How to pray when you're feeling anxious
How do I pray in times of anxiety?These are anxious times. We are stuck at home. The economy is unstable. The job market is uncertain. The country is polarized. The world needs healing.
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.
"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:
Studies show that being altruistic has physical and psychological benefits. Doing something good for someone else releases endorphins for both you and the recipient, gives you a sense of satisfaction, and distracts you from your problems long enough for you to feel grateful for what you have. While our prayers are often focused on our own environment, when we focus our prayers on others and for peace, healing, joy, life, abundance etc in their lives, we reap physical and psychological benefits as well. Follow that up with listening to God and responding with altruism and the anxiety in your life will lessen. It might not happen instantly but the benefits of what I like to call "Holy Mischief" are multifaceted and far reaching.
May God not only answer your prayers but shape you into the courageous prayer warrior He created you to be. May your words call forth heaven into earth and transform not only your heart but others as well.
Until Everyone Hears,