Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Prayer and Care-casting

Recently I went to my solitary prayer place at Sterling State Park carrying pages of burdens. As I sat on the shores of Lake Erie I mentally went through a number of prayer requests and needs - 

  • for friends of mine who are sick...
  • for some marriages that are struggling...
  • for a pastor-friend who is being kicked out of his church...
  • for some families that are suffering economically...
  • for some young adults who have lost their way in life...

I prayed through these things.These prayer requests included many cares and anxieties. In my mind I took every one of them and threw them on God, following 1 Peter 5:7, which reads:

7πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν ἐπιρίψαντες ἐπ' αὐτόν, ὅτιαὐτῷ μέλει περὶ ὑμῶν.

See the word  ἐπιρίψαντες (epiripsantes)? It means "to throw upon," or "to cast upon." (See here.) 

Throw your cares and anxieties on God (on him), because he cares about you.

We see this throw-word epiripsantes in Luke 19:35: They brought it [the colt] to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.

Throw your cares and anxieties on Jesus, like a rider throws her saddle on a horse. 

Cast the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 

Peter writes these words to Jesus-followers who are suffering persecution. Here is 1 Peter 5:7 in context:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Cares and worries work to "devour" us, to eat our insides away. Unattended to, they are toxic to our hearts. 

This is one reason I pray; namely, to care-cast; to burden-dispose. This is prayer as detoxification. I need to do this every day, and multiple times a day. Yesterday I was identifying each care request and playing one-way catch with God; throwing it to Him, never to be thrown back at me.

New Testament scholar Scot McKnight writes (I paraphrase): "Peter exhorts God's people to express a simple confidence in God's justice. By turning over our fears and worries to God, we express our trust in him and rely on him to bring about vindication and justice. The reason for turning over fears to God is because "he cares for you."  (McKnight, 1 Peter)

God cares for me. The cares and anxieties I face are rooted in devil-inspired injustices meant to weigh me down, discourage me, and ultimately devour me. To combat this I choose to engage in regular deburdening as an act of world-rebellion, a refusal to shoulder this world's injustices on my own.

Cast your cares on the Lord

    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 55:22