On Fear and Anxiety: Prayer is Never Easy
The prayer 🙏 hands emoji drives me a little crazy 🤪. It’s too easy. I’m afraid it is often an anxious response to a need presented on text media without having to really engage in prayer. It presents the opportunity to throw prayers heavenward with little intentional thought. With a few moves of the thumbs, we can react to a need at hand without really taking the time to position ourselves for prayer. Like I said, it's too easy.
Prayer is never easy. You and I could have a long talk about our struggles with prayer. We have had prayers that were answered soon after we prayed them and others we have waited for years to be answered. Some were answered, but not in the way we had hoped. Even though we struggle in our prayer lives, we keep praying. We believe prayer matters even though we don't fully understand its power.
I sat with familiar verses this morning concerning prayer:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
As I considered these verses, I thought about what a challenge it is to live without an anxious spirit, much less pray without one. Anxiety is often a motivation for prayer. Our anxious need to have God's intervention brings us to our knees. It's a conundrum, this bringing our anxieties to God without being anxious as we do it.
If I'm not careful when I pray, I'll go straight to the asking portion of prayer without considering how amazing it is to have been given the invitation to pray by the Holy and Awesome God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Anxious prayers hurry past the adoration of God and get to the point. (Yikes! 😬)
When I enter into prayer acknowledging the incredible privilege it is to be able to ask the God of this Universe for anything, it changes my perspective on prayer. I remember that prayer is not an entitlement; it is a gift. This positions my heart to pray humbly and with gratitude. These attitudes are keys to presenting our requests to God with confidence and assurance.
When we reduce Paul's instruction to "be anxious for nothing" to a command to not fret over anything, it seems impossible. How can we not fret when we are begging God to intervene in life and death situations? The struggle is real, but worth wrestling down.
Paul understood that when we find the place of gratitude concerning prayer, our hearts and minds will follow. Peace will settle upon our souls. We find assurance that we are not without hope for our needs. God is listening. He cares. He placed the stars in the galaxies, knows the number of hairs on our freshly colored hair, and knows the end from the beginning. This is the God who has asked us to pray. He hears and answers according to knowledge we cannot comprehend. We leave our requests before His throne and let him answer according to His purposes. We trust his heart.
Prayer takes intention---and practice. I’m not yet to the place where I am never anxious in prayer. I'm learning. When I stop and go to God acknowledging his power and wisdom, his goodness and mercy rather than anxiously needing for him to do what I want, I come away from prayer with peace. I rest in His love and know He cares for what concerns me.
Lord, thank you for desiring that I come to your throne to ask you to intervene and help, to heal and rescue. You have welcomed me and my needs, but too often I come to you anxious and afraid. Help me to understand that the prayer process itself is transformative. When I meet with you, I find peace as I remember all the ways you have blessed me. You act in your goodness and for this I am grateful.