Recap: Acknowledge your stress, determine its’ sources, seek Him first
My mind was set upon many things, life closely resembling the anxious world spoken to throughout scripture. Modern day Martha plus. My short prayer at gate A-23 fostered a more peaceful state of mind as I handed some of the weight I carried to God. For the moment, it freed my mind for less stressful pursuits, like simply observing the lively airport scene unfolding around me as the evening rush materialized.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” That always sounded very appealing. I was weary and burdened, but what did Jesus mean? What is God’s rest and how could I get there? Would it last?
Prayer is a simple and powerful way to begin the process of making God’s rest our reality. The airport prayer was one-off and situational, and it helped, but absent a miracle, sustainability of the peace I acquired would be elusive. Sustainability requires spiritual and personal transformation. Regular prayer is a powerful place to begin.
King David was exceptionally good at this. In Psalm 42 we find him alone, mourning his inability to feel God’s presence, like us sometimes. David alternates between expressing deep grief (lamenting) and praising God. At a time when we might give up, David purposefully recalls great times with God and the joy of His presence. David sought God’s spiritual intervention by transparently going to Him at his darkest hour and lamenting and praising Him, even when God seemed silent. Psalms reflect what deep, heartfelt communication with God can look like.
How we pray is personal. Jesus provides guidance in Matthew 6:5-13 reciting the “Lord’s Prayer”. It covers all the bases but sets no limits. We can lament our mountains, our pain, and our fears. We can praise God and thank Him for all He has done and will do. He encourages us to ask with specificity. We can ask His forgiveness and He will say yes. He is a God of pardon and grace. Authentically communicating our hearts with Him is what He desires.
The Creator desires deep connection with each of us and is always present and available. The persistent discipline of authentic prayer will lay the groundwork for major life-transformation and help build a lasting peace.
How can you successfully incorporate prayer into your life?
Matthew 11: 28-30 28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Psalm 42 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Matthew 6:5-13 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.’
Philippians 4: 6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.