One year ago, as calendars clicked into 2019, I blogged: “Desire for a good future is universal. Christ’s followers, however, have a unique perspective on the new year. We celebrate his ownership of our future and the love-plans he has for every day of our journey; one in which HE is both our great present enjoyment and our final destination.” (See blog post ‘NOT just another day’)
Another new year’s journey has started, and the truth about future owned by the Lord appears even more brilliant against the gloomy global backdrop. As the Lord’s cherished treasure we have reason to be the most restful people on earth. Our REST is connected to choices by two parties: the Lord’s choice to share it with us, and our choice to enjoy it (which includes recognizing UNrest and shutting the door on it). If we’re to enjoy the REST of this year, then choosing to PRAY REST will be an important part of the journey.
Being at REST in the Lord when a storm lands is better than trying to find REST after its arrival. The start of the new year is a good time to open ourselves afresh to the grace of REST as our ‘journey setting’ through the ups, downs and unexpected turns of 2020.
Scripture is our resource for praying REST. An example, Psalm 34. David was in trouble when he sang this. His life was in danger and he had become a refugee cave-dweller in the Judean desert. Not a fairy-tale sequence to his kingly anointing from Samuel (1 Sam 16), but David trusted the Lord as Protector of his life and of his promised future. His song touches on three important REST prayer expressions: Admiration, Reflection and Trust.
Focus on one of the expressions each day over the next three days. Initially, use the bullet points to guide your praying from each passage, then expand them.
ADMIRATION – I WILL live as Your ADMIRER (1-3)
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
- Lord, I choose to do this at all times, whatever the circumstances: to see and respond to your praise-worthiness.
- I will voice my admiration of you in songs and spoken prayer. More than simply think or feel it, I will carry your praises always…on my lips
- You, Lord, will be the focus of my attention, whatever happens. As I glory in the Lord, I want my life to encourage and gladden others, especially those in trouble, so the afflicted hear and rejoice
- I will encourage others to join me in admiring you. I will live as a champion of your praises whenever and wherever I encounter your people in daily life. Let grace work through me to multiply your praises: Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
REFLECTION – You RESCUED ME in the past (4-6)
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
- In the past I have had troubles and fears, storms and difficulties. But you were never distant; you helped me in my struggles and times of need. I sought you, called to you, and you heard me! You were aware of me, listening to me – one poor man among so many, yet I had your full attention. And today, in your faithful love, you are still carrying me in your heart.
- Lord, I renew my celebration of your past help! I looked to you and you answered me and delivered me from all my fears. You have given me reason to not doubt, but to thank you for being true to your name: wonderful Saviour, Rescuer, Deliverer.
TRUST – You are constantly PRESENT as PROTECTOR (7)
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
- I declare this truth of your covenant presence with me. You are Immanuel, unseen but never absent. You encamp around me, leaving no gaps, and you never take your eye off me. My ever-present Protector.
- I am in awe of your greatness, and of the strength of your unfailing love surrounding me. You are my day and night Shield, my forever Safe Place and constant Rescuer.
ADMIRATION – the Lord is GOOD! (8)
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
- This is my untiring song of testimony: the Lord IS GOOD!
- You are generous in your Goodness – you never tire of giving more taste and see experiences of your Goodness.
- You are faithful in your Goodness, and have promised to never stop doing good to me. In you, my Refuge, I have received every good thing needed for this day and for the ones to come.
We will enjoy the REST of the year if we choose it daily. Repeat the above REST prayer expressions regularly, expanding on them each time. Look for additional scriptures to pray REST. Scribble your prayer insights and use them to build REST prayers (for more on Prayer Scribble see chapter eight of my book Shaped for Prayer Enjoyment).