Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn of me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart
and you will find rest for your souls.
Prayer begins, not with our call to God, but with God’s call to us. “Come to me,” Jesus calls. “Come.” All our praying is in some way a response to God’s initiative. But we may misunderstand the invitation God extends. We may not hear it as the call of Love. We may suspect that if we respond to this call, we will be met with shame, with rejection or with impossible demands. As a result, we may hesitate to respond at all. Or we may go to God in prayer but full of a need to prove ourselves, driven by fears that even in prayer we need to work hard and look good.
When we listen carefully to the invitation that is extended we hear something surprising. “Come to me and rest,” Jesus calls. “I know you are weary and burdened. I am gentle and humble, so you will find that you are safe with me. I love you. You will find that you can completely, fully rest with me, knowing you are loved, knowing you are safe.”
Jesus acknowledges our weariness. Jesus knows we are burdened. Jesus knows we need to rest. And Jesus tells us that it is possible to rest with him because he is gentle and humble. When we respond to Jesus’ call, we will not be met with demands or shame or judgment. We will be met with compassion. We will be held in arms of love.
Prayer is a response to God’s initiative, to God’s invitation to come and rest. Prayer is rest in the deepest sense of the word–rest for our souls.
When we rest we stop all doing, all proving, all effort. We can be done with our striving, with our self-reliance, with our pretense, with our heavy load. We can release all that burdens our heart to God’s loving care and rest in God’s loving presence.
This promise of rest to which Jesus calls us is an echo of the same promise made centuries earlier by the psalmist who described God as our loving Shepherd. We have read or heard this promise many times, but we tend to read right past it. “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” The Shepherd provides rest.
Prayer is resting in the green pastures and beside the quiet waters of God’s love. Prayer is resting in God’s love, experiencing the gentleness and humility of Jesus. Prayer is rest for our souls.
You call to me
to come to you
It is the last thing
I imagined you would say
or want from me.
You surprise me
with you gentleness
Grant me the ability to rest in your presence.
May I find rest
for my soul.
Sit quietly in prayer. Ask God to help you rest in the green pastures and beside the quiet waters of God’s love for you. Ask God to help you respond to Jesus’ call to come to him and rest. Sit still and quiet for a time, resting in God’s tender love for you.