Learning to rest in God is a peculiar task because initially, it seems to go against our human fix-it instincts, and against our cultural expectations. So often, we can feel guilty for resting and it may become something we put off until after a certain accomplishment is achieved or save it for a certain day of the week, both of which can lead to burnout. We may also reject spiritual rest if we don’t feel like we’ve done enough to deserve this gift.
That’s the beautiful thing about learning to rest in God! Taking on this spiritual discipline doesn’t depend on problems being eliminated or us working hard enough to deserve rest.
What is Spiritual Rest?
Spiritual rest offers peace and contentment in the thick of storms and life’s pressures because we remember where our hope and our help come from. Like so many of God’s gracious gifts, this one doesn’t depend on our enoughness.
I believe spiritual rest is incredibly instinctive to us as we walk with God, but we tend to forget how to follow through when we get overly busy. In busy seasons, we forget to pause and assess what responsibilities really belong on our shoulders and what weight is meant for God to bear on our behalf.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30
Spiritual rest doesn’t come when our problems are all solved and every to-do item is checked off the list. That’s good because those achievements will never take place earthside. Instead, spiritual rest comes in the midst of our anxiety, worry, and fear when we remember our Mighty Warrior who saves. Despite all we face, we can find spiritual rest when we stop spinning in our own strength and invite God to refresh us with spiritual rest and renewal.
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” ~Zephaniah 3:17
Though learning to rest in God may take some reconnection with our spiritual instincts to trust in God, surrender our worries to God, and receive spiritual rest from God, the discipline is definitely worth cultivating!
Learning to Rest in God – What Makes it Possible?
My Help Comes From God
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
~ Psalm 91
Learning to rest in God is built on the foundation of knowing my help comes from God. There is nothing that exhausts or cuts off this supply of help, so when we are tired of fighting solely in our own strength and finally come to the end of ourselves, God’s supply continues in abundance. The key is learning to bypass the exhaustion and bring everything to God first, not with expectations that the problems will vanish, but that God will lend us holy, divine power to persevere in joy and hope, despite the pain.
My Hope is in God
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
~ Psalm 62:5-6
Looking solely at our abilities or supplementing our limits with what other people, places and things can provide, we always reach an end to the supply. But when we acknowledge it is our God who created the heavens, earth, and everything within, our spirits lift. Then, we remember, that same God who is not in the distance like the mountains, not unattainably high or buried impossibly deep. Our God is here! As a shelter, defender, and rescuer. The shade in our right hand, our rock, and our salvation helps us live unshaken. Learning to rest in God comes when we remember our help and hope come from God.
Learning to Rest in God in 3 practical ways
Cast Your Cares on God
Peter tells us to cast all our anxieties on God because he cares for us. Casting means to intentionally and forcibly throw something away from the body. It makes sense that Peter the fisherman would use this visual for how we should rid ourselves of worry, casting them upon God. But like any good angler knows, throwing the net is just the first step. It also has to be pulled back in to realize the full benefit. When we cast our worries upon God and empty our net, we make room for pulling in joy, peace, and wisdom to continue on in our tiresome circumstances fully rested.
Casting also refers to assigning parts and roles, as with an actor. When we assign our worries to Christ’s care, we are then assigned help, rest, & hope for making it through. Don’t forget this giving and receiving. Anytime we change our habits we have to provide ourselves an option for what to do instead! The next time you feel worry creeping in, intentionally make the switch!
Sit quietly at the feet of Jesus, surrender yourself, and assign your worry to a God who fights your battles. You only need to be still (Exodus 14:14).
Release Attachment to Outcome
Releasing attachment to outcome doesn’t mean you stop caring about what happens or quit boldly praying for specific things. What it does mean is that you no longer live in fear of “what if?” or lose faith when things don’t go your way. Praying this way, trusts that God is fully in control and places ultimate trust in God’s continued help, hope, and spiritual rest, regardless of the outcome.
Spiritual Affirmations for Letting Go
These spiritual affirmations are some of what I use personally. Some are inspired by Louise Hay, some by scripture and some out of my own heart’s cry. I hope they free you to praise God just for being God, regardless of outcome or circumstance.
God of all is unlimited and abundant.
I focus my attention on what I desire, take the necessary steps and rest in the uncertainty by letting go of any attachment to outcome.
In God there are no limits for time, space or opportunity.
I am ready and willing to trust Jehovah Jireh, the source of all abundance.
I proclaim my intentions to God and step into the field of all possibilities.
God is not stalling. God is ordering my steps toward and outcome that is immeasurable more than I could ask or imagine.
I detach myself from forced outcomes and limited expectations. I attach myself to God.
I am content and hopeful in the now.
I find rest in God.
Meditation for Rest
This is a beautiful strengthener as you search for rest, hope, and help. We’ll take note of the natural pause between breaths and see how our mind, body, and spirit already know how to confidently surrender worry to God and receive spiritual rest. Learning to rest in God just may take some remembering, which is exactly the purpose of this meditation.
What’s one area of your life that you could cast upon or assign to God so that you may be more aware of the hope offered to you and receive help and rest? If you took those steps do you think God would ask you to leave that area of life alone for a while or give you the strength to return after hope and rest are established?