Praying vs. Worrying

By:  Staci Stallings

The other day someone said to me, “I’m so worried about…”  I don’t even remember what they finished the sentence or who said it to me.  I just remember thinking later, “Huh.  I wonder when the last time I really worried about something was.”  That was kind of odd because I used to worry all the time.  If hubby wasn’t home on time, hit worry button.  If I had a class to teach coming up, better start worrying early.  If one of my kids was stressed, definite worry!

However, the closer I’ve become particularly to the Holy Spirit, the less I’ve relied on worrying to get me through a day.  It started when we became friends, and I began to lay everything in His hands and rejoice with Him when things “just worked.”  My blog partner, Dennis, recently laughed because he got an invite from a church to talk about his books.  The pastor said, “And they can ask questions like, how you come up with what you write….”  Dennis emailed me and said something to the effect of, “I’m not sure how I’m going to explain the whole Staci Stallings’ put your fingers on the keys and listen to what the Holy Spirit tells you to write method.”  I had to laugh.  He’s got a point.

But that’s in a lot of ways how I’ve begun to live life, not freaking out about every little (or very large, overwhelming detail), but simply giving it all to the Holy Spirit and letting Him tell me what to do when and how.

This morning I went up to my kids’ school to work on the raffle–4,000 tickets, 180+ families, every ticket has to be accounted for and coded so you know who sold what ticket, how many tickets each family sold, etc.  An overwhelming project to be sure.  I was at school for about 3 hours getting everything lined out so tickets can go home today, and we know who has which tickets, and that everyone has tickets, figuring out class lists, etc.  Strangely, I never freaked even once.  It was step-by-step-by-step.

The school secretary said I was a speed-demon.  What she doesn’t know is that I wasn’t the one doing it at all.  The Holy Spirit was, and let me tell you, He’s GOOD!

Interestingly, as I thought about this worrying thing, I realized that instead of worrying, I pray.  When it’s big enough to worry, it’s big enough to pray, and as you pray, the next step becomes clear.  I can’t explain that exactly.  I just know it works.  (And if it’s not big enough to pray about, it’s not big enough to worry about!)

In fact, St. Paul laid out the relationship very clearly.  “Worry about nothing.  Pray about everything, and in all things, give thanks.”

So if you have something that you’re worried about, pray about it.  If you’re still worried, pray again, and again, and even again.  Some big worries take days, weeks, or even months of prayer.  That’s okay.  It keeps you close to God when you have to keep talking to Him.  And no, He won’t get bored with you or annoyed with you.  He WANTS you to come to Him.  Think about it this way…

If you have a son, and in school his grades start slipping.  He’s worried about it but says nothing to you.  The grades keep slipping.  Now, he’s really worried, but he doesn’t want to worry you, so he keeps it to himself and begins not to sleep very well at night over it.  Now, he’s compounding the problem.  His grades keep dropping.  He begins to be belligerent and aloof to you, and you are struggling to figure out why.  Finally, the truth comes out, and though you are disappointed, what you are mostly is just wishing he had come and told you what was going on in the first place… and let you help!

Now, with God, He knows what’s going on in your life, but He will not step in and help unless and until you ask Him to.  That’s what prayer is and what prayer does.  For me, prayer has become more of a running conversation with God.  “This went really well, God!  Yea and thanks!”  “Oh, this is an issue, please help, Holy Spirit.”  That kind of thing.

I know for me, living like this has freed up so much time and brain space that I can actually LIVE rather than simply drown in worry.  In fact, I just got a call on something that’s been on the back burner for a year.  At the time I wanted to do it, but it didn’t work out right away.  Now I could have worried about it, fretted about it, forced it, pushed it, and made myself miserable.  Instead, I put it in God’s hands and continued on with life.  Much like the cloud by day and the fire by night that led the Israelites in the desert, I go when God says, “Go” and stop when He says, “Stop.”

Does go always make sense at the time?  No.  Does stop always make sense at the time?  No.  But I’ve found the more I go when God says go and stop when He says stop, looking back I see the exquisite timing of those moves, and it teaches me that He does know best.  The more I see that, the easier it is not to worry about anything and pray about everything, but most of all just to rejoice that my God loves me and knows what is the very best next step for me.

I highly recommend it!

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