In our What’s in it for me post, one of the benefits of prayer growth mentioned was: A deeper REST in the Lord. Let’s go back to that one.
If real rest could be bottled and marketed, the sellers would make a fortune and would struggle to keep up with market demand. Everybody wants it. Christ’s Kingdom is growing, but so is the chaos of Darkness. The Lord did warn us: the nearer we get to the Finish, the stronger the Light, AND the thicker the Darkness (Isaiah 60:1-2). As trouble multiplies, so too does fear, panic and the physical and social illnesses triggered by soul unrest. Many realize that religion, medication or happy hours can’t give them real rest. As chaos grows, the restfulness of Jesus’ disciples is one of the most powerful witnesses to a world out of rest.
Real rest is ours. Through Christ we’ve been connected to the restful nature of God. But to live in that rest we must reach for it. It sounds like a contradiction, but isn’t. The reaching is not counter to grace, but co-operation with the Spirit. It lines us up to receive promised goodness.
It’s great when people give an entire session to contemplative prayer, or spend a week-end doing it at a Retreat Centre. But sadly, contemplation has been labelled as a prayer preference of mystically inclined people. So, many of us avoid it, and in doing so we shorten our reach for rest. All types of praying should include contemplation: the habit of pondering Jesus. By looking at him, focusing on what he says about himself and agreeing with him, oneness with him deepens and we are drawn into the restfulness of his nature. Reaching for rest is more difficult if we wait until a storm hits and emotions are wobbly. Resting in the Lord is his gift for enjoyable living, not just for surviving crises. We are more likely to live in rest when we make a habit of reaching for it by agreeing with him about himself, his ways and about his view of us.
Perhaps this little exercise will be helpful. Under the Prayer Focus tab at the top of the Wingspanprayer website, the Verse to Pray gives portion of Isaiah 45:21
And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me:
- What truth(s) about the Lord’s nature do you see in this passage?
- Contemplate the truth(s). Ponder HIM. Then voice your agreement with what he has said; tell him that you see him as he sees himself.
- Allow your heart to respond to the truth(s). How does the seeing of (and agreeing with) him make you feel toward him? Tell him.
- Write down one trouble or struggle facing you. We all have them; we can choose to focus on the nature of the struggle, or on the nature of the Lord. Take a word or phrase from your pondering of him and write it over the situation – allow your agreement with him to rezone the trouble: no longer a place of fear, panic or heaviness, but a place of resting in the Lord.