A Prayer for When You’re Overwhelmed by Fear
When I was starting college, I set off for the big city of Portland, Oregon, some four-and-a-half hours from my small hometown. I got a cute little studio apartment in an old 1940s hotel, which was conveniently located two blocks from campus. Happily, I would walk to school every morning and enjoy my time in the sun, but as soon as the sun was locked up for the night, sadly, so was I. From my fourth-floor window, I could see the darkness bleeding into the streets and invading the souls of the damned who circled the sidewalk in front of my building. At least that’s how I imagined it. Even if I were completely out of food and starving to death, I would not leave the building after dark to trek the two blocks to the local grocer. It just didn’t make good safety sense. Remember, the safest risk is the one you don’t take.
Yeah, try walking a mile in my brain and see how you feel in the frightmare that is my life. My deep desire to explore the world and live the dream was overwhelmed by mere darkness—but boy, was it overwhelming.
Two years later, I moved to another apartment that was literally behind the grocery store. I could open up my door and run as quickly as my little legs would carry me, through the parking lot and into the safety of the Safeway.
Isn’t it ironic? It really was called Safeway.
The proximity of this store allowed me to take my first steps of emerging into the darkness. Like Dracula, when he first realized the moon didn’t burn like the sun, I was set free to live after six p.m.
My mind is easily drowned in fear, like a fly taking a swim in my lemonade, expecting the drink to be sweet but finding out it is deadly. Even so, I used to rely on my fear to protect me. “Do what it says, and everything will be OK.” In the vein of Dory from Finding Nemo, my chant was, “Just keep fearing. Just keep fearing.”
Fear, though, isn’t a loner. No, fear has a BFF she pals around with, and her name is Worry. In fact, some would say Worry is the one who gets Fear all riled up in the first place, and I can attest to that. Many times in my life, Worry has spoken, and Fear has reacted. I can say I have successfully worried about thieves, fires, natural disasters, rabid dogs, living alone, dying alone, getting cancer, and being kidnapped, raped, and beaten. I’ve worried about just about everything a girl can worry about and more. Let’s be honest, though; the only success I had at such an endeavor was giving myself an ulcer.
In my search for the cure, I read in a book that my worry was the result of my calling God a liar, and I didn’t like that idea. I set about finding out how to trust God rather than doubt Him. To do that, I had to know more about Him.
I assigned myself the task of reading His Word and finding out who this God was whom I should trust. As I read, it all started to make sense. If my mother loved me enough to try so hard to protect me, wouldn’t my God do a much better job? Wouldn’t He, too, want only what was best for me? This idea made a lot of sense, and throughout time it gave me a lot of freedom.
I still have to fight the urge to have my passport always ready and the car full of gas in case I need to make a quick getaway like my mom always taught me. (I know, weird, but safety is no laughing matter!) But I try to remember the true story I read about a mom who left her daughter in the care of Hannah Whitall Smith, who said that all the girl did the entire time the mom was gone was fret and worry about her abandoning her. “She was too afraid to play, too scared to rest,” said Hannah to the mother. Imagine how grieved the mother was to hear her child doubted her and suffered badly from it.
I don’t want to waste my playtime on worry. I want to enjoy where my Father has put me and trust He hasn’t abandoned me. I want to rest and not fret, to trust and not fear.
A Prayer to Overcome Fear
Lord, You are a good Father. Your love and care is endless. You care more about my wellbeing that even I do, no matter how much I worry over it. And you are all powerful – able to protect me completely and fully from anything that might arise. Lord, I confess I forget these truths. I confess I am prone to believe that I am alone and without any protection. Lord, I know that this is a lie I tell myself, and it only works me up into worry and fear. I repent of that worry and fear now… ultimately, I know it stems from not trusting in Your goodness toward me. Help me believe and live out of the truth that you are always close, always protecting me, always watching over every step of my life. Thank you Lord for your great love for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
A Short Prayer for When You're Afraid
God, you haven’t given me a spirit of fear. Come and replace my fear with your power and your love so I may have a sound mind to live each day glorifying you. Amen.
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This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.
Hayley DiMarco is the best-selling author of more than 40 books, including her latest release is A Woman Overwhelmed: Finding God in the Messes of Life (Abingdon Press) and its companion Bible study. As the founder of Hungry Planet, DiMarco speaks regularly for women’s groups and events. Hayley, her pastor husband, Michael, and their daughter live outside Nashville.