“The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”
Psalm 27:1, NLT
"I'll pray for you.”
How many of us have uttered those words, with no intention to do what we just promised? Or, if we did have good intentions, did we follow through?
In How to Pray, A Simple Guide for Normal People, NavPress author Pete Greig writes that the best advice he ever received about prayer was this: Keep it simple, keep it real, keep it up.
Prayer is a request for help or expression of thanks. Seems simple. Why do we find it so hard? And why do so many of experience anxiety when asked to pray publicly? Pray? Out loud? I don’t know how!
As much as we’d hate to admit it, prayer is not a discipline many of us have practiced. And in fearful times, we often we find ourselves caught up in spirals of anxiety. Instead of bringing our concerns to God, we spend time worrying.
As believers, we need to dedicate ourselves to prayer, especially in uncertain times.
The Basics of Prayer
Timothy Keller, pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, defines four traditional forms of prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. He writes that these forms are “concrete practices as well as profound experiences.” He continues that “prayer is both conversation and encounter with God . . . . Prayer, then, is both awe and intimacy, struggle and reality.”
- Adoration: “But I will keep on hoping for Your help. I will praise You more and more.” – Psalm 71.14 (New Living Translation)
- Confession: “And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” – Matthew 6:12 (NLT)
- Thanksgiving: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of Thanksgiving.” Psalm 28.:7 (NLT)
- Supplication: “Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.” – Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NLT)
Worry is a Life or Death Issue
In Praying Through, NavPress author Jarrett Stevens writes about a well-known fable in which a man comes face-to-face with the dangers of worry:
One morning, a man was working by the city gates when he saw Death walking toward his city. This gave him great concern. The man asked Death, “What are you on your way to do?”
Death answered, “Today, I am going to take the lives of one hundred people from your city.”
“That’s horrible! How can you do such a thing?” the man demanded.
“Well,” Death told him, “that’s what I do. My name is Death, after all. It’s literally the only thing in my job description.”
Panicked, the man frantically ran ahead to the city and warned everyone of Death’s plan.
That evening, he met Death again.
“YOU LIED!” he yelled. “You told me you were only going to take one hundred people. Why did one thousand people die?
“Oh, I kept my word,” Death replied. “I only took one hundred people . . . worry took the rest.”
Stevens’ fable demonstrates how worry spreads like a destructive weed, negatively influencing even our physical health. Worry and anxiety can trigger an increased respiratory response, a hyper cardiovascular-system response, weaken immune functions, and even cause changes in digestive function. So how do we fight against worry, especially when our world seems to be crumbling around us?
Fight Worry with Prayer
“When you find yourself beginning to meditate in the wrong direction,” Stevens writes, “God invites you to redirect your thoughts and fears to him. Turn your inner monologue into an open dialogue with God. Let Him in by bringing your worry into the light. The simplest way to do it is to just tell him what you’re worrying about in the moment, however big or small it may be.”
What is keeping you from being vulnerable with God? Pride? Fear? Don’t complicate the simple. Talk to God. Bring him into your life and bring yourself into a relationship with Him.
The best instruction comes from God’s Word. In Philippians 4, we’re given this direction and encouragement: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”
Several Tyndale House Publishers and NavPress resources on prayer include: