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Pray More, Worry Less

Written By Lauren Tyler

“Pray More; Worry Less”. In our kitchen we have a spoon rest that sits to the right of our stovetop with this simple phrase printed on it. I see it when I cook,  wipe the counters, or whenever I am in the kitchen. Sometimes it’s the first thing I read in the morning. It was a gift from a friend that I didn’t like at first but has become one of my favorite items in our house. It reminds me throughout the day what I often forget: we have God’s listening ear at every moment.  We have God’s presence every moment, and his vast and unsearchable knowledge includes knowing about every moment of our lives. 

I am definitely prone to doing the opposite of the spoon rest. When something is troubling me, I almost automatically worry more and pray less! If you’re like me, you might  worry about upcoming dates, deadlines, people’s opinions, letting people down (again), and what might happen if loose ends are not tied up. You might worry about how your friends are doing, how your kids are doing, how your parents are doing, your siblings, or your spouse. You might worry a lot of the time; maybe even more than anything else you do.  

You might also worry about things that are gut-wrenching and impossible to solve. Those worries lurk and cling to the insides of our hearts: divorce, sudden tragedy, a child’s future, illnesses and diagnoses, a job we need but don’t have, a spouse’s death, someone else’s traumatic hardship, or underlying guilt or shame.

Probably the hardest thing for me about these kinds of thoughts and feelings is that they demand an answer. I feel the need to get to the bottom of them, quickly, or things will not be alright.  In this sense, at least for me, they are powerful. When I worry, my thoughts line up and follow their favorite leaders: it’s up to me and it will not be ok. My tone of voice, my actions, my interactions with others follow suit. And when a larger group of people is worried about something, it is a strong environment indeed. You can feel it. 

But an even more powerful, truer and better way of living is praying, as the spoon rest so humbly states. Here are some words from the Bible that I believe connect to this: 

 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life….Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?  Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying?”  Matthew 6:25-27  

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  Colossians 3:2

For he knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust.  Psalm 103:14 

…the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4–5 

When I read these verses, I am reminded that the truths we stand on are not our own ability to find solutions and solve problems, or threats that things may not be ok. The truth is that things will be more than ok; they will be blessedly, amazingly, and overwhelmingly GOOD. An almighty God reigns and knows about our concerns. We live in God’s universe, and because of Jesus, with God’s own presence. God’s own presence. We have something besides ourselves to count on. 

Even so, it sometimes just seems too hard to pray when I’m worried. I think this is in part because I try to clear my mind of burdens first before I start to pray, which is impossible for me! Another challenge when I am anxious, concerned, or worried is not feeling strong enough to “take every thought captive to obey Christ”.  I have so many thoughts, and so many are often out of line with who God is. So many are “raised up against the knowledge of God”!  I question the truth of his sovereignty and assert my own control and my own agenda over my life.

So, I’m practicing stopping for at least a moment to acknowledge God’s presence as my mind races or when it is fixated on something unsolvable. I let the worries come but think of them moving toward him instead of toward myself. I ask for clarity for what needs to be addressed and what doesn’t, even with the concerns that I feel are most pressing. Sometimes I write them down or talk out loud like I would to a friend. What is God’s agenda for these items? What is his vantage point? 

After driving away from a time of prayer with a family facing a heartbreaking situation, I was amazed that the feeling of our prayer time together was the same as when I pray for smaller things with my spouse, or my friends, or community group.  It was a feeling of rest that our worries had been given to the one who can actually carry them. Maybe, God really is worthy of our trust. Maybe you and I actually can believe that we are dust, but he is King.

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