Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Praying, Burden-throwing, and the Coronavirus

(Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio)

I go to a time of praying today carrying a list of burdens. People send me prayer requests. It is an honor to shoulder these burdens in prayer today. 

These are heavy times around the world, with the fear and panic caused by the coronavirus. And, I have my own burdened heart? What shall I do with these burdens? Here is what I wrote in my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my solitary praying place at Sterling State Park on Lake Erie. I was carrying pages of burdens. I sat on the shores of the lake and read through these prayer requests that were sent to me. I prayed through them. 

These 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 directs me to “throw” my cares and anxieties on him, because he cares about me

The word “throw” translates the Greek word epiripsantes. It means “to throw upon,” or “to cast upon.” We see epiripsantes in Luke 19:35: “They brought it [the colt] to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.” 

Anxieties work to “devour” me and eat my soul away. Unattended to, they are toxic to my heart. So, in my praying, I engage in care-casting. I throw burdens on Jesus, like a rider throws his saddle on a horse. 

The Amplified Bible reads: 

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. 

This is praying as constant detoxification. I do this each day, multiple times. Scot McKnight writes: 

"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.”" 

Cares and anxieties are rooted in devil-inspired injustices meant to weigh me down, discourage me, and ultimately devour me. I therefore engage in regular deburdening as an act of world-rebellion, and a refusal to shoulder this world’s injustices on my own. 

I cast my cares on the LORD and he will sustain me; 
he will never let me be shaken.

Psalm 55:22; personalized

See also:

Churches Produce a Vaccine Called "Hope"