Somehow, my blog has been overtaken by life in the last few months. I’ve had time for writing, and I’ve had mental energy for writing, but apart from my paid writing job the two have never coincided! But yesterday I had some thoughts, which had a real practical effect, which I thought worth recording.
Generally I’m a fairly laid-back person. I have learned in life not to sweat the small stuff, but there has been quite a lot of big stuff along the way, and I haven’t always handled that with the same sang-froid. Much of the last few months has involved things that come into the “big stuff” category.
Yesterday I was praying about some things that are definitely big stuff, and I was aware that there was an underlying anxiety in the tone of my prayers. I prayed because I was worried. When you have worries, praying is a good thing to do, but that’s not the same as praying from a position of anxiety.
When I realised this, my thoughts turned to Jesus’ prayer life. He had a lot of things in His life that constituted big stuff. People with disabling and life-threatening conditions; far too many of them for one man to reach them all. How to discern which ones God was directing Him to? Religious leaders out to trick Him, trip Him up in His words and discredit Him; ultimately, out to kill Him. The spiritual development of twelve men resting on His shoulders. The hostility He faced from His own brothers, and His awareness of the pain this must have caused His mother. So many reasons to pray worried prayers, born out of anxiety.
And yet He didn’t. He prayed from a place of peace. It would be too simplistic to say this came from having faith in His Father’s ability to take care of these situations, even though that is true. But if that’s all it was, what happens when my faith isn’t enough to lead me to that place of peace, when the mountains seem so huge that it’s hard to hold on to the truth that God is in control? I think that the main source of His peace came from His relationship with His Father. He was secure in the love they had for each other, and living in closeness to His Father’s heart filled Him with an effortless peace.
As I realised that, I found myself almost involuntarily drawing closer to God, and the anxiety underlying my prayers was replaced by peace. The change was not of my doing, and it was very profound. It was just as well, too, because I had a car accident on the way home from work, and as I sat alone by the roadside waiting for the breakdown vehicle to arrive, that sense of peace surrounded and enveloped me. From now on I’m going to try to be aware when my prayers are underpinned by anxiety, and to move instead into that place of closeness to God.