By Bethany Allen
Listen to this short teaching as you prepare for this week's practice.
Read this overview
Most people, whether they are aware of it or not, are living with some form of low-grade anxiety. Between digital distraction, relational pain, and daily stress, many of us are carrying burdens much larger than we often choose to acknowledge.
This week we want to extend our practice of silence and solitude and focus on casting your cares and burdens on Jesus. We’ll do this through the practice of release. It involves five movements. 1) Create for yourself a quiet space to meet with God, 2) Invite the Holy Spirit, 3) Write, 4) Imagine and 5) Release. The goal is not to rush or to do an exercise, but to find freedom in entrusting yourself more fully to Jesus.
Begin with silence and prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Say a quick prayer to invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together. Then spend a few minutes in silence. Why silence, even while together? Because we live in a busy, noisy world, under a non-stop assault of distraction. In the midst of all the chaos, it’s hard at times to hear the voice of God, and that of our brothers and sisters. As we gather together as a family, we want to hear what the Father is saying to and through each of us, and respond in turn. A great way to do that is to begin each time with silence and prayer.
Debrief last week’s practice in small groups (15-20 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk about the following debrief questions:
- How did it go?
- Was it easy or difficult to “let yourself feel”?
- Were there any specific things you heard from God?
Open to the Bible together (10 minutes)
Have somebody read the following texts:
- 1 Peter 5v7
- Psalm 62v8
- Philippians 4v6
Talk about the following questions:
- In 1 Peter 5v7 we are told to cast all of our anxiety on him (Jesus) because he cares for us. Name 1-2 things you are currently anxious about. Do you ever question God’s care for you? If so, why?
- Psalm 62 tells us we’re to “pour out our hearts to God”, what do you think the writer means by this? If you have done this before, what did it look like?
- We are told over and over that God wants to take our anxiety and bear our burdens. For many this is hard to do. Identify and share two reasons this may be difficult for you.
Practice for the coming week:
1. Create for yourself a quiet space to meet with God.
- Set aside a modest time on a particular day (we estimate this will take 1-2 hours) to be alone with God. Find a time and place that is quiet and distraction free.
2. Invite the Holy Spirit to come.
- Now ask Him to show you areas of personal or relational fear/anxiety. Next, ask Him to show you areas of fear/anxiety associated with the present or future. Take your time and wait on the Holy Spirit.
- Ask the Father to reveal any areas of unbelief in your life where you don't believe the Father will care for you.
3. Write: Jot down and list these anxieties/fears down on a piece of paper. Take a few minutes to reflect on what you have written.
4. Pray: Pray and visualize yourself with the Father, and then, one by one, imagine giving (handing) each anxiety to Jesus.
- This exercise should create a mental snapshot of Jesus doing exactly what He says He will do (Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26). By handing Jesus your anxieties you are expressing your trust in His ability to take care of you.
5. Release: Once you’ve given all of your anxieties to Jesus in prayer, rip up each anxiety you wrote down and throw it away. This symbolizes that the anxiety has been given to Jesus and that you are now released from the weight and responsibility of the burden.
Work through these discussion questions (10-15 minutes)
- How do you feel about this 1-2 hours of silence and solitude? Scared? Excited?
- How could you incorporate this practice into your day-to-day rhythm?
- What is the importance of acknowledging/naming your anxieties and giving them to Jesus?