Rest and Prayer

This is my radio devotion for Monday, October 5, 2020, aired on KBBN/KCNI, who graciously airs devotions from the pastors of the Custer County Ministerial Association.

“Dying is easy; living is harder.”

Good morning, I’m Pastor Matt Fowler of Broken Bow United Methodist Church, and that line comes from George Washington’s character in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical Hamilton. Later, he’ll change it to, “Fighting is easy; ruling is harder.” This week, let’s explore some of the things Jesus does and says in the Gospel of Mark that might all fit the following Hamilton-esque pairing: Hearing Jesus is easy; following him is harder.

Take this as exhibit A in our journey this week: Jesus repeatedly rests and prays. Mark 1:35 is explicit in this saying, “Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.” In Mark 3, Jesus retreats with his disciples to the lakeshore and into houses, but people continually follow him. In Mark 6, after feeding 5,000 people, Jesus makes his disciples get into a boat headed across the lake and then heads “up onto a mountain to pray” (Mk 6:45-46). And in Mark 7, after a heated argument with fellow religious leaders, he heads completely out of Jewish territory, again, presumably, to rest and reset. Jesus consistently pulls away from the intense bustle of life to pray and rest.

Seeing Jesus is easy; following him is harder. It’s easy to get busy isn’t it? One doesn’t even have to try, it seems. Retired people sometimes joke with me that if they’d known how busy they’d be in retirement, they would have kept on working. Likewise, we make our mental or actual to-do lists – often longer than we can accomplish in the day – and even those get overrun by other things that just happen. I trust I’m not alone in this reality.

This is not, however, an indictment against work, labor, or the seasons of busyness to which we are called. Things have to get done, important things. Jesus, too, had important things to get done: revealing God’s kingdom and effecting salvation for all was a pretty big and important thing. But with intentionality, Jesus carves out practices of rest and prayer, through which he connects with God and models for us how to order our days.

So, here’s the question for today: when and how can we each carve out some intentional time with God in prayer and rest today? Can we sit with our coffee in prayer for an extra five minutes before or between projects or meetings?  Can we set insert a brief devotion before or after one of our meals? What about our morning or evening routines? Could we slow down our shoe-tying or shaving in the morning, or our teeth brushing or alarm setting routines in the evening to include a bit of prayerful reflection?

Perhaps just this radio devotion can be a start. Let’s pray.

Jesus, show us how to order our days like you, to make space for breathing, for rest, and for prayer. Inspire us, so that we can see you more clearly, and in seeing, help us reflect you for others. May it be so. Have a blessed day.

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