A view from a field of an orange and purple sunset over a lake

Finding rest from the burden of words

Harvest Partner — August 9, 2021

There is a deep weariness in many of us. It’s an exhaustion that comes not from labour but from the burden of many words. Too often, they are words of despair and loss, fear and uncertainty.

These tiring words filter down to us through a myriad of sources, from the daily news to conversations. It can become overwhelming, especially when these words fill the content of our every prayer.

Several years ago, I came to a crossroad in what became a long road to recovery from a brain injury. The words I was praying had no joy; they were mostly cries for help and questions that led nowhere. One afternoon someone showed me another way.

“Jacqueline, you need a break from this”, she told me. I was astonished. How could I walk away from myself and out of this dark valley? Then came the counsel that opened a new path.

I was to spend one prayer time a week not mentioning my need. No petitions and no questions. That prayer time was to allow myself to become deeply aware of God’s loving Presence with me. Nothing else. “Just be with God”, she told me.

I began my no-petition-prayer-time right away. On that first day, not knowing how to begin, I simply whispered, “Jesus, I’m here.” Almost immediately I experienced His loving and calming Presence settle in the moment with me. Hope began to bubble up and drown out the words that were drowning me.

It is in attentiveness to God, rather than to our difficulties, that we experience at our core that God is not only the One who gives, He is the God who is, and He is love. That thought alone shifts our perspective. In a very real way, it renews our strength and faith for the petitions we will later bring to the Lord.

In Ephesians Paul prays that we would grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and that we would know this love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19). In quiet attentiveness to God, we receive the assurance that His love does cover everything in our lives, and we can’t explain it, just like Paul says. It’s that wonderful!

The pressures and difficulties of this life are real. Through it all what we need most is to know the stabilizing love of Christ and to live and pray standing on that solid ground.

Words shape our thoughts and emotions. The Bible speaks about this and tells us to be careful what words we allow to feed our thoughts. When we regularly practice a no-petition-prayer-time and focus solely on God instead, we stop repeating words of pain and fear and stress, and those words stop drilling into us. It makes way for hope to rise, and it helps us overcome the fatigue of many words.

I encourage you to consider including this simple practice in your prayer life, even in five minutes increments. In this troubled and broken world, we need to be renewed inwardly, and find rest in the knowledge of His love.

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