Cast all your cares upon him for he cares deeply about you.
Its a great little passage of new testament scripture but used more often than not as a cliche or throw away line from a ‘sincere’ care giver.
But this casting or letting go of ‘our cares and woes’ is a method that counselors and therapists have used for centuries in the treatment of emotional and mental afflictions.
In essence, Jesus is offering to be our counselor… our therapist. An offer you should seriously consider… his rates are quite reasonable.
Here is a little prayer practice of mine that I use in my own quiet times and in larger group training sessions on identity and creativity.
Find a moment for yourself, somewhere quiet… preferably in a comfortable chair or sofa (though I occasionally do this when walking early of a morning).
Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a very safe place, perhaps somewhere from your childhood, your favorite holiday location, or protected place on a beach, or on a swing in a park. Mine is usually on a rock by a lighthouse looking out to sea… my favorite private haunt when I lived in (and when ever I visit) Sydney.
Once you can see yourself in that safe place imagine if you will, Jesus sitting beside you. In his hands is an empty cane basket. The basket is there for you… for your fears, concerns, angst and so on… all the things that are weighing on your mind.
In this imaginary place, take one troubling thought (at a time) and place it in the basket… and then let it go. Can you see it drop into the basket? It is important to see or sense it leave your care.
Letting go is part of the process.
When you let go, the ‘thing’ is no longer yours.
Now try another trouble, fear or emotional pain. It could be a stressful relationship, an illness, a sense of guilt or failure, an overwhelming debt or a difficult decision concerning a future event. You know its name and what hold it has over you… and once again you imagine yourself placing it in the basket and letting go.
This is one method or practice that can become a lifetime skill… some days it may just be that one big ‘thing’. Other days you may need to stay a while, handing over one ‘thing’ after another until you are free of the anxieties holding you down.
You can pay a therapist a lot of money to bring you to the threshold of ‘letting go’. Sometimes we do need the help of a trained counselor. However, this kind of practiced prayer, just like a good belly laugh, can often provide the medicine our soul requires.
Once you feel that you have emptied yourself of your burdens (all that you are aware of) imagine Jesus picking up the basket and taking it away… removing it from your sight.
How does it feel to have handed over each of these concerns or thoughts? Can you sense a lightness in your heart? Or do you need to stay a little longer in this place of ‘letting go’?
When you leave this quiet contemplative state of prayer you may find that some of these concerns return. Don’t worry, this is a prayer that can be practiced over and over again… any time… any place.