Today is Saturday, the day our Western culture, rooted as deeply as it is in the Judeo-Christian story, still views as a day of rest and re-creation.
In our origin story, God works hard for six days, creating the extravagantly good world in which we live. And on the seventh day, after his work of creating was done, God rested.
His resting modeled a way of being for his people, as they received this origin story at the foot of Mt. Sinai along with his will for their lives as a people. And embedded within his will–set, in fact, in the 10 commandments themselves–Yahweh institutes regular rest for his people. No longer slaves, they were to imitate his rhythm of good work and holy rest in their own lives.
Resting is good! Resting is holy and human and divine.
And so, here on day 6 of our Pray-May Challenge, I invite you to practice resting prayer.
Resting prayer is a prayer in quietness, where you intentionally position yourself to be open to God’s restoration in your life. It is not filled up with words or activity, nor is it demanding of God’s action or response.
Resting prayer is about being easy in God’s presence. One of my sons asked me the other day: “Is ‘chillax’ an official word?”
My response? “Probably not, but it should be. We all know what it means!!”
Resting prayer is chillaxing with God, which, ironically, super difficult for us to do. We are busy, frenetic, distracted people, with lots going on in our lives and inside our minds. Which means we need to chillax with God more than ever.
So here’s what I want us to do today, to practice resting prayer.
- Find a few moments to simply be–with no other agenda than being with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. You could take a walk, lay down in the backyard, or even take a few moments in your bedroom. If you are driving today, pull over at a viewpoint and just sit for a few minutes. It can be long, but it doesn’t have to be. I do realize this is tough for some of us, but I’m confident you can find a few moments for rest.
- Start your time by stating why you are there:
- “Father, I am here to be with you.”
- “Jesus, let’s hang out for a bit.”
- “Holy Spirit, I’m just going to sit here with you.”
- Then open yourself up to God’s presence, but don’t feel any need to make anything happen. You don’t need to feel or hear or experience anything at all. Just be with God. In the quiet, in the rest. In the now.
- And rest. Just rest. #dontfeelpressure #itsokaytosleep #emmanuel
- After you’ve enjoyed your Creator’s presence, for however long or short, say thanks. “Thank you, Father, for always being with me. Thanks, Jesus, for spending time with me. Holy Spirit, I’m so grateful for your abiding presence.”
- And then go on with your day. It’s not that you now leave God’s presence–he is always with you–but now you go on with your day more aware of his continual availability to you and in you. And you engage your day having now rested in the presence of your resting God.
Everything I’ve just said can be summarized very simply: Go be with the God of rest today, and receive his rest for you. Jesus invites us to come to him, “all who labor and are heavy laden” and he promises to give us rest. (I’m guessing that applies to you.) “Take my yoke upon you,” Jesus said, “and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV) You can’t beat that for a divine invitation to resting prayer. Receive it as your big invite for today.
And if you end up falling asleep on your hammock, think of how happy God is that you were sleeping in his presence! If your mind drifts away for a bit, share that distraction with our ever-present Father, guilt-free. Should you find yourself yanked away by demanding children, invite God into that mess–laugh at the reality of interrupted rest and know that God goes with you, back into the day, back into the work, back into your calling to be his, wherever you are.
My prayer for you today is this: May this day be a day of rest for you, in the presence of our Lover, Friend and Re-Creator.