Thursday, October 5, 2017

Shaking Off Anxiety

Submitted by David Miller

Have you ever had one of those days where you just can’t shake your anxiety? No matter what you do, you can’t get your mind off of what is bothering you.  You try to pray, but the only words that come out are short, anxiety-soaked cries for help. Right after those short prayers you go right back to worrying.  I’ve been there. Truth be told, I have had my share of anxiety-ridden prayer sessions. Those prayer sessions remind me of a very important truth:  Prayer is not worrying on your knees.

If our anxiety level remains the same after we pray, something is wrong. Prayer involves trust. Prayer involves “casting all your anxieties on him” (1 Peter 5:7), not holding on to what worries us with an iron grip.  Sometimes it seems like, although you want to pick up your burdens and cast them upon the Lord, your hands have such a tight grip on your burdens that you cannot let go. It’s like someone super-glued worry to your hands, and it stuck so well that a crowbar couldn’t pry it off.  When you are fighting against worry, here are some insights that will help.

Don’t give up in prayer.
It is tempting to shoot off a quick three-second prayer to the Lord and think, “That should do the trick,” instead of laboring in prayer until you enter God’s rest. Pray in faith that God hears you, and keep praying for Him to help you not worry. He can take you from despair to joy.  Don’t give up!

Take your eyes off of yourself.
When we take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on God and others, we can escape the worry-trap in prayer because we are no longer our only prayer concern. There’s a big world filled with many problems. Put your hope in God and not in a perfect situation for yourself. An inward focus is enough to drive anyone crazy!

Trust in the promises of God.
Instead of clinging to what worries you, put a firm grasp around the powerful promises of God in Scripture, particularly those promises that deal with your specific situation. Your mind doesn’t have room for dwelling on both the bad and the good – so fix your eyes on God’s mighty promises, and remember how He’s never failed you in the past.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
Sometimes anxiety is downright irrational. This question often reminds us that our situation isn’t so bad after all. Sometimes the answer to this question is something truly bad, but more often than not, it shows us how we blow small things out of proportion and are worrying for no reason. Once we get a better picture of reality, we can do the next step.

Give thanks.
This is one of the biblical prescriptions for anxiety, along with prayer and supplication (Philippians 4:6-7). When we give thanks, we remember the good things God has given us, and gratitude floods our hearts. This will zap any discontent in our situation by focusing on the positive things that God has done for us and will continue to do for us.

As we set our gaze on the living Christ, we will gradually find anxiety’s tight grip on us loosen and the peace of God that passes all understanding giving our souls rest we long for.

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