How often have we heard (or said), “I’ll pray; I’m sorry I can’t do more”? Here’s the thing, though, prayer is the single most important thing we can do to combat worry – in our own lives and the lives of others.
Prayer is foundational to the Christian life, yet many people don’t know its true purpose and often feel like they don’t know how to pray. It’s not like sharing your troubles with a friend over a cup of tea.
First, prayer is a privilege as well as a command: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12 ESV).
Second, prayer, in its very essence, is communicating with our loving, Heavenly Father. It’s fellowship with the God of the universe. He is waiting for us to approach Him: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). It’s meant to be a two-way conversation, so we need to make sure to listen to God’s response through meditating on Scripture.
Third, prayer is giving our troubles to our Creator and the perfect Lover of our Soul, so we don’t have to carry their weight: “Cast[ing] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7 ESV). The idea here of “casting” is throwing or placing upon, so we’re giving up the responsibility for our problems. Hallelujah!
Prayer is an exchange. We leave our burdens, worries, and sin in the hands of God. We come away with oil of joy and the garment of praise.F.B. Meyer
Jesus invites us to exchange our burdens for His: Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Sometimes it seems as if our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, and we wonder whether prayer really works. The resounding answer is yes! “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). The answer may not be what we want or when we want it, but God always hears and answers our prayers: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14 ESV).