How do I pray in times of anxiety?
People need Jesus now more than ever. That hasn’t changed but people may be more open to the inbreaking of the Holy Spirit in their lives. We have an opportunity to lead others there. But idea of sharing the good news of Jesus is held in tension to the anxiety we are feeling. We know that we can go to God in prayer and that God can even help us where we are but it is hard to pray with certainty when things are so uncertain.
On a personal note, praying during anxious times is very different than dealing with anxiety. Chronic anxiety is best treated with prayer AND medical care and/or counseling. I have dealt with anxiety with all of the above. What I’m describing here is dealing with an anxious environment. While this is not comprehensive, these three things can help you to pray when there is anxiety in your environment.
1) Do not fear:
You may have heard it said that the Bible says “Do not fear” 365 times. While that may be dependent on the translation you use, it does say that quite often. As Jenni Cantron says in her post, “How to Overcome Fear” Fear hides, isolates, and paralyzes us. Instead we should have courage. It is easier said than done but I believe the key is to take our fears to God in prayer and ask that he grant us courage. One Biblical example of a prayer warrior is Nehemiah. I describe his story and our current context in this video.
It says in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” One way to be courageous is to spread love. Do acts of Holy Mischief. It will strengthen you for something positive instead of reacting to something negative.
Let there be…” These three words are simple but powerful. They are about calling forth something into creation. Jesus taught us to pray so that things on earth could be as they are in heaven. When we pray like God prays and speak like God speaks we are calling forth something that God declared “good” into the uncertainty. Prayer is less about asking for something than it is about calling forth heaven into earth. When you are feeling uncertainty around you, say “Let there be _________” as part of your prayer. Peace, healing, joy, life, abundance etc are all acceptable words to fill in the blank. You may have others that are aligned with the kingdom of God. These are powerful words. They will bring order out of chaos and transform us in ways we cannot imagine!
3) Focus outward:
What is the history behind some of our historical prayers?
Covenant Prayer – John Wesley
“I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven. Amen.”
Instrument of Your Peace – St. Francis of Assisi
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we awake to eternal life.”
The Serenity Prayer – Reinhold Niebuhr
“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.