One Prayer to Overcome Despair. Who knew it could be so easy.
God occasionally visits me in my dreams to reveal me something He wants me to pray about or tell me something He wants me to do. One such dream happened while I was under a heavy burden from some extreme personal difficulties. In my dream the Lord asked me to go to the University of Aberdeen.
The next morning, I research the school and discovered it was in… northern Scotland! But I’m in Atlanta, Georgia! And it’s the dead of winter! “God, why do you want me to go to a university in northern Scotland? I’m middle aged, married, and broke. It made no sense to me. So, I ignored it and wrote it off as a case of bad pizza.
One month passed and the same message came to me a second time. Again, I asked God why he wanted me to go to school in Scotland. His reply was, “I don’t want you to attend the school. I want you to go to the school and the city to pray.” Three weeks later I was flying over the North Sea on my way to… you guessed it, Aberdeen Scotland. Though completely unsure about what I was supposed to pray about, I truly felt God’s grace for the journey and whatever was ahead.
As we entered Scottish airspace my easy-going flight took an abrupt reversal. Without warning, I was suddenly and forcefully overcome with an unbearable sense of despair and hopelessness. It was so severe it took my breath away and left me weeping like a person in deep mourning. It literally felt like the despair was pulling into a black hole and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
I sat there in agony, weeping un-consolably for the remainder of the flight, trying as best I could to hide my tears and the pain. Thankfully I was able to compose myself enough to make it through customs and collect my luggage without drawing undue attention.
The rest of the day was an emotional struggle. I barely had an appetite and spent much of the evening sitting in the floor of my hotel room sobbing to the point of exhaustion. I was so confused by what was going on. Did I make a mistake? Did I miss God?
I had no idea what to do with that much despair. It was nothing short of horrible, and all I could think about was how to escape from it, even if it meant returning to the airport for the next flight home.
Thankfully, later in the evening, I was finally able to sleep, though it was very short lived. About 3 a.m. the Lord awakened me from a deep sleep. With the storm of emotions subsided, He simply and quietly spoke to me, “The despair has no place to go, because the people have chosen to bear their own burdens.”
In an instant I knew why I had been so overwhelmed with pain. God had allowed me to feel what it is like when the pain has no outlet, when it has nowhere to go. What He spoke to my heart combined with the experience of ravaging despair gave me the exact prayer I was sent to pray.
So, in the wee hours of the morning God led me to pray a very simple but powerful prayer. It went something like this.
Heavenly Father, on behalf of this city, I ask that you forgive the people for believing that they must bear their own burdens. Forgive them for all the ways they have tried to provide a solution to their own pain apart from you. The fact that I can feel it so strongly is because I have done the exact same thing. Lord, I ask that you forgive us for not turning to you with our burdens. Forgive us for not casting our cares on to Jesus.
Forgive us for all the ways we have tried to cope with our burdens instead of giving them to you.The alcohol, the drugs, the hopelessness, the despair, the nasty attitudes, the multiple addictions, and disorders are simply a result of our vain attempts to be our own salvation. Lord, I ask that all these coping mechanisms would be crucified on the cross of Christ and made completely dead.
Father, you never intended for these people or any people to bear their own burdens. You sent Jesus to do that job. So, I ask forgiveness for our unbelief in your grace and mercy. Resurrect this city and its people to a new life in Jesus so they can take hold of Christ being their Burden Bearer for every pain and care. In Jesus name Amen.
Before my trip to Scotland, I had never really understood how much Jesus not only desires to bear our burdens but is the only person with the capability to do so. We were never created with a burden bearing capacity.
God did not create us to bear our own burdens, although he does sometimes give us the grace to bear those of others. But it is always for the purpose of intercession. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus describes what it is like when we experience him carrying our load. He said, “My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”
That means when we try to carry our own burdens our minds and emotions are continuously weight down. It causes us to spend a great deal of mental and emotional energy trying to strategize our own salvation.
Some people think it irresponsible not to carry their own burdens. The opposite is true. Actually, it is more irresponsible to judge that your ability is somehow greater than Gods’. Because if we could bear our own burdens, then technically they would not be a burden.
Don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting that we shrug off the daily activities of life that require our time and attention. I’m talking about the way we let the problems and difficulties of life, the worry and stress of life, the setbacks, and disappointments of life to weigh us down or tempt us to believe we must provide for our own security, peace of mind and hope for the future.
You may also be thinking, “How could I possibly turn that much of my life over to someone I can’t see? How do I know He will take care of the things that concern me?” Believe it or not, that is exactly where you start. God knows you don’t know Him, and He knows you don’t trust Him.
But it is His job to show His faithfulness toward you. It is your job to tell him your fears and confess your unbelief so you can receive His love in return.
During my trip to Scotland, God allowed me to bear in my emotions a very small portion of the sorrow and despair of one city, and it was truly more than I could handle. But God sent Jesus to bear every burden, not just for Aberdeen but for every city, for every individual, for all of time. That is exactly what he did on the cross.
So, how about we get this ball rolling? After all, what do you have to lose other than a load of burdens? I’m not suggesting that one prayer will fix everything, but you have to start somewhere.
Heavenly Father, I bring the burdens of my life to the cross. They are truly more than I can handle. But you already knew that which is the exact reason you gave me a way of escape through your son Jesus.
In an effort to provide my own sense of security, peace and wellbeing, I have taken on a multitude of burdens you never intended for me to bear. Father, forgive me for believing that I could be or should be my own burden barer. I really did not know what I was doing.
Everyone around me does the same thing. I never knew I had a choice. Thank you for loving me and covering me in my ignorance and providing a way of escape before I even knew I needed it.
I ask for your grace to enable me to truly cast ALL my cares on to Christ. And even though I don’t completely understand what it means to cast my care on you, as an act of faith I commit it to you anyway. I ask that you transcend my limited understanding and open the door of my heart and mind to receive what you have for me.
Lord, as an act of my will, I chose to trust you to take care of the things that concern me, and I give you permission to show me all the reasons why I don’t. Resurrect me in Jesus with the capacity to believe upon you more easily. Help me to trust that you will work out the details of my life in the ways that are best and for my good. Continue to show me all the places I am trying to bless myself or provide for my own salvation.
Father, I ask for a new heart and mind that I may take hold of what I need from you. Create in me something that does not presently exist so I can experience your kingdom, not only in this life, but also in the life to come. In Jesus Name, Amen.