Beasts of burden
Of all the animals that come to mind, when you think of “beasts of burden“, surely sheep are not one of them. Beasts of burden are strong, usually larger animals; tame as sheep but not as dumb; domesticable as sheep but not as fickle. In our minds, we picture mules, horses, donkeys, oxen, buffalo, and camels.
Beasts of burden are by their very nature dependable, malleable, able to be lead, able to be taught, and most of all, they are strong and can carry, lift, pull, push, shift and bare loads several times their own body weight. None of these depictions of “beasts of burden” applies to sheep or, at least, any sheep that I’ve ever heard of!
And yet, the average Christians live their lives convinced that sheep are also beasts of burden. Yes, we quote Psalm 23 as often as we can to ourselves and each other with that self-reassuring look on our face, but the praxis of everyday life is anything but Psalm 23.
We struggle with doubt, death, debt, destruction, and disease and, we think that all of it is somehow to makes us stronger: stronger beasts of burden. And then the cycle repeats itself all over again with Psalm 23.
How many times have we left something at the altar in prayer just to go and take it back again before leaving for home? I know you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like a famous rapper once sang,
“Every night I talk to god, but he don’t say nothing back, I know he protecting me, but I still stay with my gat“.
Depend on the Shepherd
Christians are likened to sheep exactly because they are not beasts of burden. Sheep depend on the Shepherd for everything! Sheep are defenseless herbivores and by nature don’t have any of the predators’ tools to fend for themselves. Their teeth are made for grinding, not biting; their hooves are made for walking, not ravaging; their wool makes it easy for them to be ensnared on nearby branches and can, therefore, get left behind easily.
All of this betrays a deeper problem, a more foundational matter of faith. We believe that God is in charge in theory, but where the rubber meets the road, we always have a plan B, just in case God doesn’t come through or doesn’t come through in the way we wanted Him to. We pray and believe and then still decide to waste every waking moment worrying about the exact issue we left at the altar, in prayer and faith, last Sunday morning.
Dear sister, brother, no, I am not better than you at this, not by a long shot. But I do believe that a healthy diagnosis of our issue leads to a better solution. In my mind, the solution is to study our Bible more. I believe that this wishy-washy Christianity stems from a lack of a proper understanding of what Scripture says about prayer.
We are, unfortunately, confused, about how to pray, what to say, when to say it, how often should I bring up the same issue, and, most importantly, when to let it go. One verse teaches us “pray without ceasing“, another tells us to “cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you“.
So, which is it? Of course, it’s both! And should there be any confusion regarding why its both or my sanity in general, I would urge to look for that answer in prayer.
Never Carry Burdens
We were never meant to carry burdens. We are the sheep of His pasture and it is His will to give us good things. Sure life has struggles and testings but they are neither our loads to carry nor are they necessarily permanent.
I know it sounds like double-speak but the answer to a better prayer life is a better prayer life. Every time something comes up, do like Daniel, and run and hide in His presence: bring Him everything you got; He’s neither tired of hearing from you nor too busy to address you personally. In fact, He’s looking to hear from you right now!
- I would suggest thinking about how often we pray, how long do we pray and what do we say? If it is true that we believe that God the Father is our father, a casual “rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub, yey God’, simply won’t do. Notice, this has nothing to do with “what do we ask for”. The last time I spoke to my dad, I called just to see how’s he’s doing; I didn’t ask him for anything.
- Consider where and when do we pray? Is it in a rush between one bite and the next; is it in the car as we park to go to work: short and sweet as we think to ourselves “God’s not petty, He understands I’m pressed for time”. Moreover, is our “prayer time” full of distractions? Do you text while talking with your boss about a new important project or an upcoming quality review? Of course not! That would be disrespectful and rude and unbecoming of the situation. Consider this the next time you pray.
- What do we ask for? Jesus instructed us to ask for the Father’s will “on Earth as it is in Heaven”. Is that what we’re asking for, His will? Too often in our Walk, we ask for what we know is not good for us, then, when God doesn’t come through, we sulk at best or walk away at worse.
- So the question comes naturally: what should we pray for then? That question answers itself in prayer. Spend time with God in prayer, and the Spirit, who knows all things, will pray “with groanings too deep for words” as Scripture teaches us.
Bondservant to Jesus, Married to Michele, Dad to Madelyn, Claudia, and Joseph and educator by trade. Antonio loves to read, write, and discuss all-things-apologetics. He has many passions in life including reaching, teaching, and keeping men for Jesus Christ. Waiting on God’s big reveal: Antonio knows He has something beautiful in mind.