Tag Archives: anxiety

Worry Robs Our Rest

Don’t worry about anything.  Instead, pray about everything…(Philippians 4:6 NLT).

Do you have a problem with worry? Maybe you’re exhausted from worrying about everything from your family to the elections, to the economy, to the condition of the world.  But here’s some good news:  The Lord has given us a secret weapon to use against anxiety. He tells us we can overcome worry through prayer.

Now, I happen to be a world class worrier. I didn’t have to learn how to worry. It just came naturally as a by-product of an overactive imagination, a curious mind, and a relentless memory. Marriage and a family only brought more responsibility, and therefore more things to worry about.  I agree with my friend who defines worry with the acronym: W.O.R.R.Y:  Worry-Only-Robs-Rest-from-You. It’s true. Worry is exhausting.

 So as one who is prone to worry, I’m inspired by Paul’s letter to some persecuted Christians in the town of Philippi. They were always in danger of getting killed, and therefore had lots to worry about. “Don’t worry about anything,” he encouraged them. “Instead, pray about everything.”

I’m struck by that word instead. Paul didn’t just say to stop worrying. He said, instead of worrying, to pray.  He tells us to redirect all that furious, anxious energy into prayer.  To make worry work for us instead of against us!

I get that concept.  It sounds a little like a trick I learned back in high school when I took karate in between sports seasons. I was taught to use the enemy’s energy against him. A violent attack could be redirected to incapacitate my attacker.  The Bible reminds us that daily, we are in a spiritual battle.  So, in a similar way, prayer is one way to use the devil’s energy against him.

When we use all the energy (that we are not using for worry) on prayer,  we can begin to experience gratitude and peace, instead of anxiety.  Paul puts it this way: “Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.” Then, “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7 NLT).

Reminder: When you are tempted to worry, try redirecting all that energy into prayer!

(Adapted from Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars: Learning How to Hear the Voice of God,  By Marilynn Chadwick, Howard Books, 2012).

30 Days of Hopeful: Day 9

If we want to live in hope, we must guard against “hope-killers”—those pesky predators that seek to destroy our God-given dreams. One of the most insidious hope-killers is anxiety. Like a slow leak, anxiety drains out the belief that we can trust God with our future. It then fills us with a low-grade dread that steals our joy. No wonder mental health experts are disturbed by the growing numbers of those suffering from anxiety—now the most common mental illness in the U.S.

I’ve discovered a simple prayer that helps quench anxiety and build hope. It goes something like this: “Lord, I surrender this dream into Your hands. I trust You to answer my heart’s desire in a way that goes beyond what I even know to ask.”  In other words, “Surprise me, God, with more than I can imagine.”  I call this “praying beyond.”  This prayer is right in line with the Bible’s encouragement to entrust our dreams to the One “who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think  (Ephesians 3:20 NASB).

Praying beyond also helps me take my focus off the obstacles to my dream—or what I can see with my eyes—and fix my mind, instead, on God’s powerful promises.  Praying beyond moves me out of the realm of fear into faith, fueling my hopes and dreams. Taking new territory.  Walking on water.

Not too long ago, I was reading Ephesians 3:20 again—this time in a different Bible version. The words put a fresh twist on my “praying beyond” verse:  “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…”  (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV).

I continued to ponder the words “above all” as I went for a run: “God, maybe You’re encouraging me to look down upon my hopes and dreams as though I’m seated up above with You in the heavenly realm. From where You’re sitting, I imagine my hopes and dreams look pretty easy—nothing’s too hard for You.  I believe You’re able to do above all I can ask or think.”

I rounded the corner and jogged by several buses.  Suddenly, I had to smile as I looked at the name on the side of one bus. Seemed God was making His point loud and clear…and His answer was above all I could ask or imagine.


 Above All Charters



Day Nineteen: I Am Enough

Do you have a place where you sense the presence of God?  A favorite chair.  A quiet porch.  Out in nature?  My friend Kelly tells of a time and place when God revealed Himself to her, leaving her both comforted and awed by His majesty.

GUEST BLOG: Kelly Cowan

I found myself in a doctor’s office waiting room sitting across from a nun. Clutching my ipod, I did everything I could to talk myself out of getting sweaty and throwing up. I was wondering why the nun didn’t sense my stress and come over to pray for me. Then I realized I was giving her too much credit for being above what normal believers are gifted to do. I dismissed the presumptive idea. She went on to read her Friends of the Cross book delicately resting in her lap, robe flowing down to the floor. I sat and felt the temperature in the room rise.

It had been a series of very anxiety-filled weeks for me.  Waiting room scenarios like this one were fairly common. I had seen five specialists for multiple ailments.  Going to the Lord for strength and freedom on account of the same troubles again and again was making me weary. I sought the Lord in quiet times and prayer but nothing seemed to be enough. It reminded me of the Psalms where the writers are asking things like, Lord how long will you leave me here? My couch is flooded with tears all day long.

In 1 Samuel 7:12,  Samuel took a stone and set it up, naming it “Ebenezer,” saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”  I leave my “Ebenezer stones” in my journaling as a reminder of what God has done and where He has shown up.  Through a friend, I was encouraged in this season to return to some of my journal writing on anxiety. The Lord had already spoken a good word to me about fear and anxiety. Does that mean I wasn’t listening? Does that mean it didn’t work? No. It means I need that truth again. It means a new thing has risen up and I’ve been blindsided all anew. It’s like God is saying to me: I have already told you the truth. Believe upon it. It is enough, again. So I went back to my Ebenezers, with a heart ready to receive them again.

The entry in my journal was about a weekend away I’d had a while ago with my husband. We went to a beach here in the Northwest. At the time, I was feeling desperate to go on a walk to speak to God about my heavy heart. But it was raining like crazy. The Oregon beach, decorated with gigantic boulders and crashing waves, was deserted, for obvious reasons. But, I was finally without the kids and this was the time. I needed to pour out my heart to God. I bundled up in my waterproof rain shell and pulled on my knee-high rain boots. I began to walk straight into a sideways, stinging rain. I walked as far as I could barely able to keep my eyes open, as they were continually pelted. My talking it out was done, and my heart felt totally emptied. I turned around, finally able to open my eyes, with the weather now beating against my back.

The scene set before me was striking, yet chaotic. The sand whipping by my feet looked like hundreds of brown snakes racing past me, and the waves wildly crashed relentlessly against towering rock formations out in the water. The clouds hovered, so cold looking with their stoney gray texture and defined layers. Everything was stark. Powerful. And very wild. Yet in all the seeming chaos, I felt a truth reverberate through me: There was perfect order. Maybe that’s why I froze. It took my breath away. Just like my life, full of trial and anxiety, I felt piercingly certain that God was in control of all that was happening in front of me. And He spoke very clearly to my heart to clarify the picture He had painted for me: I. Am. Enough.  Hearing this as if over the loudspeakers, I was instantly stilled within. I did not feel crazy. Or scared. Or overwhelmed. I felt awed and small, but very, very thankful and safe.

As I stumbled a few steps further, I looked down to find a sand dollar. I picked it up. My Ebenezer, to remind me that God is enough.



Day Four: Let Go of Worry

This is Day Four of our 21 Day Watch.   Our faith grows as we become more alert to God’s presence.  One of the best laboratories of faith is learning how to trust God with our worries.  Not an easy task.  Especially when we’re worried about someone we love. My friend Leta has learned some practical and life changing tips in her war against worry.  I hope her wise words will help you gain victory  over anxious thoughts.

GUEST BLOG: By Leta Flowers

Have you ever been worried? I mean, REALLY worried? Think about a time when worry consumed you. Worry can turn to anxiety, which can even cause physical ailments. You feel all tied up inside. Worry can affect your stomach, your back, your neck, your sleep, your heart, and on and on. I read that the word “worry” comes from an Anglo- Saxon word meaning “to strangle or choke.” Makes sense.

 When my daughter was young, she developed asthma–the really scary kind of asthma where you can go quickly into a state of emergency.  I experienced a couple of trips to the emergency room, carrying her in with blue lips and unable to catch a breath.  So I developed an extreme case of worry that took my imagination to another level.

 When she was in gymnastics, I watched her. When she was on a trip with her school or with her softball or gymnastics team, I worried. Whenever I wasn’t with her, I worried. Would other people watch over her like I would? I took the reality of her illness past “what was” to “what if.”   What if she died? How could I survive? I became anxious and afraid. It was definitely unhealthy, and I knew it. Continue reading

Day One: God’s Fingerprints

So glad you’ve joined us for Day One of the 21 Day Watch. “Watching for what?” you may ask. Watching for signs of God at work all around us.  Looking for insights from His Word.  Watching closely for His “fingerprints.”  I’m asking God specifically to Open My Eyes so I may see Him more clearly.  God’s Presence holds the answer to all life’s problems. So why do we race around looking everywhere else for solutions?

The idea to do a  21 Day Watch was inspired by several recent conversations with friends.  Each confided they were overwhelmed by the same problem.  Anxiety.  They were consumed with worry about frightening events in the news.  Admittedly, the world can be a scary place right now. Terror attacks have been fierce. Persecution of Christians is at an all time high. Some say it’s the most dangerous time in history to believe in Jesus.

Frankly, it’s always been dangerous to follow God.  The Bible is full of examples of believers facing persecution.  John the Baptist met a gruesome death at the hands of the evil ruler Herod.  John had confronted Herod on his adulterous relationship with Herodias, his brother’s wife.  Herod wanted to kill John, but was afraid of the wrath of his followers.  The Message Bible tells us what happened next:

But at Herod’s birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “Give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.” That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it—ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother (Matthew 14:6-12 MSG).

Sounds remarkably like ISIS staged event.  But notice the reaction of Jesus to the death of His dearly loved cousin.  He doesn’t panic or lose heart. The Bible simply tells us He went away by Himself to be alone with God.  To be in God’s presence.  You can read the entire text by clicking here.

The biblical account tells us nothing about the grief He surely suffered.  But Jesus was fully human, so we must assume He needed time to process the tragedy, to pour out His heart, to be healed and strengthened by His heavenly Father.   Along the way, He is intercepted by a crowd of needy and hurting people.  Moved with compassion for their suffering, He heals their sick and even performs a miracle of feeding the 5000 plus.  God showed up big time.  I’m sure Jesus was exhilarated by this mighty moment.  But notice: He still needed time alone with God.

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.  (Matthew 14:22, 23 MSG).

Jesus needed time in God’s presence.  Time to pray, to heal, to grieve, to seek strength, to refuel.  Friends, if Jesus needed time alone with God, how much more do we?

My husband is fond of saying that kids spell love T-I-M-E.  I think it’s the same with God.  Time alone with God sets the stage to experience Him throughout the rest of our day. If you’re serious about this 21 Day Watch, I encourage you to carve out a daily T-I-M-E with God as your starting point.

Lord, renew my zeal to spend time in Your Presence.  Ignite my passion for Your Word and for prayer.  Fine tune my hearing to Your voice.  Make my eyes sensitive to Your slightest movement.  May I see Your fingerprints today.  -Amen.