A few words on anxiety and prayer
This is a strange time for all of us, bringing many new situations to deal with. For this season, so much has gone. Shops, cafes, restaurants are closed, the trains are barely running, we can't go on holiday. Maybe the things that hit hardest for many of us is the closure of our churches and the strong advice not to visit our families. Where do we turn in hard times? To the places where our security lies; church, friends and family. What is happening is truly extraordinary, and of course behind all these daily losses of routine and structure lies the 'valley of the shadow of death', or at least the possibility of serious and unpleasant illness for us or our loved ones.
Prayer can be difficult at such times, as our minds become unruly and race away with these fears. There is a need to hang on to God tight in stormy times, but when we are anxious our thoughts and emotions are all over the place, tossed about, and it can become very hard.
There are many ways to pray, and here is one suggestion for times such as these from the American author Brian McLaren
'... when we’re suffering from anxiety, we can begin by simply holding the word help before God, letting that one word bring focus to the chaos of our racing thoughts'.
He suggests that we distil from our sea of thoughts, the essence of them. Trust that God knows what you need and what you want, lay aside the use of many words and come instead to one all-encompassing word, 'Help'.
Simply say to God, 'Help', slowly, definitely, firmly. Repeat it as you need or want and then as you feel your over-busy mind beginning to quieten, you might add another word that sums up what you are feeling or needing, 'strength', ''peace', 'healing, 'courage' or whatever it might be.
'....there is enormous power in simple, strong words—the words by which we name our pain and then translate it into a request to God. Help is the door into this vital practice of petition, through which we expand beyond our own capacities and resources to God’s...'
Whether you are out and about having your 'one walk a day' or confined at home for now, God is close and will hear you.
(Brian McLaren: Naked Spirituality, 2011)