Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

I was scared as I opened the letter from the doctor’s office. I thought I was getting the results of my CT Scan that would show if I had developed any new aneurisms in the past year. I was scared for it could involve more surgery or worse.

I had just read that day the way to overcome the “What ifs?” is to replace them with “So, whats?” The belief behind this statement is God works all things for our good (Romans 8:28-29). As I nervously tore open the letter, I kept repeating “So what, So what?”. I was hoping my anxiety level would be no higher than level 3, but it was closer to a 7 out of 10. It turned out not to be the report on the scan results but a change of appointment. I felt both relief and disappointment.

I spent a few minutes pondering what had just happened. I concluded I believed hearing the scan results merited a mild anxious reaction. However, my heart believed this event was a clear and present danger. My head believed if the results were bad and I would die I will go to heaven and it would be wonderful forever. I also believed if I had to go through another operation, God would give me the strength to endure.

However, my belief in my heart was different. If I were to die, it would be bad. Why? Perhaps it was a belief from childhood that death is the end of all pleasure. I also feared the possible pain would be overwhelming and my life would be miserable. No wonder I was so scared. I told the Lord we had some work to do to bring my heart beliefs into alignment with my head.

What we deeply believe largely influences our feelings- and our feelings influence our beliefs. We can’t ignore either one. We often downplay the feeling side of faith. We focus on right beliefs and don’t pay much attention to what our hearts depends on. This frequently comes to us through our screaming emotions.

So, if very afraid, we need to look at our beliefs.

  • If afraid of losing our jobs, perhaps we believe we are the provider and not God.
  • If fearful of displeasing a leader, maybe we believe our security and worth are determined by what the boss thinks and not by God.
  • If afraid of the future, we may be trusting in controlling the future and not in God doing it.

We change our feelings by changing what we trust in. Do we rely on lies or truth? We need God’s help to detect and let go of the lies many of us have clung to since childhood and embrace God’s loving presence that gives us peace and security (Psalm 139:23-24).

What is one thing you are fearing today? Ask God to help you discern what you are believing that is driving your anxiety. If it’s a lie, then ask him to help you rely on the truth. Even if it is the truth, claim his promise to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NAS).







Read Full Post »

Don’t Be Afraid

“Don’t be afraid” seems like a silly command. Does anyone want to be scared except for good reason, like getting off the tracks when a train is approaching? Yet, we seem to be afraid of so many things without good reasons.

God often told people not to fear. He told Joshua to be courageous attempting the daunting task of conquering the Promised Land. An angel told the shepherds not to be fearful of strange things that were happening as he announced Jesus’ birth. And Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid when they saw him walking on the water. Why were these people scared? Why are we so easily frightened?

Why Not be Afraid?

One big reason is we are not alone as we face what scares us. Though it seems we are alone since we don’t see, feel, taste, smell, or hear God, we can be assured he is always there protecting and guiding us.

Recently, I faced elevated blood pressure readings from my home kit. This scared me. By faith I pictured Jesus’ presence in the moment and I was assured I was safe because he was protecting and guiding me. I relaxed and my reading fell to normal.

To resist the temptation to be afraid trains us to rely on God’s help instead of our own. It often takes a lot of crushing before we release our grip on trying to control the outcome. God wants to change us into stronger people through the circumstances that scare us.

God loves us. We are his children and he is crazy about us. He is in complete control of our circumstances. Why would we believe he would allow bad things to happen to us if they did not result in an ultimate good, which is to make us more like Jesus? Sometimes, we may need to see the good from God’s perspective by relying on the truth that he will work our circumstances for our spiritual growth.

How Not to be Afraid

One thing we can do to avoid being afraid is to pray. God says, “Don’t be scared, but pray and you won’t be afraid” (Philippians 4:5-6, paraphrased). My experience is that this works sometimes, but not all the time. Sometimes I give up when this happens, but other times I keep pressing God until I find peace from him.

Also, we can ask others to pray for us. Even Paul was afraid. He asked for prayer for boldness, that he may be successful in the ministry.

Another way to not be afraid is to listen to God through his Word and not to Satan. God says we are safe. Satan says we are in danger. God says he loves us. Satan insists we are alone. God says we can. Satan says we can’t. Who we listen to will make a big difference in escaping our dysfunctional pasts and walking in the Spirit.

A final way to not be afraid is to be transformed. We need to be changed from being self-centered, leaving God out of our lives, and earning whatever we get. God will enable us to live for doing his will. Experience an intimate love relationship with him, and learn to receive his many blessings through growing in dependence on his grace. We will then experience greater peace and not be so afraid.




Read Full Post »

I ‘ve never met a person who thought they talked to God enough. Why don’t we? I suppose it stems from our desire and habit of living life without God’s help.

But In the last ten years, I have grown in my desire and capacity to pray and talk to God more. Why? Probably the biggest reason is that I know better how much I need his help to handle life’s challenges.

For example, as of yesterday, I am facing a wait on the results of tests to determine why my chest x-ray looked suspicious. Was it just scar tissue or was it something else the doctors saw. Why should I worry? I’m going to heaven no matter what.

But I still feel scared. How can talking to God help me deal with this?

This is how. Last night I asked God to give me some words to live by–so I could get a good night of sleep. The verse that came to mind was, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Clinging to these promises, I slept well last night.

Why Talk to God More?

There are many reasons to talk to God more–the following are three of the most important:

The first one is that we may grow into a more intimate relationship with him. He created us for intimacy. He loves us and created us for his purposes and pleasure. He enjoys it when we talk to him.

Another reason to talk to God more is so he can help us handle life. We were not meant to handle our problems alone. We are only fooling our self if we think we can do a better job alone than with God’s help. “Cast your burdens upon the Lord, and he will sustain you” (Psalm 62:8).

A third important reason to talk to God more is to change the world. God says,

“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like [yours], and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months” (James 5:16-17, NIV).

I assume you are like me and would like to have a better world to live in. This could be a world with better government, less disease, and more people finding purpose to life. If God can use the prayers of Elijah to bring about a drought that lasted three and one-half years, and controls the decisions of presidents (Proverbs 21:1), he can certainly use our prayers to change the world.

How Do We Talk to God More?

Talking to God more is not the problem, but is a symptom of the problem. Not praying much is not just a weakness but reveals our desire to shut God out of our lives and our lack of confidence that he will help us if we did ask him. To talk more to God, we need God to change us so that we rely more on the truth that “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

We also need perseverance in talking to God. He doesn’t always answer us the first time. He wants us to keep asking until we get a clear “Yes, “No,” or “Wait.” (Matthew 7:7).

Finally, we need God to show us what we are truly depending on to make life work. Is it our own wisdom and fortitude? Is it our managerial job we worked so hard to get and keep? Or is it good circumstances that usually come our way?

Do these things keep us from talking to God to make life work? Only God really knows, but we can ask him to reveal our heart to us and he will (Psalm 139:23-24). And may we have the grace to realize that God can do a better job than these idols in meeting our needs.

May the scales fall from our eyes and we realize how much God wants to bless and empower our lives, if we would only talk more to him. The writer of the book of Hebrews says,

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV).

Read Full Post »

Anxiety and Prayer

We were sharing prayer requests the other night in our bible study group, and two of us asked prayer for anxiety. One person had been struggling with anxiety for two weeks. I shared that I had been struggling with it for two months. Neither of us had a clear idea about what the cause was.

What is anxiety?

The dictionary says that it is a feeling of worry, unease, muscle tension, and fear. Anxiety does not feel good, as we all know.

So, how can prayer help? And what is prayer?

Prayer is simply talking to God.

God says prayer can help a lot with our anxiety. “Don’t be anxious about anything. Instead pray about everything that is bothering you. I will give you peace as you ask for My help. And don’t forget to thank Me for all the ways I am helping you” (Philippians 4:6-7, paraphrased).

But what if we don’t know what’s causing us anxiety, like my friend and I don’t.

God has an answer for this question as well.

“Ask Me to search your heart, and I will show you what is making you anxious. I will then lead you into experiencing My supernatural peace of mind” (Psalm 139:23-24, paraphrased).

However, we do know a lot of the stuff that is making us anxious. I learned years ago that when I took each known burden to God in prayer, my confusion would begin to dissipate. I would become clearer thinking again.

God promises us in Psalm 34:4 that, “If you seek Me in prayer, I will help you escape from your anxiety (paraphrased).”

But you may say, “I did seek God in prayer and I’m still worried–I still feel anxious. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with God?”

God encourages us not to give up on prayer. “Ask and it shall been given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7).

In other words, God wants us to be persistent; not to give up. We need to keep asking until he delivers us from our anxiety.

We need to keep in mind that God loves us. He doesn’t want us to suffer needlessly. He says, “Cast all your anxiety on [Me] because [I] care for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Yet, if we are honest, most of us experience anxiety because we stubbornly want to muscle our way through life instead of asking for God’s help. Often, we know deep within our self that life can overwhelm us at any time. And that’s scary. That creates anxiety in us.

Which can be good. I learned in seminary that anxiety is a call from God to pray. It’s the idiot light on the dashboard that says that there’s something wrong.

Somehow we have become disconnected from the reality that God Almighty loves us and is watching out for our best interest. Prayer can help us to reconnect to this reality.

So, as we experience anxiety, let’s not forget to pray. Let’s not just treat the symptoms of anxiety through relaxation exercises, enjoyable experiences, and sleep.

Let’s also seek to get to the source of our anxiety, which often is not resting in God’s care and protection through prayer (Matthew 11:28-30).


Read Full Post »