Some of the most comforting and beloved words that Jesus ever spoke in the Gospels are found in Matthew 11.28-30.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
One of the reasons these verses speak comfort to the heart is the invitation that Jesus extends to us. Christ calls us to accept this invitation in exchange for the peace and rest he gives.
I believe the best way to read the Bible is to pray the Scriptures. These well-loved words of Jesus can become a form of meditative prayer for us, a way of presenting our troubles to Christ as we learn the Lord’s way of bearing burdens.
Here’s a suggested rhythm for meditative prayer adapted from Matthew 11.28-30.
1. Place all circumstances and situations that burden you before the Lord
The first step is actually accepting the invitation to approach Christ with honesty about our heaviness of heart. Just as Hannah ‘poured out her heart’ before the Lord when she was burdened about having a child (1 Sam. 1.15), so we are invited to pour out our hearts before the Lord. A sense of rest may come instantaneously, it may not. Receive Christ’s promise regardless: ‘I will give you rest.’ Receive that promise in faith, whether or not you have accompanying emotions or feelings of peace. The peace of Christ is present even when we don’t feel it
2. Take Jesus’ yoke
Christ invites us to take his yoke, not our own. A yoke is a wooden frame that bonds two animals to pull a common load. To take Jesus’ yoke means two things: 1) we let go of striving to find freedom in our own wisdom; 2) we meditate on Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom of God more than we analyze a way out of our troubles.
You might visualize Christ at your side and this may bring comfort. What pace does the Lord require of you as you move forward today with your burden? What parable or beatitude from the Sermon on the Mount could you undertake for meditation today?
3. Learn from Christ in the midst of your burdens
Even when we are weary, Jesus calls us to learn from Him. When we meditate on the way of the Kingdom, we truly see that Christ’s way relieves burdens and brings freedom. Bearing his cross is not easy, but ultimately the wisdom of the cross brings new life and redemption in our lives. Freedom from burdens doesn’t come through our reasoning, but through the grace of God. His gentleness and levity relieves the pressure to reason our way out of perplexing situations.
If we do not have insight to a problem, release your worries and fears to Christ.. Instead, renew your mind with the Way of Jesus by rehearsing the Beatitudes (Matthew 5.1-10).
4. Renew your heart with the hope of rest
Simply practicing a rhythm of prayer doesn’t promise that our burdens will be gone. We are not guaranteed that we will feel rejuvenated each time we pray. It may be more tempting to remain in prayer than face the burdens that await you! But eventually we must take the next steps in our journey with Jesus, bearing his yoke.
Before taking those next steps, conclude your prayer time claiming the promise and hope of rest in your heart. Christ has promised rest for your soul. Confess your faith that Christ has given you the rest you need for today and he will continue to deepen his rest within you in the days ahead.