2004-09-06 - Coming to God in Prayer
Matthew 11:25-30, Verse 28, "Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
George III of Great Britain and Ireland made his bid as the first horticulturist in a rather strange manner. He was being driven through Windsor Park, when he ordered his carriage driver to stop. The King got out, walked over to an oak tree, shook hands with one of its branches and talked to it for several minutes. He thought he was talking to the King of Prussia.
Putting insane George aside, we see in this passage that Jesus is talking with the Father. He seems to do this a lot in the gospels, and I am sure we don't have recorded even a small percentage of the times He went before God the Father in prayer. It can seem when we are praying, that we are talking to air, or thinking thoughts in our heads that go nowhere. However, we have many promises in Scripture that when we pray, God hears us. "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears," Psalm 34:4. Prayer is simply not the same as having a conversation with ourselves, or even an oak tree. It is ushering ourselves into the presence of the living God, who has promised in this verse to give rest to those who come to Him seeking.
This is a great promise. Who does not need more rest? This does not mean that God is promising more hours of sleep to those who pray, but rather, He is saying that when we experience the struggles that come with life, and living faithfully before our God, He will make these burdens lighter when we come to Him. His promise is not Sealyposturpedic (copyrighted) certified. It is not about sleep, but rather, "You shall find rest for your souls," Matthew 11:30.
We can apply this promise personally. God knows that we are heavy-laden. There is not one struggle, not one doubt, not one fear, not even the slightest problem we face, that God is not more aware of than we are ourselves. He knows all things, and His promise is that if we come to Him, He will give us rest. You may be sitting, reading this, and thinking, "Nobody understands my situation. Nobody knows how I feel. I am afraid to admit that I don't even understand myself." But God does understand, and He does know, and He has promised that if we come to Him, He will give rest for our souls.
God has promised, but He has not promised how He will respond. There is much more we could say on this passage, but I hope this summary from a poem by Tennyson will encourage you and highlight that while God may not respond as we expect, He always responds in the best way.
There was a little girl in a Children's Hospital who needed major surgery. It was not likely that she would live, and she asked the girl next to her what she should do. The girl replied that she should tell it all to Jesus, and that He would take care of her. The girl looked around the room and saw all the children in the ward, and wondered how Jesus would know that it was her that had prayed. She thought about how busy Jesus must be, with so many sick children. She decided that she would put her hands out of the bed, and when Jesus saw her hands, He would know that it was her that needed him. Before her operation, as the doctors and nurses were going through the ward, they noticed that the little girl had died, but they knew that Jesus had been there, because there she lay, with her hands placed out of the bed.
Soli Deo Gloria,