Thursday, April 10, 2014

what I'm reading: anxiety and the Burden Bearer

Prayer is God's great antidote to worry (Phil 4:6). But so often, we turn from prayer to something else. Ed Welch could be describing me here:
Too often I will begin to pray, then gravitate to the things that worry me, start trying to solve them, realize I am not really praying, and then decide to attend to the urgent matters and pray later.
Does that sound familiar? There are lots of ways I turn prayer into a personal fix-it session:
  • I spend the time thinking through my worries, trying to find solutions
  • I turn prayer into self-talk about my fears
  • I try and get myself into the right frame of mind before I pray
  • I stop praying so I can get on with my to-do list
  • I think God won't listen to me unless I get things right first.
But that's not really prayer. Prayer means we give up control, stop trying to fix things, and hand them over to God instead. And this doesn't come naturally, especially to us worriers, who are used to using our minds to imagine and head off every possible catastrophe:
Prayer is harder than we think ... To actually stop and pray is contrary to our sense that we must do something - and do it quickly ... Prayer is counterintuitive. It is the opposite of what we would normally think or do.
God doesn't just tell us to stop worrying and get on with praying. He reminds us that he is the great Burden Bearer:
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7) ...

We are carrying burdens we were never intended to carry alone ...

In an act that could never have been conceived by a human being, the King comes and beseeches us to lay our burden on him. ... He invites us to cast our burdens on him as we would cast burdens on an ox. ...

In one of the amazing paradoxes of the kingdom, when God takes our burdens and takes the position of a servant, he reveals our inability and his sufficiency. As such, he is exalted as the God of the mighty hand.
Prayer isn't about me trying to get my attitudes right, or talking myself out of my worries. It isn't, ultimately, about me at all: it's about God, my Father, the great Burden Bearer.

Prayer is coming to God, just as I am, and talking to him about where I'm at, right now. It's saying to God, "I'm worried, and I can't fix this. Please help me!". It's refusing to try and solve my fears, and giving them to him to carry instead.

I've got a long way to go, but I'm learning to do this. Will you join me?

1 comment:

Ruth said...

That's def what I do with prayer, will be rethinking it after reading this. Thanks for the post :)