Fear and Anxiety
To fear is to be human. God actually gave us fear as a survival gift. It’s a warning sign to us that all is not right, and we need to take some action in order to have that feeling of safety return to us. We need to flee the bear, or douse the kitchen fire, or run to find the missing child. But many times we feel ashamed of our fear. Some Christians teach that fear is sin, and scold people who are fearful. It is important to understand that it is not the feeling of fear that is wrong, but sometimes how we deal with fear becomes sinful.
It has been said that some form of “Fear Not” appears in the Bible 365 times, because we need to hear it every day. When King David said “When I am afraid I will trust in You,” (Psalm 56:3) he presupposed there would be times of fear in his life. These times become opportunities to choose to meet that fear with trust, and to meet anxiety with God’s peace. It helps us to see episodes of fear as God’s invitations to trust. While the instinctual fears which arise when we are in imminent danger arise, we certainly should act first and ask questions later, but for longer term fears plague us, we need to look to Him to help us evaluate what action to take with those.
For example, if a loved one is very ill and we fear their death, or the job situation is uncertain and we fear financial ruin, or the marriage is rocky and we fear divorce…the scenarios are multitude. It is in these circumstances that the “whenever” of David’s verse come to us…”Whenever I am afraid…” At that moment we need to choose to think, “This is God’s invitation for me to trust in Him.”
This is where Scripture can really help us understand how to pray. We don’t just need to look at all 365 times “fear not” is said in the Bible, although some of them can be instructional. There are many Scriptures which speak to our fears, or those for whom we pray. This is especially true since our fears can be so broad in subject. Verses which remind us of how trustworthy and mighty God is are very helpful. Passages which reference the topics that cause us fear speak truth and perspective into our prayers, as well. Following are some examples of how to take scripture passages and frame them to meet our fears and bring us peace:
When we are enduring opposition which causes us to grow weary and tempts us to lose heart, help us to study Jesus, who He is, and how He endured all He suffered. Help us to be like Him and focus on the joy beyond the cross, keeping an eternal perspective. (Hebrews 12:2-3)
When it feels like it is us against the world, help us to have the perspective of David—that with the Lord as our light and our salvation, we have nothing to fear. With the Lord as the strength of our life, we do not need to be afraid, rather we can be confident. (Psalm 27:1-3)
May we feel You as the Shield around us, bestowing glory on us and lifting up our heads. Help us, then, to be able to lay down and sleep peacefully, knowing You sustain us—not fearing even if 10,000 are coming against us. (Psalm 3:3-6)
Give us confidence in Your goodness, the comfort that You are our refuge in times of trouble, and the assurance that You care for those who trust in You. (Nahum 1:7)
Teach us to allow Your peace to reign in us. Show us that this is a choice we make, depending on where we place our focus. Help us to keep our eyes on You and let Your word dwell in us with a richness that not only gives us peace, but brings that peace to others we encounter. (Colossians 3:15-16)
When our minds race and seem to be our very enemies, when it seems like everyone is staring and
judging, when our emotions are twisting us knots and fear sets us trembling, feeling overwhelmed to the point of despairing of life and we just want to escape, answer our prayer, O Lord! Hear our cry! Help us to remember to cast all our cares on You, believing You will sustain us, and that You will never let Your children fall. (Psalm 55:1-8, 22)
When we feel like we’ve been alienated and exiled, may we not be dismayed. Help us to trust You will come to save us. Grant us, again, the peace and security we once had. Fix in our hearts the truth that You have promised to be with us and to save us, even if what is happening is an act of Your discipline. (Jeremiah 30:10-11)
Sometimes it feels like we are tied up in knots we can’t escape, being overwhelmed by floods and dragged down to the depths of despair. Lord, we call to You at these times, crying for Your help. Thank You for hearing our voice, and coming to our rescue. When our problems are too big for us to handle, and we are powerless to overcome them, be our support. Grant us the amazing understanding that You rescue us because You actually delight in us. (Psalm 18:4-6, 16-19)
Thank You for the blessed truth that we are justified and have peace with You because of our faith in Jesus, who gave us access to the grace in which we stand. May this truth give us hope and strength to endure the suffering in our lives, and to go beyond merely enduring to living out the purposes of that suffering. In this way may our trials produce perseverance in us, and perseverance produce character so we have more hope. Deepen our hope in You so we are assured we will not be disappointed in the end because Your love is poured out into our hearts. (Romans 5:1-5)
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries