Tag Archives: prayer

How to pray against anxiety and fear

This blog post by Russ Pond speaks much-needed truth:

When anxious and fearful thoughts come flooding in, it can be very difficult to quiet your mind and connect with God in prayer. In the middle of a panic attack, the last thing on your mind is getting alone with God. But, prayer can be very helpful in stopping those confusing and terrifying thoughts.

Learning how to pray can calm an anxious mind and fill your heart with peace:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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).

When anxious thoughts, fear, panic or worry come against you, present your requests to God. Pray and petition him, and as you do, his peace which goes beyond all understanding will guide your hearts and mind in Christ. This is more than just a recommendation—it’s a truth that can transform a fearful mind into a mind of peace.

Here are some steps that have helped me connect with God:

1.  Believe

Faith is essential. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). We must believe that God will respond to our prayers. If we doubt, we are like a wave tossed about by the sea, unsettled in all our ways (James 1:5). Here’s how Jesus explains it:

“Have faith in God. . . All that’s required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart. Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it” (Mark 11:22-24).

2. God hears you

We pray and pray and it seems like nothing changes. We beg for freedom, we cry out for a respite of peace, but it seems so elusive. We hear a thought in our head, God does not hear my prayers and we think it’s our thought. Quietly, we agree with this subtle attack of the devil. The enemy constantly accuses us and lies to us. He is the father of lies (John 10:10) and he spews his lies and confusion all over of us to thwart God’s beautiful plans for our lives.  We cannot give into this voice that says God does not hear our prayers. God listens.

Another subtle lie from the enemy is that we are not worthy enough for God to hear our prayers. It’s just not true! When you receive Christ, you are instantly made worthy. He took our sins and we took his righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says it this way, “God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Now that you are righteous in Christ, you can boldly come to the throne of grace in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

3. Know who you are in Christ

Too often, we approach God in prayer with a sinner mentality. “Lord, I’m a wretched sinner. Woe is me! I’m not worthy to come before you.” Once you receive Christ, you are no longer a slave—you are a child of God!

“You are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you” (Galatians 4:7).

In Christ, you are a child of the Most High God. You are special! You are cherished, loved, protected and pursued by God. You are his child!

4. Words carry power

We must be very careful about the words we speak. Words carry incredible spiritual power. Death and life are in the power of our words (Proverbs 18:21). Salvation comes when we confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts (Romans 10:9).  Jesus said it this way, “Whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart” (Matthew 12:34, 35).

If you want to experience peace, don’t speak evil, doubting words. If you feel an anxious thought coming on, don’t say, “I’m probably going to have another panic attack.” Rather, pray something like this, “Father, my body feels anxious right now, but you said that you will give me perfect peace when my mind is focused upon you. Right now, Lord, I fix my thoughts upon you. I trust in you!”

5.  Build your prayer muscle

Prayer is a lot like a muscle. You need to work on it, strengthen it and build it up. Don’t wait till you need it to start strengthening it. A professional athlete doesn’t start working out the day before a big race. It takes months and months, even years, to develop the ability to race well. In the same way, we should pray daily, flexing and strengthening our prayer-time muscle.

“Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Prayer: Father, this week, teach me to pray effectively. Show me how to build and strengthen my prayer muscle so that when anxiety, panic or fear hits, I can rest in the confidence that you are with me.

“How should I pray?”


Is it better to pray while kneeling or bowing or can I pray sitting or standing? Do I have to fold my hands and close my eyes or is it okay to pray with eyes wide open and hands lifted high . . . or in my pockets? Should I pray in the morning or before bed or all day long? Should I say ‘grace’ in public? (What a great opportunity to bless your guests and server!) Should I end every prayer with “in Jesus name”? Should I pray out loud, or quietly, by myself or in a group? Can I pray while doing the dishes or taking a shower?


Prayer isn’t saying “Open Sesame” to access God’s treasures. There’s no magic formula. God cares about the posture of our hearts, not our bodies. Prayer is a two-way conversation between you and God. The closer your relationship with God the more natural your prayers will be.


We don’t have to approach Him trembling like the Tin Man before the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz. God says we who know Jesus should approach Him in confidence, that He hears us and will grant requests made according to His will. When He says we should ask whatever we want in His name, He doesn’t mean to add, “in Jesus’ name’ as a formulaic ending to every prayer. He means to ask in accordance to what Jesus would ask.


How did Jesus pray? He always focused on His Heavenly Father’s will. We’re quick to pray away every discomfort or pain and suffering, thinking if Jabez prayed that way at least one time, it’s a formula we can claim. But that prosperity and comfort approach mocks the life of Jesus and His followers. Paul writes frequently about suffering as a means of drawing closer to Jesus, advancing the gospel, and increasing glory. Jesus prayed for the cup of suffering to pass IF it was God’s will but concluded, “… not my will, but Yours be done.”


If You are willing God if it pleases You, if it advances Your kingdom, if it will bring others closer to You, IF…


Jesus gave us a model of how to pray: Honor God. Worship Him. Really trust in His plan. Bring requests to Him. Be honest about what’s on your heart. Tell Him you’re angry at Him or you feel He’s ignoring you. He’s a big God; He can take it. But don’t stop there. Tell Him that you don’t want it to stay that way, that you want to be closer, that you want your love to grow. Pray about everything with thanks and without worry.


Confess your sins, your weaknesses, your double-mindedness, your wayward heart that seeks pleasure and comfort more than closeness with Him. Confess apathy toward the suffering of others, the infernal busyness that keeps you from hearing and responding to His call on your life. Submit to Him. The only posture that matters is a humble heart submitted to Him.


Jesus gave us His Spirit to interpret our prayers when we can’t even form the words. Ask His Holy Spirit to guide the prayers of your heart as you seek to draw closer to your Lord God.



What if salvation was all you had?


We ask God for so many things: safe travel, a happy day, a secure job, good health, more of nearly everything, and so much more. And it’s well we do come before Him with our petitions for He encourages us to depend on Him for all our needs. He wants us to ask for everything in the name of Jesus, according to His will, not ours. IF we desire Him more than anything else, He will give us the desires of our heart.


If you have ever been to a land where believers have no access to clean water, safe food, or barely sufficient shelter, you’d realize we live in a land of plenty. We say we walk by faith and yet we all depend so much on our own resources as much – perhaps more – than we sometimes depend on God. And I wondered:


If all we had was our salvation would that be enough?


What if the job goes south (perhaps literally) and leaves you behind? What if you lose your prized home? What if suddenly and unexpectedly your healthy life is turned upside down by cancer, Alzheimer’s, or some other chronic condition? What if you lost your family and fortune? Job experienced all this and he remained faithful to His God. Would we? Or would we be like His friends saying, “Curse God and die.”


It won’t always be prosperous times for us. The bible is clear that times are coming when it will be very hard to even survive. It’s likely that in a single day, money will lose all its value. Your lifetime savings will be worthless. Standing firm in the faith will come only at a very high cost, even your life. And then there are the bowl judgments that will pour over the earth with unimaginable destruction.


Maybe real believers will have been raptured to heaven by then. But maybe we’ll have to endure a much stronger testing of our faith than we’d like to think. It doesn’t have to be the end times to test our faith. All sorts of trials come into our lives with no invitation. And the question is:


What if salvation was all I had?
Will God be enough if I have nothing else?


What if your rights were curtailed and you couldn’t go to a public church that worshipped Jesus? What if your means of earning an income or even enjoying basic comforts were taken away by a wretched disease? What if inconsolable sorrow came upon you at the loss of a child? What if your friends abandoned you? Would dwelling in the presence of God be enough for your soul? Would His grace be sufficient and His strength manifest in your weakness? Could you praise Him in the storm? Could you find His goodness and beauty in the smallest places around and within you? Could you see His spark of goodness in others you meet, even those you don’t particularly like?


The tragic slaughter of Christian students in Kenya might make us wonder, “Would I take a bullet for Christ?” But the real question isn’t, “Am I willing to die for Christ?” Perhaps the most important and relevant question is, “Am I willing to LIVE for Christ?” If salvation was all I had (and that is so very much!) would that be enough for me? And if so, should I not be completely satisfied in God today since he has blessed me with so much more?!



I should love…WHO?!


We love those who’ve been kind, who’ve stuck with us through tough times, and forgiven our past wrongs. We love those who agree with us, who support a common cause, those we admire.


Jesus says that if we truly love Him we will do what He says. We will love our neighbors as ourselves. We will ‘feed His sheep.’ Okay, got that, right? Wait a minute. He’s saying something else. Let’s listen:


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45


What?!! Loving my enemies and praying for those who persecute me is a condition of being a child of God? You gotta be kidding, right? Pray for ISIS followers who are killing Christians? We’d rather plea with God to destroy our enemies! And let’s not get started about praying for someone with a different political preference. We don’t even want to pray for people in our path who are just a bit disagreeable or unlovable.


But Jesus who turned the tables of the temple ‘thieves’ seeks to turn the tables of our own selfish ambitions too. He wants to deepen our love for Him – and for others. Loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us is one of the deepest expressions of love. The bible says we were enemies with God and yet He so loved us that He gave His Son Jesus so we could be saved. How can we say we love Jesus, and not do as he says…love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us?


But HOW should we pray for our enemies?


Pray for their salvation, for saving faith so they will receive Christ and trust only in Him. (Romans 10:9, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 1:12, John 14:6, Acts 4:12) Pray they will embrace true wisdom revealed by Almighty God. (Ephesians 1:17) Impossible? Consider one of the world’s most ardent persecutors of Christians, the man we know as the apostle Paul whose life was completely transformed by the power of God. Consider Daniel Shayestah, who was a faithful member of Iran’s ruthless Red Guard, but responded immediately to follow Jesus after being warned in a dream. God is still in the transformation business.


Pray for evil to be restrained. Pray that the God-offending ways of our enemies will be thwarted and frustrated at every turn in their path. Pray for the protection of believers and testimonies that boldly confront the lies of their persecutors and actually advance the gospel. (Philippians 1:12)


Pray for God’s will to be done. We know what vengeance we would unleash on our enemies, but God warns: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) Military action may be needed to curtail the wrath of destruction of our enemies. But our role is to pray for God’s divine will be done – to save or destroy, according to His purpose.


We who were once enemies with God need to obey Jesus and pray for those who still remain His enemies. Pray for their salvation, for protection from evil, and for God’s will be done. If they are converted, that’s God’s choice. If they refuse to repent of evil ways, they will receive their just punishment. As for you and me, let’s pray.


Who have you written off as hopeless and beyond salvation? Who is it, that the very thought of them creates a bitterness in your soul? Who have you marginalized through your apathy to their views and existence? These are the enemies Jesus called us to love. If you’re thinking this is beyond your ability, you are absolutely right. So let Jesus-in-you do the loving, on His terms, not yours. And watch how your world changes as your spirit cooperates with His.


Whose will?


“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42


On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus modeled for us how we should pray. In fact, He lived that prayer, always appealing to His Father’s will. “The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)


But is that how we pray? Don’t we typically pray for OUR will to be done? Fix my problems. Heal my sickness. And quickly please. Too often, if we’re honest, we treat God like a fast food worker at a heavenly Burger King:


God:”How can I help you today?”
Me: “I’d like a deluxe meal with double portions of happiness, power, and prosperity. Heal me and make me happy. No suffering or pain or sorrow. And plenty of comfort and recognition on the side. And I’d like to king size everything. Oh wait, not like the King Jesus had it. I want only what tastes good, not what’s actually good for me. I know He prayed “Thy will be done” but honestly, I’d really like MY will be done, if it’s all the same. And can I get a ticket to heaven with that? It’s a free gift today, right?”


We want what we want, when we want it. And true, God wants us to pray for our needs. If we truly love Him, He will give us our desires, because the desires of the follower of Christ are the desires of Christ…to do what the Father is doing, to honor God.


“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ CS Lewis, The Great Divorce


Humble yourself. Confess your sins. Draw close to God and ask Him for your needs. The prayers of a righteous man (and woman and child) are effective and accomplish much. (James 5) But let’s be the people who ask chiefly for God’s will to be done…in our work and our play, our banking, our striving and resting. Let our greatest prayers be for His name to be honored…in the world, in our country (regardless of your political leaning), in our town, our church, and our home. Let’s ask Him to reveal more of Himself to us and through us; to speak through our sorrow and our joy and to use our lives for the sole purpose of making Him known. . .

According to His will.



Be best blessed



If you could choose between receiving a gift that lasts just for a short time or one that lasts forever, which would you choose?


It probably sounds like a silly question. Of course, we value good things that last. But do our prayers match this? Indeed, we are encouraged to pray for our daily bread, but there are even greater blessings in store for those who seek them. What are these greater blessings? Paul speaks to them in his letter to the Ephesians (and to us, by the way):


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3


What are these spiritual blessings offered to us? Paul outlines them in verses 4-8:


  • Benefits of knowing God
  • Our salvation
  • Adoption into His family
  • Forgiveness!
  • Wisdom, discernment, insight
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit 
  • Power to live in accordance with God’s will
  • Hope of living forever with Jesus

That’s quite a list of blessings to begin your daily declaration of praise!


Matthew Henry writes: “Spiritual and heavenly blessings are the best blessings; with which we cannot be miserable, and without which we cannot but be so.” In other words, our true happiness, peace, and fulfillment in life come not from the physical realm that we so easily see and measure and enjoy but from the spiritual realm that we come to experience through faith. These spiritual blessings are available to us right now through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and will also last forever in the heavenly realms where Christ dwells and where we already are seated with Him (Ephesians 2:1-10).


Do you really desire the very best that God intends for you? Really? Then let your prayers be not only for your daily bread, but more especially for His indwelling presence. Ask to see God more clearly and to see others through his eyes. Seek to know God not just about Him. Pursue discerning wisdom, strength, and courage. Ask not just for increased ability; answer God’s call for your availability to be His purposeful and intentional light wherever you go today.


Be best blessed.
Discover and enjoy God’s best blessings for you today.



A New Year’s note from your friend – A.B. Simpson


In the name of the Lord, we wish for all to whom these words may come a happy New Year. In order that it may be so, let it be:


A year with Jesus. Let us seek its plan and direction from Him. Let us look to Him for our desire, ideals, expectations in it. Then shall it bring to us exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think. Let Him also be the sufficiency and strength of all the year. Let us not merely try to obey Christ or imitate Christ. Let us have Christ Himself in us to do the works, and let us every moment fall back on Him both to will and do in us of His good pleasure. And let our service be not our works, but the grace of Christ with us.


A year of self-forgetting ministry for Christ and others. Let us not drag our burdens through the year, but drop all our loads of care and be free to carry His yoke and His burden. Let us make the happy exchange, giving ours and taking His. So shall we lose our heaviest load—ourselves—and so shall we find our highest joy, divine love, the more blessed “to give” rather “than to receive.” Let us do good to all men as we have opportunity, let us lose no opportunity of blessing. Especially let us seek to win souls, and may 1886 [2015] be the harvest year of our lives.


A year of prayer. Let us learn the meaning of the ministry of prayer. Let us reach persons this year we cannot reach in person; let us expect results that we have never dared to claim before; let us count every difficulty only a greater occasion for prayer, and let us call on God for great and mighty things which we know not, and may the most glorious reminiscences of next New Year’s Eve be the wonders of answered prayer.


A year of joy and praise. Let us live in the promises of God and the outlook of His deliverance and blessing. Let us never dwell on the trial, but always on the victory just before. Let us not dwell in the tomb, but in the garden of Joseph and the light of the resurrection. Let us keep our faces toward the sun rising. In everything give thanks. Praise ye the Lord.


A year to forget the things that are behind and reach out unto those that are before. God has “a new thing” for us in 1886 [2015]. Let it be a year of deeper, wider, higher, diviner things. Let us hold fast that which we have attained, but go out also to “the regions beyond,” and arise and possess the length and breadth of the land which the Lord our God does give to us.

Yours in Him,

A.B. Simpson

(Excerpts reprinted from a personal letter to friends and acquaintances, January 1886—equally relevant for 2015.)



Turning the Tide of History Through Prayer





If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven. 2 Chronicles 7:14



Billy Graham was interviewed years ago and asked, “Looking back on your life of accomplishments, what would you have done differently?” Graham answered, “I should have prayed more.”


In this season of mid-term elections we need to be focused in prayer. After all, Jesus commends us to pray for our leaders and even our enemies. Our nation was founded by men who believed in the power of prayer. After the billions of dollars spent on political ads persuading us to vote for someone or against some else, it comes down to our vote and our prayer, which is really the most powerful tool available to us.


Now I know there will be many who will be praying that one party or another wins. I have my own opinions on who I want to see in office and likely you have yours. But what if instead of praying our list of candidates, we do something quite radical. What if we personalize 2 Chronicles 7:14 as our prayer to God:


God make us people who behave as we are called by your name. Humble us as we pray that we may seek your face and turn from our wicked ways. Give us leaders who are called by your name, who humble themselves before you, who turn from wicked ways. And if we must serve leaders who are ungodly, surround them with godly counsel that their hearts might be changed, and that ours stay faithful to you. 


I hope you will exercise your right (and responsibility) to vote. Your vote matters! But first, ask God’s insight. To echo a quote by Mother Teresa, instead of asking God for this or that, let’s put ourselves “in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”  As we prepare to go to the voting polls, consider these thoughts spoken by the Rev. Billy Graham in his 1962 (yet still current) message, “Turning the Tide of History:”


“Today the world is being carried on a rushing torrent of history that is sweeping out of control,” said Rev. Graham.  “There is but one power available to redeem the course of events, and that is the power of prayer by God-fearing, Christ-believing people. Elisha prayed and a young man was raised from the dead; Jesus prayed and Lazarus rose from the dead; the thief on the cross next to Jesus prayed and Jesus told him he would go to paradise that day; John Wesley prayed and religious fervor grew in England, and the same happened with Johnathan Edwards in Northampton.  I tell you, history could be altered and changed again if people went to their knees in believing prayer.”


Pray. Pray. Pray. Then vote. Then continue to pray.



Safe in the hands of God



What comes to mind when you think about prayer? Often we think about prayer requests, those lists of petitions to bring before God. God invites us to come to Him with our requests, but prayer is more than that.


Mother Teresa once said, “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”  Prayer is seeking the presence of God, being available to His agenda, and listening to Him with our heart. Her quote reminds me of the passage in John 22:27-30. Jesus is talking about the difference between true followers and those who don’t know Him.


“My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life,and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father,who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one. 


Sometimes we think we can’t hear God’s voice or that He doesn’t listen to ours. But He says we (His sheep) will hear His voice because they remain in His safe protection and they follow Him.  And He hears us. Jesus gave us His own Spirit to interpret our prayers perfectly and present them before the Heavenly Father.


We come into God’s presence by placing ourselves in His hands, by being available to Him, and by listening for His voice. We also come into His presence by giving thanks. Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me.” – John 11:42


A.W. Tozer wrote:  “Sometimes I go to God and say, “God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth, I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what Thou hast done already.” God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.”


The next time you go to prayer, spend time seeking His presence. Experience the peace and joy of letting Him hold you in His hands. Whisper to Him your praise and your thanks. Listen to His voice speaking peace, love and wisdom to you. Go ahead and present your requests to Him, with thanksgiving. But don’t miss the transcending experience of just resting safe in the hands of God.


Patience – Perseverance – Prayer



We all want to be patient, but we want it right now! Folks have probably warned you, “Don’t pray for patience because God will give you trials to bring it about!” Trials can be an effective way to bring us to consider patience, but how many times in your life do they bring grumbling and resentment instead?


The truth is, our life was not designed to be one of self-indulgence and comfort. This short span on earth, relative to all eternity, is full of trials. Read through the New Testament and find that every book  deals with some aspect of trials, suffering, or other woes! Beyond just a learning experience, it is part of our call to follow Jesus:  “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21


But that doesn’t leave us to despair, but to hope, because when we are squeezed by all sorts of trials, it brings the opportunity for God’s power to be revealed in us. That is James’ encouragement to us in chapter five. We’re called to be patient. Not just to wait until we get what we want, but to be patient for the Lord’s coming, when our trials and sorrows end.


We’re called to patient with each other. It is how we express our love to God Himself. Jesus said our purpose in life is to love God and love others, that others will know we are His disciples if we love one another.  And so James confirms this: “Don’t grumble against one another.”


Patience and perseverance are twin sisters. We can persevere because we practice patience. Likewise persevering helps us to be patient – with ourselves and with others.  Perseverance keeps on loving, keeps on hoping, keeps on waiting with expectation. Hope is for the future but faith is revealed in the moment. Perseverance reflects our real faith.


Where do we get such a persevering, patient faith?  We pray. If your prayer seems like a waste of time or a mundane routine to be endured, don’t believe it. The prayer of one fully committed to God, is effective. Ask for wisdom, strength, and courage to draw closer to Him so you can persevere. He will show you the way, one trial at a time, one moment at a time.  It’s a daily cycle: pursue patience, perseverance, and effective prayer.


“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:7-11 (excerpts)