God Receives Us

hands open to receiveThe Ignatian Suscipe begins with the words, “Take, Lord, and receive…” This prayer then goes on to offer oneself to God. The Suscipe is a prayer of surrender. We might think about what we are doing on our end when surrendering (or resisting surrender): what parts of our lives we give to God or hold back; what aspects of ourselves we disclose or hide (perhaps even from ourselves); and whether we are free around matters like wealth, health, or others’ opinions of us. We may give the Lord our day’s work, or let God take care of the outcome of our actions when our efforts feel uncertain. Through reciting the Suscipe, we encourage ourselves to “let go” and give God a little more of ourselves than before.

However, there is another dimension to these words: God receives us. All of us. I can say to God with confidence: here, take this or that aspect of my life, or better yet, take the whole of it and the whole of me, because I know that I am always being received.

If we are lucky, we had parents who were good at receiving all of who we were, at least most of the time—both positive and negative feelings or our particular identities as they developed. Perhaps they also listened well about the everyday events as we came home from school or other activities. Sometimes, though, parents are not able to do all of this receptive work, or they even actively reject or neglect us in significant ways. As adults, how we relate to God can often be influenced by the ways in which significant people in our pasts were able or unable to hold and receive us.

God, however, is always eager to receive us in our wholeness—our gifts and weaknesses, shortcomings and strengths. God “gets” our inner workings and appreciates our quirks and individual personalities. God is strong enough to accept and receive any emotion or experience that we might bring to prayer.

To pray “take Lord, and receive,” then, is not only an offer of self, but also an affirmation of faith in a God who desires to know, to love, and to hold us more than we can ever say.

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Marina Berzins McCoy
Marina Berzins McCoy is a professor at Boston College, where she teaches philosophy and in the BC PULSE service-learning program. She is the author of The Ignatian Guide to Forgiveness and Wounded Heroes: Vulnerability as a Virtue in Ancient Greek Philosophy. She and her husband are the parents to two young adults and live in the Boston area.


  1. Dear Marina,
    I am an 88 year old woman,a spiritual director, deeply rooted in the spiritual life personally as well as professionally. I am experiencing the surrender personally and your commentary on the Ignatious Prayer is so helpful in understanding. Thank You.
    Patricia Herbst

  2. Marina,
    This post speaks to an element in my prayer life that has been with me for a very long time: trusting that the Creator knows the specifics of my personhood – specifically and ‘eagerly’ as you say. It not that I don’t believe that God is ‘aware’ and the source of all goodness and hope-filled inspiration but rather in life’s most serious moments and challenges. How much is up to me and how much is ‘letting go and letting God.’ Your words of encouragement are helpful-thanks.

  3. Marina,
    What a wonderful insight!
    This has been a struggle for me
    All of my life.
    Your gift of expression
    About this sacred prayer
    Which – only recently
    Am I able to say
    With a measure of both
    Head and heart
    Perhaps my challenge
    Of accepting this truth (by me)
    Of the insight you offer
    Is best expressed
    By poet Robert Frost
    In his poem
    “Not All There”
    I turned to speak to God
    About the world’s dispair;
    But to make bad matters worse,
    I found God wasn’t there
    God turned to speak to me
    (Don’t anybody laugh)
    God found I wasn’t there –
    At least not ever half
    Many thanks (yet again)!

  4. Thanks for this reflection. I am still trying to say this prayer with 100% conviction. Often , when I pray it, things flash into my mind I really don’t want God to take away. Then, I am reminded of the Ignatian concept of “indifference “.


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