Often the prayers of one struggling with fear and anxiety is “Please God, make it stop!”
When in the grip of an anxiety attack that is a logical prayer! However, the greater question is, is it biblical? I understand the risk of asking such a question, as it may upset and alienate some of you. When we are miserable and hurting it is natural to desire relief.
I called on Your name, O LORD, out of the lowest pit. You have heard my voice, “Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief, From my cry for help.” Lamentations 3:55-56
Where should our thoughts go in times of fear? What should our focus be on when we are worried? When anxiety multiplies how can we bring glory to God?
This Psalm gives us a wonderful clue:
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Psalm 94:19
In his commentary, Albert Barns says in reference to this verse, “The Hebrew word, properly means “thoughts;” and the idea seems to be that in the great number of thoughts which passed through his mind, so many of them perplexing, anxious, burdensome—so many of them vain and profitless—so many of them that seemed to come and go without any aim or object, there was one class that gave him comfort. They were those which pertained to God. In those thoughts he found calmness and peace. However much he might be disturbed by other thoughts, yet here he found rest and peace. In God—in his character, in his law, in his government—he had an unfailing source of consolation; and whatever trouble he might have from the cares of life, and from the evil imaginings in his own mind, yet here his soul found repose.”
It is so easy yet so hard! Praying with thanksgiving to God for His glory and His majesty, His love, His forgiveness! Thinking of the blessings that have been given to us in Christ, how we can fellowship with God the Father through His Son, how can our focus be on the temporary and fleeting things of earth?
As we “fix our thoughts on Jesus” (Heb. 3:1) we are reminded that Jesus also suffered anxiety the night before His death as He prayed in the garden. His anxiety was not for the pain of the crucifixion that was to come, but He saw with clarity that His Father would turn away from Him for the first time in all of eternity as He atoned for the sins of mankind.
To whom did Jesus go? To His Father! Jesus’ anxiety level was so great He sweat great drops of blood! And Yet, He went to His Father in the midst of the trial and His consistent prayer was “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42)
Could it be that there is gold for us to mine out in Jesus’ response to anxiety and trouble? Even in the deepest hour of His life, as the fear and anxiety washed over Him in waves the response of our Lord was, not as I will, but as You will Father.
It is for good reason that the writer of Hebrews tell us:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
He is our example, He is our copybook. Follow the lead of your Lord. Next time you are tempted to succumb to “rescue me” prayers, ask our Lord to give you the courage and desire to desire God’s Will in the situation rather than your own.
Then begin to pray about God, Christ, heaven, hope, faith, and love. Pray about anything other than being rid of the anxiety that desires to possess you in that moment. As you do this, you will find comfort and delight in things that pertain to God; to a higher life; and ultimately, to heaven!