A rest for the heart

by Ali Hoffman

North Texas Catholic


lady resting near lakelady resting near lake
Sasin Tipchai on pixabay.com

I think we can all agree the COVID-19 global pandemic has hit all of humanity in one way or another. From cancelled rites of passage for students, such as prom and graduation, to loss of jobs, income, and safety, this pandemic has brought a lot of people to their knees. For me, I entered the shelter-in-place with the foolish thought that this will all be over in two weeks, that life would return to normal, and I just had to get through it. I’ve been “sheltering in place” for two months now, and it doesn’t look like life will return to normalcy anytime soon.

One constant in my life has been my prayer life. I’ve realized how much I crave routine, a schedule, and order. I truly desire to bring stability into this chaos to give myself some sense of balance when I feel like the ground is shifting underneath my feet. I used to always think prayer was just conversation with God, which is a great way to explain to someone who is just starting a prayer life. But as I’ve grown in my relationship with God, my prayer life has expanded to a true rest of the heart, not merely conversation.

In Father Henri Nouwen’s book, The Way of the Heart, he explains that prayer should lead to a true rest. When we reduce prayer to merely conversation with God, those of us who are starting a prayer life can get easily frustrated because a conversation implies someone speaking back to us. So, when there’s silence or we feel like we’re just talking to ourselves, frustration can lead to abandonment of the whole thing altogether. The term “conversation” also can lead one to assume that it’s an intellectual pursuit — which may leave many of us exhausted or overwhelmed at choosing how to pray, instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to draw us closer to Jesus’ heart.

Lately, I’ll spend 30 minutes a day just repeating a phrase from Scripture over and over. Father Nouwen explains that by meditating on a simple phrase or part of a Bible verse, we’re allowing our minds to get out its distractions, stresses, and anxieties. Eventually what will happen is that the phrase will go from merely being repeated in our head to traveling to our heart, which is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).

In a pandemic world where life might feel very overwhelming, Jesus wants to remind us that He’s got us. God is still in the driver’s seat and still in control. He brings order into our chaos and remains consistent through the ages. I highly encourage you in your prayer life to go back to the basics: remind yourself that you are loved and created for purpose. You are chosen by God to live now — in 2020.

God is a Good Shepherd who leads His people to green pastures and into rest. My prayer for you, wherever you are in life, is that your eyes continue to be opened to the rest and restoration the Lord wants to give your heart, even in the middle of a pandemic.

girl resting near lake

I think we can all agree the COVID-19 global pandemic has hit all of humanity in one way or another.