A Prayer for When You Feel Restless
By Molly Law
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28, ESV
The holiday weekend specifically created for rest has come and gone, but how many of us can say we took Labor Day weekend to actually rest? Most of us probably wanted to maximize a free day off and took our families on vacation, finished household chores, or ran errands around town.
This is not surprising — for we live in a culture that values productivity and instills in us that to “rise and grind” will make us worthy and successful. So, on days that are given to us as rest, we are then forced to use for activities that could not be met during the work week.
God foresaw humanity’s need for rest. It was God who modeled for us what healthy, creative, and productive work looked like. After six days of creation, he gave us rest. Genesis 2:2-3 tells us, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
However, with the Fall of Man, even sin tried to destroy the fabric of God’s created work and rest. The world tries to tell us that unless we are producing, we are worthless. This can be seen not only through our daily jobs but through social media — where even in our free time, trying to become an influencer to be seen has become work.
This, in turn, causes restlessness. And this is something I personally struggle with, and I imagine so many others do as well. In moments when I have the time and space to rest, I find myself becoming very anxious. I am unable or unwilling to rest. Feelings of guilt, shame, or even boredom over not doing something overcome me, and I often choose to be productive when I honestly need to rest.
Not surprisingly, when I do not take those opportunities to rest and push myself beyond what is healthy, my body will force me to rest — through illness or depression. Even though I get rest this way, it is far from enjoyable. Just as God delighted in his work, and his purpose for us was to find our work gratifying, I believe he also created rest to be enjoyable.
When the feelings of guilt or shame start to creep from the edges of my times of rest, I breathe in and out: I grab my Bible and allow myself to enter God’s rest; I grab a book and sit in a comfy chair to read; I pick up the remote and turn on a movie that I enjoy and relaxes my entire being. Sometimes, I curl up on the couch and take a well-earned nap.
Lord, I pray we can give ourselves permission to rest. And when we do, I pray it is with you whom we choose to rest. I pray that we find peace in your words and voice as we enter into a state of rest that only you can provide.
Thank you for creating a time for work and productivity, and thank you for creating a holy time for rest so that we can be refreshed and start anew. Thank you for giving us passion, drive, and purpose. Thank you for the promise of one day being in your presence and feeling that sense of rest for all time.
Father, I pray for those who cannot find time for rest. For those whose economic and social situation has them working two or more jobs, night shifts, 80-hour weeks just to stay above water. I pray that you’ll give them relief — that the community around them will step in and help. I pray we, as Christians, remember our charitable spirits and lend a hand to those in need.
Thank you for your marvelous gift of rest, my God. Let us not listen to the world and its definition of value, remembering full well our identity is in Christ alone. As the world spreads its message of worth, let us spread the gospel message — a message full of hope, peace, and the greatest love the world has ever known.
In Our Savior’s holy name, Amen.
Photo credit: ©SalemDesign/BethanyPyle
Molly Law is the Editor of C.com. She has a Master of Arts in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, UK, where she studied and lived for a year in Scotland. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Professional Writing from Gardner-Webb University. Her editorial career includes Senior Editor of a bimonthly magazine for the nonprofit ACA and Editorial Assistant at Luath Press in Edinburgh, UK. She enjoys reading 18th-century British Literature, creative writing, and traveling.
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Originally published Saturday, 23 September 2023.