Burden-Relieving Prayer

“Ouch! I’m telling!” Judah, my youngest son, complained.

As expected, immediately, I heard him making his way to me in the kitchen, where I was going through the mail. With tears just about to run down his cheeks, Judah told me all about the great injustice he endured.

Having just returned home from work, I was a bit tired. So, I said to him, “I’ll take care of it.” With that, his countenance changed, and he joyfully walked right back where he’d come from. I overheard him self-righteously say to his sibling, “Dad said, ‘He’ll take care of it.’”

He didn’t, of course, know “how” or even “when” I would take care of it. Frankly, he didn’t know “if” I would take care of it at all. He simply knew “who” would take care of it. Because he knew who would take care of his problem, he walked out of that conversation without the burden he brought into it.

That burden-relieving, peace-producing, change-you-right-where-you-are-from-the-inside-out kind of interaction only happens when there is an unshakable trust in the one to whom you just presented your problem. That’s childlike trust.

Our interactions with God are supposed to happen that way. That’s what it looks like to “cast your burden on the Lord” (1 Pet. 5:7; Ps. 55:22). In prayer, our childlike faith leads us to the Father with our burden, and our childlike trust enables us to leave the conversation without it. Childlike trust is wrapped up in the “your will be done” part of the Lord’s Prayer. Our prayers are requests for what we think is best. Childlike trust says, “I trust you to do what is best with my request.”

Remember, Jesus says we are talking with the God of the heavens who created all things, sustains all things, works his mysterious, sovereign will for the good of those who love him raises up kingdoms, flattens kingdoms, raised the dead, defeated death, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, enabled men to survive Babylon’s flames, shut the mouths of Daniel’s lions, just to name a few things. Not a bad resume! He knows all things, loves perfectly, and is incredibly gracious. While we can know him truly, we’ll never know him completely. He is an amazing God!

Sometimes we forget the One to whom we are talking. Oftentimes, somewhere in our conversation with the great and gracious God, we start to feel like we know what’s best for us, regardless of the situation. That’s why it is so important to remember who God is. If God is great enough to answer your prayers and those of everyone else praying to him, he is great enough to have a better way that you don’t understand.

Childlike trust rests on the power, love, and wisdom of God. Because he is all-powerful, I don’t have to worry about something stopping him from doing what is best for me. Because he loves his children with unending love, I can be assured that he will always do what’s best for me. Because he’s all-wise, I know he always takes the best way. Childlike trust rests in his revealed character, not in the knowledge of his secret plans.

That’s why it is so important to think about the words that we often use to end our prayers—“in Jesus’ name.” We don’t say this because we have to. Jesus didn’t end his prayer in Matthew 6 in that way. He said at the beginning of his now-famous prayer, to pray “like” this (Matt 6:9). His teaching wasn’t primarily concerned with the order of the wording, but with the elements of the prayer. Yet we do this because, in other passages, he talks to his disciples about asking “in his name” (Jn. 14).

It is important that we pray “in Jesus’ name.” We should not treat his name as a secret password. Instead, we should be reminded of the powerful, gospel truth that we can come to God “in Jesus’ name” because of Jesus’ death in our place on the cross. Because of the cross, we should never question his love. Because of the empty tomb, we should never question his power. And because of the whole plan, we should never question his wisdom. No one thought that anything good could come from Jesus’ death on the day of his death. Little did anyone know that Jesus would make the seemingly worst day into the best day with the best news ever.

Do you trust God like a child? Do you trust him enough to be thankful for his “no’s” to your requests because you know that every “no” is a “yes” to something better?

When you do, you’ve learned the secret to experiencing a deep inner peace in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances. That inner peace doesn’t just change your daily life; it has a powerful impact on the world around you—an impact we all desperately need.

J. Coppenger

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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