Worrying My Prayers
By Beth Mabe Gianopulos
Monday, October 2, 2017
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.“ James 1:6-8 MSG
This summer, when I was chaperoning a youth trip, I knew in my heart that I was being nudged by the Holy Spirit to act. Two teenagers that I did not know were sitting, crying softly, after one of our services. I knew that I should go to them and pray with them.
However, doubt held me back. I thought, “What if I don’t know what to say? I don’t even know their names. Wouldn’t it be better if their youth leader prayed with them? What if they are offended or upset when I approach them?”
There were other times this summer that I felt nudged to go to a stranger and offer help. Whether I decided to act or not, the same worries crept into my mind.
In those moments, I prayed for God to guide me - to give me the words to say. However, as soon as the prayer left my lips, I began to doubt myself and God. I began to wonder, "What if this isn’t the Holy Spirit? What if I just think I should go say something? What if I make things worse for this person?”
I tend to follow the same pattern when I seek God's help in a desperate situation. I have cried out to God when my heart is breaking. I have prayed in desperation and in faith, begging God to transform a situation or to change me. Yet, even in the midst of my prayers, doubt and fear remain.
Even as I beg God to help me, I fear that God will not help me. As I beg God to give me the wisdom to know what to do, I wonder what I will do if God doesn't answer. Then, if my prayers are not answered quickly, I wonder if God ever heard my words at all.
When I pray filled with doubt and fear, I am "worrying my prayers." In James 1:6-8, we are assured that God loves to help us. We are instructed to ask for what we need “boldly, believingly, and without a second thought.”
We are then cautioned not to “worry [our] prayers” because people that do this “are like wind-whipped waves.”
Too often, my prayers are not requests or statements of faith but are instead long lists of my worries recited to God.
When I go to God "worrying my prayer", I do not feel peaceful after prayer. In those times, I end my prayers desperate and weary.
If you want to change the way you pray, read James 1:6-8 before you pray. As you pray, be conscious of your doubts and fears. When you find yourself questioning and doubting, remind yourself that God wants to hear your prayers, and God will help you.
You can go to God boldly and believingly.
Jesus, Thank You loving us and desiring to help us. Help us with our doubt and fear. Assure us that You will hear our prayers, and that we can come to You boldly and believingly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2017 by Beth Mabe Gianopulos. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Monday, 02 October 2017.