We might not think prayer is effective as some pill against worry, but it is. Prayer outclasses any other remedy because it eliminates anxiety. Firstly, it is in prayer where we affirm God's truths. There in the presence of God, He reveals His mighty person and will to us. This second step follows the first. We stand there humbled and in great need crying out to God.
Most people have heard of Jonah. He resisted prayer. Those on the ship in the stormy sea were doing more praying than stubborn Jonah! He is a picture of the worried Christian totally lacking the joy, love and peace of the Lord in the world. He refuses to cry out for help. He doesn't want to turn to God. In Jonah's case, he had a mistaken notion about God. He thought he could get away from obeying the Lord. The Lord had him dive right into the belly of a great fish to humble him.
If you were Jonah, when would you have called out to God in prayer? Before you spent your money on that ship going away from doing what God wanted? Or would you have started praying once the ship started rocking? Some perhaps would wait till they were sinking down in that cold sea to your final end. Not Jonah. Do you realize that it took him three stinky and tortuous nights and days in the belly of some fish before he actually cried out to God?! Some of us can be stubborn. Why? We just don't want to change. Our chief delight is not in God but in expressing our own will.
Before every sincere confession, there is the revealing of God's person and truth. Isaiah saw his unclean tongue before a holy God in Isaiah 6. The Apostle Paul's transformation was absolute and sure once he met God. Our lives are no different. I have seen God's Word touch some of the most hardened people. They just melted before Him. Just minutes before, one would not have given them the slightest hope that they would turn to the Lord.
The second step in the threefold process is to ask help for our needs.
Revealing of God and His truths
When we gain a new insight into the situation, we are humbled how far we have actually departed from His truths.
True understanding of:
- God's person
- God's works
- God's ways
Agree with God about his standards and how you have fallen. Honestly tell Him how you have doubted His care for you.
The problem with a lot of prayers is that they are superficial. It is only after affirming God's glorious truths that we are able to meet God and discern our real needs. A revealing of God's holy person and ways leads His people to humble but powerful prayers. We find specific Biblical advice telling us to handle our anxieties by praying and coming to Him. Here are two of them.
We heard Jonah finally cry out after three days and was amazingly delivered from his horrible situation. He was worried that God was going to keep him in that fish alive until he repented!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)
Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7-8)
And he said, "I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; Thou didst hear my voice." Jonah 2:2.
When a person is sincere, he knows how desperately he needs the Lord. Many prayers are in vain because the hearer does not believe he has any real need. This is why we must not tolerate anxiety; it is a sin causing us to backslide. Or if he is convinced of his need, he lacks the confidence (faith) that God can do anything about it.
This change of heart must precede deliverance so that repentance and confession can first take place.
We must pray specifically about being released from every form of anxiety. If we don't pray, we will not find help. (1) In the majority of the cases the roots of this sinful disease go beyond our present concerns down to some deeper heart concern. God will help lead us there step by step. The humbling of our hearts and desire leads directly to His great change in our lives.