We’re on week three now of our Daily Prayer Guide! After starting with the Promises of God in week one, and the Psalms in week 2, this week we’re moving into the Words of Jesus. Every day this week the scripture includes something Jesus said, whether as part of a larger conversation or just one concept. No one spoke more about the kingdom of God than Jesus himself, so it’s beautiful thing to be able to take his words and turn them into prayers.
Here’s a sample of the first day, using the prompting questions on the left hand side of the Daily Prayer Guide.
28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
WHAT DOES JESUS SAY ABOUT HIMSELF OR HIS FATHER IN THESE VERSES?
He is available and approachable. He says “come to me”. He is lowly and humble in heart. When he invites you to come to him, it’s a kind invitation instead of the angry one we might presume. I will give you rest. The result or “consequence” of coming to Jesus, accepting his invitation is rest for your souls. Take up my yoke and learn from me. Coming to Jesus is not a walk in the park. It involves a yoke. There will be work and there will be learning. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Again, you might expect coming to a holy, righteous God is to pick up an even heavier way of life than you currently have; that his demands are intense and demanding. But that’s not what Jesus says.
HOW DOES JESUS TALK ABOUT HUMANITY; OUR ACTIONS, OUR CHOICES, WHAT WE WANT/NEED?
...all of you who are weary and burdened (those who labor and are heavy-laden). I like the ESV and others who say “heavy laden” because of how it contrasts with Jesus’ burden being light. I think that’s what Jesus intended for us to hear. But this implies that the prerequisite to coming to Jesus is that we are tired of working to carry the burdens of life on our own strength apart from him. Notice he doesn’t say, “come to me all of you who are sinless and perfect.” He doesn’t say “come to me all of you who have your life together; Who have perfect theology; Who understand the Bible forward and back; Who don’t swear or skip church to go fishing.” Come to me, all of you who are willing to accept that you need help. We need rest. His invitation is one of love. He knows what we need before we ask, and he knows that more than we need a day off, we need deep soul rest. Rest from striving. Take my yoke and learn from me. A yoke is a heavy piece of wood that sits across the shoulders of two oxen as they are pulling a plow or cart. You would never put a young ox under a yoke with another young ox. The two would fight each other the whole time. You put a young ox under a yoke with an older, more experienced ox so that the young one learns from the older. Jesus invites us to join him in HIS yoke so that we aren’t trying to handle the impossibly heavy burdens of life on our own. His yoke is easy and his burden is light because HE has thrown HIS shoulder into our heaviness. Like a young ox yoked to an older one, in order for us to learn from Jesus we have to give up our own demands, our own thoughts/beliefs about what is best, and LEARN to walk at his pace. You don’t know it all. To be invited to Jesus is to be invited to learn, which implies you don’t know everything.
LOOK CLOSELY FOR JESUS’ HEART BEHIND HIS WORDS. WHAT DOES HE WANT HIS LISTENERS TO UNDERSTAND? DO? THINK? BELIEVE?
If you put together his invitation to weary, burdened people to come and find rest from someone who is humble and lowly, I think it’s safe to say Jesus’ heart for us that we would stop striving; that as we come to him we would find him gentle and lowly, humble in heart. Jesus is not a tyrant. God describes himself as compassionate, merciful. Slow to anger, abounding in faithful love. Jesus is God in the flesh.
HOW DO JESUS’ WORDS SPEAK TO YOUR SITUATION, YOUR DOUBTS, YOUR WORRIES?
For me, I know the work of pastoring can be very challenging. Jesus’ words here speak to my heart that if I’m trying to do the work on my own, it’s going to be wearisome and heavy. But if I can trust him enough to slow down and walk at his pace, learning from him with every step, I will find that the work of ministry is light and joyful and deeply meaningful.
I think the work of parenting is the same. The work of a single person patiently waiting and trusting God for the right person to come along is the same. The work of a business owner trying to leverage his or her business for the glory of God is the same. Being a grandparent wanting to be helpful and not overbearing. Being a student trying to discern what God wants you to do next. It’s all the same. If we are trying to do these things on our own strength in our own power, we’re going to find the work to be very heavy. But Jesus invites us to a posture of learning.
TURN SCRIPTURE INTO PRAYER
Our Father in heaven – your name is holy! You are the God who made the heavens and the earth, and yet through Jesus you invite me to come to you. You invite me to know you as a compassionate and gracious God. You have shown us through Jesus that you are not a demanding tyrant, but that you deeply and dearly love those who want nothing to do with you.
I confess, Lord, that many times I have rushed ahead in life. I’ve made huge decisions without even so much as thinking about praying. I’ve stayed away from your word and prayer because I was afraid that you would just pile on more work, more burdens for me to carry. I already know I’m not doing an awesome job, and was afraid in coming to you I would just find more condemnation. Forgive me for making you something you are not. Give me the courage to come to you, even after I’ve sinned, knowing that you are compassionate and kind and quick to forgive.
Thank you for inviting me to rest. Thank you for caring enough about me to make yourself known in the person and work of Jesus. Thank you for being gentle and compassionate, and for walking with me every step of my life. Please soften my heart so I can learn from you, and help me to trust you more and more! Amen.