Devotional: Anxiety-Driven Prayers?

The Bible says to “cast all your anxiety on Jesus because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). But do you ever pray and find yourself more anxious? Often my prayers go something like this: Please, please, God make my daughter take her nap. Please, please, God don’t let those mosquitos get me today. Please, please, God help me get an A on this paper. Please, please! I hold my breath, my palms get sweaty, and my muscles tense. I’m praying, right? Shouldn’t it be helping?

You can always tell Jesus anything you want. He loves it when you come to him. Prayer is not about learning some magical formula or getting the words just right. But there can be ways we need to mature in our prayer lives.

My “please God!” is an immature prayer and is often an indicator of anxiety. I don’t really need my daughter to take a nap. What I need is for Jesus to care for me in my anxious moment. So I need to learn to take my prayers one step further. God, my hyper focus on getting an A in this class is revealing of some anxiety. Will you care for me right now in this anxiety?

Jesus may choose to care for me by showing me kindness or compassion. He might give me perspective. He may remind me of his character and that I can trust him. He may offer me his presence and sit with me for a moment in the anxiety. Or he may give me direction for how to write my paper. The ways Jesus cares for us may be different every time, but our job in prayer is to bring the anxiety to Jesus and invite him to come care for us.

It’s not wrong for me to pray that my daughter naps and for mosquitos to go away forever. Jesus can still answer those prayers and has total ability to do so. But maturing means growing in self-awareness. And my awareness today is that sometimes my “please, God!” prayers are signs that I need to spend a little more time with Jesus who cares for me.

Scripture To Pray When Anxious

Psalm 91:1-4

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 43:1-2

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

This post appeared on October 27, 2023, on the InterVarsity blog.

Kelly Aalseth is a Regional Coordinator for Leadership Development for InterVarsity in the Greater Los Angeles Region.

Glean more prayer help and spiritual resources for praying for/with patients on NCF’s website and in the Journal of Christian Nursing.


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