The concept of “resting in the Lord” comes from Psalm 37:7, which says “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (ESV). This verse encourages us to find rest, peace and security in the Lord rather than worrying about wicked people who seem to prosper. So what does it mean to truly “rest in the Lord”?
Trusting God’s Sovereignty and Timing
A key part of resting in the Lord is trusting in God’s complete sovereignty and perfect timing. We can become frustrated that evil people seem to succeed while the righteous suffer. But Psalm 37 calls us to trust that God is in control and will act in His proper timing (Psalm 37:1-2, 7-8). Even when we don’t understand God’s plans, we can rest knowing He causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He promises to act on behalf of His people at the proper time (Psalm 37:5-6).
Examples in Scripture show God intervening to rescue His people at key moments. The Israelites likely wondered why God waited so long to free them from slavery in Egypt. But His timing was perfect to display His power (Exodus 12). God assures us He hears our cries and knows our anxieties. We can wait patiently for His intervention, rather than taking matters into our own hands.
Finding Contentment in Christ
Resting in the Lord also requires contentment in our relationship with Christ. The apostle Paul said he learned to be content in all circumstances through Christ who strengthened him (Philippians 4:10-13). Even when our circumstances are difficult, we can feel secure in God’s presence and promises. Jesus calls us to abide in Him, trusting that He will meet our needs (Matthew 6:25-34; John 15:1-11).
The psalmist exemplified finding rest and delight in the Lord above all else (Psalm 16:5-9, 62:5-8). He counseled his soul to hope in God, above temporary help from man (Psalm 42:5, 62:5). Though we face troubles, we can anchor our hearts in God’s steadfast love and rejoice in Him (Psalm 32:7). As we continually set our minds on Christ, we gain His perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3-4).
Waiting on the Lord in Prayer
An important way we rest in the Lord is through waiting patiently in prayer. Psalm 37:7 says we should “be still” before God and “wait patiently” for Him. This requires spending consistent, unrushed time to pray and reflect on Scripture. The Lord renews those who wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31). As we bring our cares and requests to God in prayer, we can trust Him to act for our good in His timing (1 Peter 5:6-7).
Waiting on the Lord through prayer demonstrates our reliance on Him rather than our own efforts. God calls us to wait patiently for His guidance and provision, rather than rushing ahead in our own wisdom (Psalm 33:20-22). Time spent waiting on God in prayer allows Him to refresh our souls, realign our priorities, and renew our strength (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8). As we wait faithfully through seasons of hardship, God promises to lift us up (James 4:10).
Casting Our Cares on the Lord
To rest in God fully, we must also learn to cast all our cares and burdens upon Him. Psalm 37 contrasts fretting over evil people with trusting and committing our ways to the Lord (Psalm 37:1, 3, 5). Similarly, 1 Peter 5:7 calls us to cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Rather than carrying heavy burdens, we can cast them upon the Lord by acknowledging our limitations and seeking His supernatural strength and peace.
The faithful example of Hannah illustrates casting cares on God in prayer. Distraught over not having children, Hannah poured out her soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:9-18). As we follow her example, God promises to exchange our despair for praise and joy as we rely wholly on Him (Psalm 30:11-12). As we release anxieties to God daily, He fills us with unmatched peace (Philippians 4:6-7). Our part is simply to trust Him fully.
Relinquishing Control to the Lord
At the heart of resting in God is relinquishing our need to control. Rather than trusting in our own plans and strength, we must surrender control to the Lord and rely on Him. By nature we want to be self-sufficient. But Jesus calls us to admit our weakness and depend fully on Him (John 15:5, 7-8). As we yield control to God, we can enter His rest (Hebrews 4:9-10).
The story of Mary and Martha illustrates the blessing of relinquishing control to Jesus. While Martha was anxious and burdened in serving, Mary rested peacefully at the feet of Christ (Luke 10:38-42). We can follow Mary’s example by abiding in the Lord’s presence, listening to His word, yielding our agendas to Him. True rest and refreshment for our souls comes when we surrender our striving and allow Jesus to carry our burdens (Matthew 11:28-30).
Embracing God’s Gift of Rest
Lastly, we must recognize that the ability to rest in the Lord is a gift from God Himself. We cannot manufacture this spiritually restful state ourselves. It flows out of His character and mighty power at work within us as we yield to Him. When we are weak, God promises His grace is sufficient and His power is perfected in our dependence (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). As we look to Him, Jesus gives rest for our souls that the world cannot provide (Matthew 11:28-29).
The author of Hebrews emphasizes God’s gift of rest for His people. After creating the heavens and the earth, God rested and blessed the Sabbath day (Genesis 1:31-2:3). In Christ, those who believe enter God’s promised rest from works and striving (Hebrews 4:9-11). As we fix our eyes on Jesus, God gives us His peace to guard our hearts and minds (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 4:6-7). This spirit of rest is a blessing we could never produce ourselves.
Practical Ways to Rest in the Lord
In daily life, how can we cultivate the habit of resting in the Lord? Here are some practical ways:
- Start each morning stilling your heart before God in prayer and Scripture. Surrender your agenda to Him.
- Throughout the day, pray short “breath prayers” releasing anxiety and trusting God in the moment.
- Take time for contemplative prayer, quietly resting in God’s presence.
- Meditate on and memorize Scriptures about God’s peace, comfort and rest.
- De-clutter your schedule by eliminating hurry and busyness.
- Reflect on ways God has demonstrated His faithful provision in the past.
- Share your burdens with Christian community and ask others to pray for/with you.
- Keep a journal to process worries and remind yourself of God’s promises.
- Refuse negative or anxious thoughts, redirecting your mind to praise and trust.
- Listen to worship music reminding you of God’s presence and peace.
The Blessing of Resting in the Lord
Though challenging at times, learning to rest in the Lord provides incredible blessing. As we entrust our cares, timing and control to God, we receive His overcoming peace and steadfast love. By waiting and praying fervently, we gain renewed strength and joy found only in Christ. Fixing our eyes on Jesus gives us quiet confidence to walk through any circumstance. God invites us to know Him as Father and experience His gift of deep spiritual rest. May we respond to His invitation with willing and dependent hearts.