Let us LABOUR therefore to enter into that REST –– Heb. 4:11 KJV (caps mine). On the surface, this verse contradicts itself. On the one hand, there is labor (note the English spelling); on the other, rest. Instead of “labor,” the NIV says “make every effort” and the English Standard Version, “strive.”
Rest is no small theme in the Book of Hebrews. It receives more than an incidental mention. The author compares the Old Testament Sabbath rest to Christianity, in that we are no longer doing “works” toward salvation (i.e. no circumcision, no sacrifices). As Christians, we “rest” in salvation because we just receive it by believing. But he warns us against lack of belief, because in the desert some failed to enter the rest of the Promised Land.
Prayer is not worry. It is not labor. It is ceasing from labors and allowing God to do the labor. It is ceasing from worry and purposely deciding to live by faith. A diagram might be more exact: we have worry –> so we pray –> as faith fills us in prayer, we rest with quiet confidence that God will do what we cannot. No longer feverishly agitated, we calmly go about our daily labors, trusting that God will bring the breakthrough we cannot order ourselves through our own cleverness or hard work.
It is easy to fall back into worry. That is why we must constantly oblige our nervous minds to return to faith — and thus rest — in the Lord. So prayer is rest, but not laziness. Being unconcerned about life is not what I’m talking about either.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. — 1 Pet. 5:7 NIV.