I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth. — Isaiah 62.6-7
Rest is an unusual thing. It’s really rare that we find ourselves in a balanced, restful rhythm. We’re either exhausted, stressed, and over-stimulated, or sluggish, lazy, and disengaged completely. (That latter one is usually while on vacation, I think).
And certainly the bible has lots to say about rest. It’s in the ten commandments, of course. (“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” is #4, curiously above murder (#6) and theft (#8))
The author of Hebrews speaks of rest in a broader, metaphorical way, a promise of security found in the presence of God: “Now we who have believed enter that rest…” Hebrews 4.5
In almost all instances, rest is viewed as a good thing: a necessary thing—a commanded thing. The assumption is that we are prone to be busy and need to discipline ourselves to withdraw from our frantic activity, so that we can reflect on our faith and God.
But I came across an odd verse this week that has been bugging me in a good way. Tucked away in Isaiah 62, we read about rest used in a negative way. We are told to not rest.
“You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest…” Isaiah 62.6
Here is a plea for diligence, persistence, and commitment. And the context is prayer. If there is an area where we are too complacent and too readily give ourselves “rest,” it’s likely in the area of prayer. And so, as insightful as scripture is to our base desires to do the opposite of what we should, we are told to not rest in our prayer life.
But then the real kicker comes. Isaiah continues:
“…and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem.” Isaiah 62.7
Give him no rest? That’s right. Give God no rest. Bug him, nag him. Plead, beg, and cry out. Persist in prayer and bang on the door of heaven with earnestness and determination.
Of course God is never annoyed at our prayers or bugged with our persistence. He is the God who never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121.4), so you don’t have to worry about “waking” him. He is sovereign and omniscient, so you don’t have to worry about interrupting Him. He can multitask like no other.
He is always ready, always willing, and always delighted to hear our prayers.
And so we are told to persist. To pray again. To “remind” God.
And the irony?
When we persist in prayer, and "give him no rest", He actually gives us the rest we need.
The best sleep comes to those who pray.
Physical rest is given to those who refuse to rest spiritually.
So pray a little more today. Repeat prayers you’ve grown weary of stating. Re-energise your prayer life, and “give him no rest”.