Our lives are filled with temptation. Consuming too much sugar, alcohol, Internet and pills are classic examples of that which are difficult for some of us to avoid. More insidious temptations are choosing greed over generosity or blame over grace. For me, one of the hardest temptations to resist has something in common with the two things I am good at—being a pastor and being a mother—and that is the temptation to worry. I worry about my daughters driving back to their homes after a party or my husband driving home after an overnight shift at the hospital. I worry about my son moving off to KU in the fall. I worry about the souls who make their way into my office at Resurrection with crises so real and so immeasurable that words of hope get stuck in the back of my throat. Perhaps you can also relate to the temptation of worry.
For me, prayer has been the best antidote to worry. However, I never thought about worry itself as prayer. In The Path of Prayer, Sophy Burnham writes that, “worrying is like praying for our worst fears to happen. Put more succinctly, worry is a prayer for disaster. It scatters our attention, leads to moodiness or depression, saps our physical strength and depletes our emotional will.” With this new insight I am going to put even more emphasis in my prayer life on pushing back the darkness of worry. If worry is a temptation for you, I invite you to join me. At work during the day, I will distract my thoughts from worry by pausing to take a few deep breaths or by saying “Stop it” in my head. Before bed, I will continue to surrender my burdens to God. Recently I read that surrender means wisely accommodating ourselves to what is beyond our control. I’m so grateful that our awesome God is ultimately the one in control, and that I can confidently surrender myself and my loved ones into God’s capable hands. I am grateful that our God loves us so much that he is big enough to bear all of our worries, and all we have to do is let go and hand them over.
I’d like to close with an excerpt from The Centering Moment by Howard Thurman. “Sometimes it is very hard to tear ourselves away from the things that tax us and weigh heavily upon us, moment by moment, hour by hour, and day unto day: and yet there is a quiet joy in us because we are privileged to withdraw, to turn aside… As we do this, we turn , each in his own way, to something more than we are, to a spirit, to an atmosphere, to a silence, to a presence; with the hope that what has been anxiety for us may be tranquilized by this presence, what has been low may be lifted and purified, redeemed and established; what has been weakness will be redone by the presence, until at last weakness becomes strength; what has been despair may become hope, what has been sickness may become health.”
–Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer