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. – Philippians 4:6-7
The following is a passage from my prayer journal that I feel led to share. I am in a (hopefully short!) season of anxiety and frustration. But something I have learned is that God redeems our struggles by using them to not only teach us as individuals, but also encourage others. Even though I am in a challenging season, I know God is faithful to get me through it. The prayer below shows how I pray through and process through these unpleasant feelings in order to get to the root of the matter. I believe there is someone out there who will be encouraged and helped through reading this.
Lord, I am frustrated by your apparent silence right now. I have prayed fervent, strong, hopeful, specific prayers and yet I see no fruit. What is the point of praying for specific things if I cannot impact your work in my life or the lives of those around me? You said I can move mountains if I have the faith. I have plenty of faith and yet these mere hills I’m asking to move remain firmly un-budged!
When I pray for healing—for myself or another—why do you not heal? When I pray for the salvation of someone—why do you not reveal yourself to them? When I pray for guidance—why must I wait to hear your voice? Am I praying wrong? Is there a prayer secret I have yet to learn? I have prayed nearly every single day of my life and yet now I question much of it.
I do see the impact of certain prayers—mainly the ones where I’m getting to know you better or I’m learning lessons. But these prayers for specific change, or specific answers, they elude me!
Teach me, O Lord, how to pray for impact! I want to do good things in your name through prayer! I want to intercede on behalf of others and be heard! I want to ask for healing and see it done!
Am I just not persistent enough? Are the days I’ve spent fasting not good enough? I have read so many times in the gospels where you respond to the heart and not legalism. I know my efforts are far from perfect but surely my heart is right! Right?!?! What more do I have to do to get you to answer my requests?
I am not asking for selfish gain, I am not asking for foolish things either. I am asking for you to be glorified in the things you are doing in and through me.
So I am frustrated, Lord. But more than that I am fearful. Fearful that you do not want to listen to my requests for tangible things. Peace, comfort, joy…I receive those things in abundance. But what about specific direction? What about wisdom and discernment? I have received those things in the past but I feel you are silent right now despite my belief in you.
And yet…perhaps I’m just not listening. Perhaps I am avoiding the things I already know you’ve called me to do. Perhaps in my fear of the unknown I am filling my time and mind with the things I can control.
I am anxious, Lord! I have mastered anxiety in previous seasons, but right now I am struggling. “Be anxious about nothing”, you say, and then you say “present your requests” to you. I’ve definitely sent in my requests! Still waiting on the answers!
But yet the passage in scripture doesn’t promise answers, it promises peace. Then what about the “persistent widow”? She got answers. And back to Jesus telling us we can have a mountain throw itself into the sea: is there a magic formula we must pray to see these kind of results? Teach me—I’m willing to learn a different approach to prayer.
I’m pouting right now—I will fully admit. I’m sulking like a child who isn’t getting their way. For when I do manage to quiet my heart, put away my lists, and actually focus in your direction, I do have answers. Just not the ones I’m looking for.
Instead, I hear you reminding me of things you’ve already told me. I hear you gently tell me of the lessons I must learn right now so that I can handle the future situations you have for me. I hear you whisper “courage” in my ear when I am afraid of your silence. I hear you direct me to re-read all of the stories I’ve written in the past about patient faith.
But then something in my life right now will trigger the anxiety to show its ugly face. My stomach will seize up as I remember wrongs done to me. Or I will suddenly be afraid to use the provision you’ve given for today because I’m uncertain about provision for tomorrow. Or I will remember the list of prayers yet to be answered and the anxiety will turn into doubtful fear as I am terrified to do life without you.
I am tired of this cycle: anxiety…peace…anxiety…peace. Why am I having such a difficult time keeping the anxiety at bay? And again, I already know part of that question’s answer it’s just not the easy answer I’m looking for. So back to pouting I go!
Although…maybe not this time. Maybe, at least for this moment, I can be inspired to obedience by your glory. Maybe if I can take my eyes off of myself and fix them onto you, I will have the courage to accept the answers I have and the patience to wait for the ones I don’t. Maybe I can surrender my weaknesses to you can be shown strong.
Lord, I’m sorry for pouting. I’m sorry for doubting that you want good things for me. I’m sorry for questioning your words in scripture and trying to conform them to my desires of the moment.
Lord, I trust that you are good. I trust that your timing is perfect. Teach me to trust that you are refining me to be the tool I need to become to accomplish your will. Please help me to learn these lessons quickly and deeply so that I may begin to encourage others in these areas. Keep my hope and confidence firmly planted in you.
Lord, thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for being merciful as well. You are good and just. Your word is perfect and it lights my path. Please help me be disciplined enough to listen. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.