When I was five years old, I actually believed there was a monster living underneath my bed and I would get very afraid. With my heart pounding, I’d bury my head underneath the covers and wait for it to go away. But when that wouldn’t work, I knew that if I could jump out of bed really fast and make it to my parent’s bedroom then everything would be okay.
Kids understand when they’re feeling anxious and afraid, they need perspective. They instinctively know that if they can get near a big strong, powerful person whom they trust then everything will be okay.
As adults, we still need someone who’s “bigger” than us to help us and give us peace and perspective when we’re feeling fearful and anxious. Just like the child who knows that mom or dad is going to take care of their problem, we can know that our heavenly Father will take care of our problems, too.
Many of us are constantly living in a state of worry and anxiety. As a result, increasing numbers of us are suffering from emotional issues such as panic attacks, depression, and physical problems such as high blood pressure, headaches, and stomach pain.
But beyond the emotional and physical toll, anxiety also affects us spiritually. Anxiety actually separates us from God and prevents us from living out God’s truth. In our fear and worry, often we start believing things like, “God, you can’t handle this…” or “God, I don’t believe you care.” Instead of running to God’s arms and getting the comfort and help we need, we get preoccupied with our anxiety and turn away from Him.
But God wants to be close to us. He wants to comfort us and help us overcome our anxiety and worrying! He even designed a specific way for us to do it: Prayer.
Philippians 4:6-7 says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God commands us to stop worrying about anything and start praying about everything. And He promises that when we do, His peace will guard our hearts and minds. This is the kind of peace that’s rooted in the assurance of our salvation and knowing that God is in control no matter what we’re going through.
So how do we pray in order to get God’s peace? This isn’t the kind of prayer where we just rant and rave and complain to God. Although it’s good for us to bring our complaints to Him, if this is all we do in our prayers, we won’t experience His peace. We also won’t get closer to God and build our faith.
Instead, when we pray we should begin with praising and worshipping God for who He is – as an all-powerful, all-wise, all-knowing and loving God. This helps us to put our problems in perspective. In light of a huge, powerful God, our big problems suddenly begin to get a whole lot smaller.
We also need to offer God our gratitude. With each and every aspect of our prayer, we are to freely thank Him. Why? Focusing on what God has already done for us in the past helps us to put our current problems in perspective. It also helps to build our trust in Him.
And finally, we need to offer God our petitions. This means we need to turn our anxiety and worry into specific requests, which we offer to God.
Instead of praying very general prayers of, “God, please help me!” or “Fix my marriage!” we need to get very specific. Prayer such as, “Lord, help me to forgive this person” or “God, please help my husband and I to communicate better.”
So when anxiety knocks at the door of your heart, let prayer answer. Not just a general prayer or only a venting prayer, but one with adoration, petition, with thanksgiving and specific requests. God wants to comfort you and give you His peace, and He wants to help you with the problems that you can’t solve on your own.
This week, we’re beginning the series: Less Stress. In it, we’ll learn how to stop stress before it starts and how to diffuse the pressure in problem relationships. If you’re one of the many people who are experiencing overwhelming stress and anxiety, my prayer is that you’ll join us for this series and begin to get relief from stress’ devastating mental, emotional and physical consequences.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip