

  14. Susan Simmons on 02/15/2018 at 7:35 pm

    It is a great comfort to think on God’s grace following and preceding me during this journey of mine in time. I think that it probably has nothing to do with time actually—it is eternal and omnipresent and we, as mortal humans perceive it as in the time spectrum of going “before” and “after.” I have a sense of this, as I spend time with God, but it can be elusive as I engage in the hub-bub of daily living, traveling along a sometimes bumpy road. How do I maintain this sense of the eternal, omnipresence of God’s grace? Perhaps, I can do this by focusing on him more consciously every day and praying for this ongoing awareness. Maybe by carrying a sense of God’s grace into the traffic of my daily life, I can be so bold as to put the church bumper sticker on my car! (This is something I have always avoided, as I feared my actions in traffic my bring disgrace on my church.) It is a great comfort to think on God’s grace following and preceding me during this journey of mine in time. I think that it probably has nothing to do with time actually—it is eternal and omnipresent and we, as mortal humans perceive it as in the time spectrum of going “before” and “after.” I have a sense of this, as I spend time with God, but it can be elusive as I engage in the hub-bub of daily living, traveling along a sometimes bumpy road. How do I maintain this sense of the eternal, omnipresence of God’s grace? Perhaps, I can do this by focusing on him more consciously every day and praying for this ongoing awareness. Maybe by carrying a sense of God’s grace into the traffic of my daily life, I can be so bold as to put the church bumper sticker on my car! (This is something I have always avoided, as I feared my actions in traffic my bring disgrace on my church.) Grace is a great thing to carry with you in the traffic of your life!

  15. Jayne on 02/14/2018 at 9:38 pm

    I already feel a calm and focus with this daily journaling. These are the real days of my life and I will let them fly by in “busyness” if I’m not a full and aware participant, open to God and His call. And His Love. And His Grace. Thank you all for your comments. Many of them have spoken to my faith circumstances, and have been included in my journaling. Your insights have been a blessing.

  16. Bryan Cook on 02/14/2018 at 7:00 pm

    Yes there is light at the end of the tunnel……prevenient grace……which gives me hope and the courage to keep going.

  17. Patricia Barnes on 02/14/2018 at 5:55 pm

    Blessed assurance – Jesus is mine…….and I am His. How wonderful to know that God’s Holy Spirit completely enfolds me…….thank you for loving me more than I shall ever know. May I witness effectively to your love.

  18. Deborah England on 02/14/2018 at 8:48 am

    My Creator, I offer myself to Thee – both the good and the bad – to build with me and do with me as you will. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better reflect your love and generosity. I say this prayer every day in thanksgiving for the restoration of life and sanity that God bestowed on me 23 years ago. Miracles continue to occur among us every day.

  19. Melissa Renner on 02/14/2018 at 6:49 am

    I like that you pointed out we can offer ourselves beyond just what we are feeling today, but our whole selves. I think this is the first time I’ve heard this and it actually made sense.

  20. James Rowland on 02/14/2018 at 6:30 am

    Lord Jesus Christ, today and every day pull me into your orbit and send me out to where I am most needed. Let your grace be mine to give.

  21. Jennifer on 02/14/2018 at 6:02 am

    Thank you so much for this study and your videos. The prayer practice of offering my whole self to God is something I see in Romans 12. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” If I offer myself daily to God then the practice of praye and fellowship at church takes on a completely different meaning. My reasonable service worship is a moment-by-moment experience of offering my whole self and all of my life to God like a living sacrifice.

    The prompt from God to pray and offer myself sacrificially to God is one thing I see in Psalm 37 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God gives me the desire to seek Him. Another thought is a quote I came across by Isaac the Syrian. “When the Spirit has come to reside in someone, that person cannot stop praying; for the Spirit prays without ceasing in Him. No matter if he is asleep or awake, prayer is going on in his heart all the time. He may be eating or drinking, he may be resting or working —the incense of prayer will ascend spontaneously from his heart. The slightest stirring of his heart is like a voice which sings in silence to the invisible”

  22. Nicola on 02/14/2018 at 1:38 am

    It is comforting to think that in the midst of self hate and abnegation, there is always hope and love. Thank you for today’s message.

  23. Julie on 02/13/2018 at 11:55 pm

    I love this suggestion. For a feeler, it is hard not to “feel” something but do it anyway. Your invitation brought to mind the Welcoming Prayer that Adele Calhoun taught us, welcoming Jesus into every aspect, especially the places and ways in which we feel insecure and most vulnerable. Yes, I believe I will go offer that prayer to Jesus today. “Welcome, Jesus, welcome.”

  24. Nicki on 02/13/2018 at 11:41 pm

    The word “prevenient” helps me to accept God’s Grace and God’s Love, even better, and Brother Keith you have reminded me to consult my Celtic Prayer books. Thank you.

  25. Paula Pryce on 02/13/2018 at 10:37 pm

    My prayer for years has been, “Peace and beauty, despite me.” This is to say, despite my feelings, despite my errors or accomplishments, God’s beauty, peace, and love endures. It does not mean that my commitment to work towards goodness isn’t important, of course, but for me, there is a deep restfulness, even relief, in knowing deeply that it isn’t all up to me. Thank you your beautiful reminder, Br. Keith.

  26. Bobbi on 02/13/2018 at 9:13 pm

    As I listen to Br. Keith I am startled by his comment that God’s grace is present all the time, not just when I feel it or am conscious of it. I am amazed to realize that I have believed that I had to be aware of God’s grace at work within me in order for it to be true or real. My prayer is that this surprising and crucial revelation will help me to stop pleading with God to show me God’s self in a way that I want God to be, and to help me to
    stop creating God in my own image.
    Thank you Br. Keith for this faith altering moment.

  27. Jules on 02/13/2018 at 9:05 pm

    “Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.”

  28. Delores on 02/13/2018 at 9:04 pm

    After yesterday’s video, there was a link on YouTube to a video performance of a blind, 10-year old boy with autism singing “Open the eyes of my heart Lord. I want to see you.” I cried as did people in the live audience. I marvel at the many ways God reveals His love and grace in my life when I least expect it. I know He is the source of my strength.

    • Joe Hayward on 02/19/2018 at 10:12 am

      I saw that video too Delores. It touched my heart deeply. Thanks for the reminder.

  29. Sherry Alexander on 02/13/2018 at 8:52 pm

    Truly a reminder to intentionally seek to give grace to others. Thank you for the reminder that grace goes before me and after me. Now it’s my turn to do the same, especially for those with whom I struggle.

  30. Victor on 02/13/2018 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you Br. Keith, you brought back a term the I have not heard in many years: “prevenient grace.” God love us first and patiently waits for us to respond in kind.

    Oh God I dedicate this day to you with all its joys and sorrows, a gift of love for you and all your creation.

  31. Susan on 02/13/2018 at 7:44 pm

    Dear Jesus, I offer my whole self to you even in my brokenness. Thank you for good help for Gandolf. Continue to be with Roger and Margaret. Bless their love for each other.

  32. Betsy on 02/13/2018 at 7:17 pm


    Take me Lord (but please, not all; leave a bit for Self indulgence)
    Use me Lord (but please, not all; leave a bit for Self pursuit)
    Love me Lord (but please, my all; not leaving even Self’s dark corners unlit

    And when I shine like a newly minted penny, then Take, Use, and Love me Lord (yes please, my All)

  33. George on 02/13/2018 at 7:00 pm

    Dear Heavenly Father, send forth your spirit; in front of me to guide me and light the way, below me to keep me stable, behind me for encouragement, above me for shelter. I ask the Spirit to be within me to receive and to share your gracious love O Lord with faithfulness, acceptance and forgiveness. In the name of your Son our Savoir, Jesus Christ. Amen.

    • Meg on 02/19/2018 at 2:39 am

      George, thank you for these words of prayer.

  34. Katherine Schnorrenberg on 02/13/2018 at 6:56 pm

    Love is all around us and Grace is how it is shown thanks for reminding me of it once again.

  35. Patricia George on 02/13/2018 at 6:53 pm

    I pray to God that I might do the things He would have me do, say the things He would have me say, be the conduit to bring others to Him…. However you see me in your plan, let me be that. Amen. Allahu Ekber (God is Great!)

  36. Jack Zamboni on 02/13/2018 at 5:52 pm

    Love the idea of a prayer of self-offering of what is both felt and unfelt in the Love that is already and always given. Another way to see Centering Prayer, which is the heart of my practice these days.

    A practical comment — so far, I’m finding the audio on these videos low in volume even at max volume on my device. If there is a way to boost volume on future videos I’d be grateful.

    • Louise on 03/05/2018 at 5:43 am

      Thank you to mention the volume of the video. I experienced the same thing when listening with my I phone. Even when I put the volume to the max.

  37. Suzanne Haraburd on 02/13/2018 at 5:48 pm

    Lord, I love you. Help me to love you with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and my neighbor as myself.

  38. LeeAnn on 02/13/2018 at 5:06 pm

    On a rare occasion, when called upon to pray, my heart and my mind are not ready, which makes ma feel guilty. I can find comfort in today’s message that God knows my heart even when I cannot express it.

    • Jolene on 02/14/2018 at 5:49 am

      Amen! This is a balm for my perfectionist soul.

  39. Jeff Carstens on 02/13/2018 at 4:09 pm

    I’m not fond of the idea of desrve/undeserved or worthy/unworthy. We are created in the image of love. Love comes to us in Jesus because that is love’s nature.

  40. John David Spangler on 02/13/2018 at 3:54 pm

    My life has always been blessed by God’s grace, “postvenient” or prevenient. The transcendant blessing has come with regard to the most insignificant matters as well as to those I thought to be very important. The prayer practice that I try to follow is to offer prayers of thanksgiving. It brings responses that fufill all seven forms of prayer. The responses meet all my needs, provides “more than we can desire or prayer for”.

    • Victoria on 02/13/2018 at 6:28 pm

      Thank you, John, for your succinct words. Yesterday’s too spoke to me. I am always amazed when I recall that ‘some’ little thing has given me the choice to be guided in some particular direction. Out of the blue last May, I woke up thinking, ‘Why don’t I go up to a different local church.” My background had been Church of Scotland, and in this country, Presbyterian, but because of circumstances I had gone to the local Anglican church for nigh on 20 years. I had no thoughts of changing church or denomination. But, I suppose I was being invited to change. I went once. I went twice. And, felt totally at home. After the welcomes by people in the congregation, and the spiritual warmth and preaching of the Minister, after six months I became a member of St. Andrew’s Church, here in Kingston. Every day is a gift and I thank God for that nudge, at the age of 83 to be ready for a change. Blessings. Christina

  41. Keith Aldred on 02/13/2018 at 3:35 pm

    May God use us today. May we be open to Him.

  42. Monique Jevne on 02/13/2018 at 3:17 pm

    Dear Jesus
    May my whole self serve you today.

    • Mary 85 on 02/20/2018 at 12:10 am

      Tried to type my motto above in the shape of a cross, but it didn’t work. Trying again:

      . . . . . L . . . . .
      . . . . . I . . . . . .
      . .LO❤️VE . .
      . . . . . V . . . . .
      . . . . .E. . . . . .