How to pray when peace eludes you

In the middle of the night, I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept me awake as I ran over one problem after another. Eventually, I decided to pray. If I turned my despair into prayer, sleep would be sure to come.

However, an hour later I was still awake and still restless.

Prayer should be the solution. If we talk to God about what’s making us anxious, the Bible says we will feel at peace, even if it doesn’t make sense considering the situation we’re in. But, how often has peace eluded you?

My first reaction was to get out of bed. If I wasn’t able to sleep, I may as well get up, be productive, and try and work out my problems on my laptop. However, I knew this plan would backfire later in the day. Not getting enough sleep would mean I’d be tired, grumpy and unable to function fully all day. Eventually, lack of sleep can lead to other significant mental and physical health problems.

Then I realized something significant about the way I had been praying.

Although I was talking to God about my issues—well, more like having a monologue—I wasn’t handing them over to him.

I held on tight to my troubles. After all, they were my problems to solve.

I was like the monkey in the parable who slips his hand in the jar. He holds on so tight to what’s inside he cannot get his fist out. He’s stuck. If only he would let go, then he would be free.

This is what the Bible tells us to do when we’re holding onto our problems: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

I should have been throwing my problems on God, wanting to get rid of them. This may seem irreverent, but that’s exactly what God wants us to do.

Prayer is a means to letting go. Pray puts distance between our problems and ourselves. Prayer helps us sleep through the night and lead a healthy life.

So, we fling our difficulties onto our heavenly Father who is willing to be loaded up with our burdens. He doesn’t need to sleep, but we do.

How do we put this into practice?

Use your imagination when you pray.

Imagine putting your anxieties in a sack. Bring your sack with you when you pray. When it’s too heavy to carry, drag it into the presence of your heavenly Father. Before his throne, open the sack, and tell him about each of your problems.

Then, when you’ve finished, be sure you leave each issue at the foot of God’s throne. Chain them there if you have to.

Make sure you go out of God’s throne room without them. Carry only the empty sack with you.

You see, it’s not until we release our anxiety to God that we can receive his peace.

Leave your problems with God.

Sometimes, we need to lose control. We need to be dependent on him. We need to allow him to care for us.

I did this in the middle of the night. Guess what? Next I knew, it was 7:00 am and the sun woke me up, filtering through the shades.

Other resources to help you:

Use Prayer Workout 4 in the Prayer Zone Workout book to help you. Here is a condensed version. Scroll down to Talking about Everything – Bringing your Anxieties.

Or use the Prayer Zone Workout App and the exercise Bringing your Anxieties under Workout Exercises –Talking.

Another way to look at it:

Pray like a fast-flowing river. Read more.

When we take our problems to God and lay them at his feet, he can turn the debris of our lives into rich fertile ground.

 

If we talk to God about what’s making us anxious, the Bible says we will feel at peace, even if it doesn’t make sense considering the situation we’re in.


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