This is often easier said than done. I have struggled with anxiety most of my life and often find it hard to let go of my worries. There was one day that I had been worrying about a particular situation and it dawned on me. How much time have I actually spent praying about this situation versus the time I have actually spent worrying about it? If I was honest with myself, I really hadn’t prayed about it hardly at all. Maybe once or twice-for a second. I really had just spent many hours worrying about it, letting it rob me of peace and joy. It was then that I realized that maybe my problem is that I actually have to pray about the situation with a deep faith and then I will stop worrying about it excessively.
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your request known to God. Then the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”~Phillipians 4:6-7
How am I just supposed to just let go and stop worrying about it? There were times that I found that praying did not actually help, but made me worry even more about my problems and my fears. Prayer had become another way to ruminate about the situation instead of giving it over to God in trust. So, I stopped praying about the situation and tried to ignore it in an effort to stop worrying. The problem is, the worry just kept coming back. I came to realize that it was the way I was praying not the prayer itself that was my problem. I was not praying with thanksgiving and expectant faith in my heart. A faith that believes wholeheartedly that God has the power to do that thing that I need, and trust that if He doesn’t that He is still good and is with me or the other person in that painful situation. A faith that knows that God is working in my life and the life of others no matter how difficult it may be. A faith that knows that Emmanuel- God is with us. This is the kind of prayer that brings peace and hope to the heart and mind, and relaxes the worry.
Change Your Thoughts and Prayers, Change Your Feelings
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heart and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.”~Philippians 4:8-9
This is the basis of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Change your false thinking and you will change how you feel. Prayer is a very powerful way to change our thoughts to that which is true and stop the thoughts which are based on false thinking. I found that once I started praying with faith and hope and thanksgiving in a good and loving God, that my worries lessened and things actually did start to change. My prayer went from a desperate, “Please God, do this thing” all the while not really believing He would. To, “God, I believe that you have the power to do this thing. I believe that you are with me and with this other person. I ask you to change this situation. I trust in you no matter what happens that you are present in my life and that other person’s life. That you will be there through the sufferings and the joys. That You have the power to bring good out of evil. To make all things new.”
I do no mean to give the impression that prayer is only a psychological tool used to combat anxiety. Prayer is primarily a relationship with our Living God. However, I do believe that God created us a whole person-body, mind and soul- and we cannot separate our parts. He created our psychology and so it makes sense to me that prayer would help our mind and body as well as our soul.
Rest in His love
So, if you are excessively worrying about something. Give it to God in trustful prayer, rest in His love. Place your trust that He really is working in your life and the lives of others. I have found that it is in actually letting go of what I cannot control, that I can then think clearly about the situation and be able to actually take concrete steps to do what I can to help the situation. In this way, I have seen God working in my life in both the areas under my control and beyond my control.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”~Matthew 11:28-30