“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.” – Philippians 4: 6-7
In this time that each day brings with it a new set of concerns and anxieties. We wonder what the future will hold. We worry about our family and friends. We long for change in systems that oppress and we are not at all confident in any solutions. Scripture has much to say about worry and usually the advice is – just don’t do it. Worry is not worth the angst it produces. That does not help me in this time, does it speak to you?
I do appreciate the passage above from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and particularly this version from the translation “The Message”. Prayer can be an antidote to worry. When my worries grow fierce, I have often turned to prayer to quell my overanxious head and heart. These days it is my daily practice to reduce worry. Perhaps you could try it, too. Prayer will not resolve all of life’s problems, but it could soften the worry lines on our foreheads. Or re-focus our attention on other important matters. Because another thing I know about worry is that many of the things that we worry about never come to fruition and we waste a lot of head and heart energy in the process.
If you think prayer could be helpful but are struggling to find the words to pray, here is a lovely prayer by Mark Nepo to guide you on your way. Pray your worries, friends, and trust that others are praying with you.
Through the great pain of stretching
beyond all that pain has taught me,
the soft well at the base
has opened, and life
touching me there
has turned me into a flower
that prays for rain. Now
I understand: to blossom
is to pray, to wilt and shed
is to pray, to turn to mulch
is to pray, to stretch in the dark
is to pray, to break surface
after great months of ice
is to pray, and to squeeze love
up the stalky center toward the sky
with only dreams of color
is to pray, and finally to unfold
again as if never before
is to be the prayer. – Mark Nepo