The young person who came up for prayer after church some years ago was seeking prayer for anxiety they were facing as they had a lot of life decisions to make – including which state they would live in and which college they would attend.
Decisions like this are understandably stressful. There are so many variables and expenses that it can be difficult to know what decision to make. Every one of us has been here in the past and will be here again in the future.
But what concerned me about my conversation with this young person was a pattern that emerged as we talked. No matter what possible decision we began discussing they would say “what if” and they would sprint into a nearly apocalyptic scenario where everything failed and their life was ruined. Since the conversation was going nowhere, at one point I stopped and asked, “do you ever look at the next season of your life and ask what if God has a great path for you and will be present with you and provide for you?” They paused, thought about it, and admitted they never really looked at the future with faith, only with fear. You’ve done this, right? You may be doing it right now.
To be sure, life has risks but God’s people are to live by faith and not fear. Proverbs 12:25 [ESV] says, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down…” If you’ve ever tried swimming while carrying dumbells, then you know what anxiety does to life. Perhaps anxiety is most pronounced at night, robbing us of sleep, Proverbs 3:24 [NLT] says that by faith, “You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep sound. Here are three facts about fear:
- Fear of tomorrow robs you of both today and tomorrow
- Fear turns us into false prophets where we predict a doom that never comes
- Fear is sometimes most gripping for trauma victims and high control people
Perhaps the most common fear of all, is fear of man. Proverbs 29:25 [NLT] says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety”. Those are the options, fear in the future or faith in the God who rules over the future. When someone becomes too big in our lives, God gets too small. When someone’s opinion matters too much, it is hard to hear the voice of God. And, when your decisions are based upon trying to control their actions rather than simply doing what is right in the sight of God, you know that fear has settled in and has started pushing faith out.
Is there anyone or anything you have more fear regarding than faith in God for that person or situation? How can you meet with God and be honest about this in conversational prayer?