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Anxiety Series: #4 Strategizing - Part 2

Continuing on from part one....
Prayer:

Obviously I just went through this one in more detail in Series #3, however I would be completely remiss if I didn't touch on this again. PRAYER is SOOOO powerful. God calls on us to pray (1 These 5:17-18), to come to him (John 3:16), to seek him (Matt 6:33). Prayer is the way to communication through the Holy Spirit, fellowship and relationship with God.


We really need to remind ourselves that prayer is a tool;

  • Prayer is purposeful - When you use a tool there is a point that you go to that tool to grab it to use it for which it was intended (yes, I am also one of those that may use it for which it isn't but for this we will pretend that isn't the reality it is.) Prayer, when you are fighting a battle, should look a lot like someone going into battle, focused, purposeful, ready for action.

  • Prayer takes commitment - I DO NOT have data to back this next statement but I am really confident when I say we have all said prayers just to say the prayer to get on with THE PRAYER. THAT isn't true commitment, I get its commitment due to the fact you are doing it to get through it. When I am talking commitment I am talking about you take this tool, come out purposeful and commit in your heart, and with EVERY CELL OF YOUR BEING that you are giving this to God. You want to know you are in a fight? This will be that time because you will fight your very self to get this to be a thing. Your doubt, your past perceived failures, your feelings of inadequacy, every doubt that God is or isn't real will potentially be present at this time. This is work, this tool makes you roll up your sleeves and dig in with every bit of strength sometimes. Then yet some days it's totally easy. Just know it will ALWAYS be work, it is the action God calls for us.

Commitment takes throwing aside every bit of doubt, fear, anxiety, needing to be in control of whatever it is you are bringing, and get rid of all that and come OPEN, EMPTY and READY to receive whatever it is you are asking. Commitment means "whatever the path is I am here and ready to walk it fully". Commitment means this may not look AT ALL like what you were hoping for BUT YOU DO IT ANYWAY because you know God has your path. Are you ready for that? It's tough, but dude this part is where the rubber meets the road and you go all in and God is allowed to show up. It's awesome.

  • Prayer takes setting time aside to fully give what is needed to that communication - Would you take a tool out and not give it the time it takes to use it before throwing it away because it doesn't work? No brainer, Prayer takes committed (yes, I am driving that in) time. MAKE TIME, it's not like the alternative of sitting in anxiety is more fun than talking with the Lord. The many people out there that won't make the time for God and then sit struggling day after day in the anxiety they have isn't exactly the answer either.

  • Prayer takes practice - Here is where honesty for most comes in, we all know prayer is important, but so many will say "I am just not good about prayer", "I don't know how to pray", etc.. PRACTICE, make the time, COMMIT and PRACTICE because soon practice turns into developed skills useful for the things we need them to be. Prayer is no different

  • Prayer takes faith - That commitment above doesn't work without faith. You have to know what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 states "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". You thought commitment was hard? Now understand that faith is trusting in something you can't necessarily prove to people. People can see outward manifestations of faith but no one can actually see your faith. This is you and God, this is personal, this is the true inward heart of who you are in Christ. Are you in Christ? Is Christ in you? only YOU can answer that. Faith is what activates ALL of this. You can't fake faith with God.

Through faith comes that trust that he will be there when he says he will. I promise you that prayer leads to some serious ability to gain and grow in faith from God because he is true, he is faithful to us, and he will back his faith in your life as you let him. I know you are tired of hearing this but faith is action, faith takes believing, and walking out on. These are those times that faith is seen in more people, during times of trials. Faith is the action you take in prayer that says you are all in and ready to walk out on what God has for you. Faith also takes the knowledge that the path you are given isn't the one you had planned, yes, I went there again.

  • Prayer is an act/a walking out/action - This is your statement to God that you know who he is, you have gone through all the above to be ready to walk out and know that you left it all here with God and are ready to go forward, free from the burdens you left behind in prayer. Philippians 4:6 calls us to be anxious for nothing THROUGH prayer, and supplication, with thanksgiving, and letting our requests be made known to God. Prayer is the action to the belief that God says "be anxious for nothing" AND he states in 1 Peter 5 to "cast our cares on him". We cast our cares through prayer. This seriously is a geek moment for me because I find ALL this completely amazing, beautiful and worth all the work it takes.

When I go to God in times of anxiety ridden prayer I remember Philippians 4 and I come to him with EVERYTHING. I release the issue at hand to him, I talk through it and I give that all to him. Sometimes it's in complete detail and sometimes shorter and to the point "God this {insert issue} is more than I can handle and I NEED you to take this from me". I give God the stuff I have done that probably didn't help because, well I'm not perfect, and usually I add to my own anxiety with my responses to it. I give him the good, the bad and the ugly and cast all that upward until I am emptied of all of it. Again, if I missed saying this takes work, it takes effort, and it sometimes takes me fighting my brain interjecting what I just handed over.... These are the moments that I laugh at how insane I would sound if people really knew what I was dealing with some days. I have committed to God's promise that I am to cast it all to him, to be anxious for nothing, and if that means I have to take a minute to argue with my brain? That it doesn't get to bring that back down to me? Well then we now take a minute to fight (I seriously argue with my brain like it's separate some days from me) and find other things to distract those thoughts away from what it needs to let go of.



OK, so when I have BIG issues I'm dealing with, I usually do all this with a hedgball/hedge apple that I get from my yard. It's my thing, (Just when you thought I couldn't get more weird, BOOM there it is). I am visual and when things are this big I SUCK at handing them all over and not keeping a piece to hang on to in case God doesn't handle things the way I want (yeah, I never said I was smart, that even SOUNDS dumb, and yet I do it time and time again). This started when I was in my 40's cuz, well, I am a SLOW learner and giving EVERYTHING over to God has just not been my thing. I had just been diagnosed with cancer and I just had this huge weight, and everything and everywhere I went had this darkness to it, hard to explain but something I didn't want to live with anymore. I stood one morning in my living room and prayed everything, the cancer, the fear, the fact God had given me 6 children after ALL the years trying and this was how this ended? I prayed that all this was TOO HEAVY, too much, I couldn't do it alone, I held my hands in front of me and pictured a basket and prayed it all in to there and then I literally handed it all over to God. I told him he knew I suck at listening so shout, KICK OPEN THE DOORS to the extent I heard the foot hit the door, and I would walk 100% out on the path he had for me. I was ready, I COULDN'T do this without him. I reminded him that I would probably try to pick things up, but with everything I had I was working towards NOT being that anymore. That was when I got two separate calls from my Step-Mother in law and then my Father-in-law who both swear to me, and had been so busy they didn't realize they both had the same thing happen, they audibly heard God say I wouldn't die from this. Whether you believe in that or not, I did, and I walked out on that and II have never looked back.


So now I pray everything into that hedgeball I talked about, I feel the weight in my hand and just mentally pack everything into the hedgeball and feel the weight increase in my hand as I fill it with everything I need to let go to God and then I pitch it into the woods. Please note, I love the fact that the idea that ball will degrade, and then come back new and fresh is awesome. HOWEVER my hubby reminds me that now I'm going to have those trees all over and they can be a bit of a pain. NEVER THE LESS it's my thing, it gives me something I can see, feel and touch and THROW away from me giving that to God. Ok, except for the ONE time I did that and it was a thing I knew would be something REALLY hard for me not to hang on to. I laughed when my dog brought it happily back to me after I "released" it. I hadn't fully, I knew I hadn't, so I looked up and went "HA HA very funny God, I WILL let this go". I re-threw it and then put Systemic Theology by Wayne Grudem on Audible so I could keep that promise with keeping my mind occupied with the word vs my thoughts. THIS ISN'T EASY handing everything over and trusting through faith. It is work, but my life has been changed HUGE since the first time I did that. I have seen God so huge I will NEVER look back. I am just ONE story out of so many. Read the Bible, it is FULL of these stories. It's up to you to take these tools out to use them. What is the alternative? I have lived the alternative and I can honestly say my life has never seen this type of peace doing it my way.


Support:

Finding those people in your life to lend you support during high anxiety times can bring more than just comfort. Knowing you aren't going through whatever it is you are dealing with alone. Whether that be an online group, or whether that is in person, finding others that share in what you have going on can be extremely comforting and helpful. One big note on this is I would watch out for, even faith based "ministries", that "deal" with issues through anger, constantly living in vs growing through whatever it is you are going through and those that offer "fast/easy solutions" with out looking at what it is you are going through. An example of a good support person was as I was going through some really challenging times with one of my kiddos I found myself just at a spot that was unsure, worried and treading in ground I had never been. I was actually seeking someone else when my pastor just happen to be there instead. Granted looking back at that moment it's hard to NOT see God, at the time I had it set to go speak with another friend. Long story short, had my pastor not taken that time to see me where I was I wouldn't have gotten a talk that was from someone that not only had been where I was, they were still dealing with a lot of the same. He started off by saying he didn't have all the answers that I was seeking, but in just being there and helping me sort out some of the frustrations I was having, and understanding that I was not alone in dealing with what I was, changed that WHOLE situation from that point forward.


Between he and his awesome wife I had someone to lean on when I needed that, they both helped support me with my faith but also offered up a knowledge of where I was that not everyone had. Since then I have been able to be there for others BECAUSE of the love of God in the people who supported me. They built me up, they lifted me when I was frustrated, they listened, they guided, they were a critical part of the body of Christ right when I needed it. Finding a support team that brings you to a place where you can seek God with them is a great way to develop support that lasts.


Make sure that you are leaning in on believers that meet you where you are, support you through Christian based and backed principals and enjoy that God can work through them to help bring that love of God that is needed in times of anxiety, worry and stress.


There are SO many other ways to deal with anxiety and add more tools to that tool chest. I would LOVE to hear more of them. Please feel free to comment below as to ways these, or other "tools" have been used out of your own toolbox.

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