As a young adult, I wrestled with a lot of anxiety, fear, and disappointment in myself. I erroneously thought I was supposed to have it all together and know all the answers, but I knew most assuredly that I did not. I felt like a fraud and failure. It finally took my older sister sitting me down and freeing me from my misguided thinking with five simple words. Nobody has all the answers.
I will never have all the answers. The longer I journey through adulthood, the more I realize how we are all still learning, still growing, and will never fully arrive at perfection on this side of heaven.
We want to feel we are being active and productive in the circumstances we face, but prayer requires us to relinquish control, which feels passive and powerless. I know I am very guilty of thinking this way, which is why I often spend a lot of time stewing in worry before I finally bring my cares to the Lord.
In truth, anxiety will never be able to fix a problem or accomplish anything helpful. Additionally, we dishonor and disobey God’s clear admonition to avoid anxiety and instead to depend on the Lord through prayer.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
A Prayer for Humility
A first step in abandoning worry is to humbly admit our limitations and acknowledge our complete dependence on the Lord. We cannot change people or circumstances. We cannot create answers where there seem to be none. We must confess our inadequacy and poverty and instead, claim our rightful place as those who must depend on God at all times. We will be far less inclined to persist in worry if we are regularly preaching to our hearts our need for dependence in prayer.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2
A Prayer for Worship
It is almost impossible to worry when I am worshipping God. Why? Because my focus is on God and who He is rather than the circumstance I am facing. I was once challenged by a godly mentor to worship and praise the Lord in my prayers before ever asking Him for anything. She counseled me to pray through His attributes and His names and to dwell in prayer on the meanings and significance of each. Not only did this extend my prayer time but by the time I had finished praising the Lord for who He is and what He has done, I hardly felt the need to make my requests known. Rehearsing the greatness of God in prayer not only gives honor to Him but does much to encourage and reassure my heart, to the point that I am able to end my prayers with full confidence that God will supply all that I need.
“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:1-2
A Prayer for Gratitude
How often do we pray for God’s intervention and working, but when He answers our requests, we don’t respond with a prayer of thanksgiving? I’m very guilty of this. I’ll be happy or relieved when things work out how I wanted. I might even tell my friends the good news. But all too often I don’t stop in prayer and acknowledge God in gratitude. Put another way, are your prayers of petition equal to your prayers of thanksgiving? My own heart has been very convicted about this disparity. Additionally, I have to admit that I also fail to thank God regardless of the outcome. Whatever God does in my life, whether it appears as good or bad to my human eyes, it is best. Even in the pain of an unwanted or difficult answer, I can and should thank God — thank Him for being in control, thank Him for doing what is best even if it hurts, thank Him for never leaving me and upholding me through it all. I think about the book of Job and the example his life gives us. As far as we know, Job was never told about what happened behind the scenes between God and Satan. And yet he was able not only to trust the Lord but to humbly admit his failings and proclaim God’s power with gratitude.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21b
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
Which of these prayers will you be praying today?
You may also be interested in A Small Book for the Anxious Heart and When My Child's Heart is Anxious.
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