One of the perks of being a history major in college was finding treasures buried deep within otherwise long, laborious reading assignments! I found one such gem while working through a two-volume, nearly 1,900 page account of 19th century revivals in Wales. I was reading about one of the lesser-known traveling preachers of the period, a man with the odd-sounding name of Dafydd Cadwaladr. At nineteen, Dafydd was radically saved and shortly after composed a “covenant,” giving himself to serve the Lord.
The idea of covenant-making seems have been largely lost in evangelical circles today, but it certainly wasn’t foreign to the generation of the Great Awakening. Take, for example, Jonathan Edward’s seventy resolutions he wrote at 19 and read weekly for the remainder of his life. These men and women made covenants, not because they believed they could keep them on their own or that they would somehow earn favor with God, but rather out of the overflowing gratitude from their salvation and desire to serve God with their whole lives. A written covenant serves as a reminder of a special season where God meets us and our response of whole-hearted devotion back.
While I have often prayed through Dafydd Cadwaladr’s covenant, I would encourage you to use his example and write one in your own words.
I, Dafydd Cadwaladr, do give this day to be the Lord’s possession forever. I give my soul to him to keep and to rule; my body as a sacrifice to him, my heart to love him, my tongue to praise him, my time to serve him, my members as servants of righteousness for him. In his Person I believe, in his blood I have washed, in his grace I strengthen myself, in his Word I will meditate, his glory I will behold, on his bosom I will lean, in his commandments I will walk, against sin I will war, under the cross I will suffer, for every man I will pray.
Thus I intend to live for God, and to trust only in his goodness for strength and grace to keep my vow. And lest I ever retract my words, God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, the heavenly angels, the demons of hell, and my own conscience shall be a witness of my covenant. ‘One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob,’ Isaiah 44:5. ‘Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.’ 1 Timothy 6:12. ‘I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgements.’ Psalm 119:106.
Keep me, O Lord, from every kind of presumption and error, and keep me ever close to thee. May thy blessing be upon me.
I love the author’s comment:
“Perhaps it is not correct to call this a covenant. It is rather a vow of consecration. But it shows great solemnity of spirit, and also a wide knowledge of the scriptures for a lad who was not yet twenty years of age. Few in comparison, would produce such a consecration in writing, but every godly man is called upon to sanctify himself and in his mind to present himself for the Lord’s service.”
Yet another example of a written covenant, from a passage in Hudson Taylor’s The Early Years.
Lord, I here give you everything I am, my strength, my time, my emotions, my will, my heart, my love is all yours. In exchange for my whole being, I but ask that you will use me, that you will give me some work to do for the One who has loved me and given Himself for me. Lord, I will go anywhere, do anything, if only you will provide your clear direction and presence. I will count no sacrifice a cost too great to pay, for you are infinitely worthy.
In exchange, I ask that you will give me more of Yourself. To know this sweet Christ is all I live for, and I humbly bring this covenant before You, asking that You will accept these terms in the name of Your son.
Christ is worthy of the entirety of our lives, and anything we give up to serve him entirely is nothing compared to the infinite treasure we gain in him. Let me encourage you to set aside a special time with the Lord to pray over writing your own prayer of surrender. It will bolster you in hard times, encourage you to make Christ-honoring decisions, and serve as a continual reminder that you are bought with a price.
John Morgan Jones and William Morgan, trans. John Aaron. The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2008), 144.