Seeds of Devotion
By Julia Attaway

A Simple Prayer That Helps Calm Anxiety

We are waiting to hear if my 10-year-old has been invited to sit for the entrance exam to a good middle school. We’re waiting to find out if my 13-year-old will get a scholarship to the high school of her choice. And we’re anxiously waiting to learn when my 15-year-old’s health insurance—which was mysteriously cancelled—will be reinstated.

Having so much up in the air is frustrating. This morning I took note of my agitation and gave myself a pop quiz: In this situation, is God asking me to ...

a) Become cross and irritable

b) Pester him until my desire to know is satiated

c) Accept that not knowing is the cross I’m being asked to bear at the moment

Hmmm. I shot a bemused Got it! look in the general direction of heaven and decided to put my nervous energy to better use. As I began to clean up the living room I realized there was a four-word prayer I needed to say to clean up each of my “waiting worries.” So I began that as well. Thy will be done for Maggie’s middle school, Lord. Thy will be done for Mary’s scholarship. Thy will be done for John’s health and health insurance. Thy will be done in all things, on earth as it is in heaven.

Sometimes Thy will be done is the most powerful prayer we can say. Those four words pry us away from our worries and fears, and put the focus where it needs to be: on aligning our hearts with God’s plan. Even (or especially) if we don’t know exactly what that plan might be.

Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.

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Your Comments (22)

I know I'm late here, but this was so on time for me. I've been dealing with heavy anxiety, panic & emotions so bad that I could barely drive my car. During the panics (now that I have them somewhat under control), I constantly focus on the God's comfort & Jesus' promise of always being with me. I pretend God is in the front seat & Jesus is in the back seat. Lol! I know it sounds funny, but it brings comfort & makes me laugh. I can't have anxiety & laugh @ the same time. Blessings & thanks for this helpful article. :-)

Don't forget the Holy Spirit. There'd be room in the back for him too! :)

I'm just learning to pray and to trust in God. It truly is difficult learning that God has everything for us that we could possibly want if we only believe and trust completely. When I'm having a hard time I rely on the old stand-by the 23rd Psalm. The 91st Psalm is really reassuring too. It also helps me to have a friend to say prayers with me. It makes me feel that even if something is going to be difficult to experience, it will be easier if I trust in God's help.
Thank you to everyone who contributes to these little blogs. They are so sweet and reassuring. It really helps me to know there are so many nice people in the world.

Years ago I wrote a poem that I feel says much of how we all feel at times about such things as you wrote about:

I feel lost and low.
Which way to go?
Do I wait for His guidance
Or choose my own way?
Is there a certain
Path I must take?
Does He want me to choose?
I may make a mistake!

Oh dear Lord be my light
And my beacon ahead.
Smooth all the rough ways
And paths that I dread.
Take me, dear Lord,
By my hand, lead the way.
So I'll feel secure
In Thy love, I pray.

Amen

Thank you Carrie.
I believe God led me to your poem. Its words are
Comforting and powerful!

That was beautiful, Carrie. I'm going to print it out & keep it where I can see it, always :-)

Thy Will Be Done is an excellent anti-anxiety prayer. For me however, when I'm anxious, and that happens plenty of times, this is what I say "Jesus, Help Me". I repeat it and while doing so, I breathe in and out....cleansing breaths. I continue to do this 'exercise' till my mind settles down. Its my mantra. It works for me everytime.

I've also got this book entitled, "Jesus Calling". I cannot stress enough how soothing and appropriate each message is. There's a message for every single day of the year. Often when I feel discouraged, I don't have the emotional energy to read the Lord's message for me on a particular day. But when I force myself to look at what Jesus wants to say to me on any given day, I'm glad to recieve His message.

I SAY THE SAME THING while I'm driving w/anxiety. "Jesus, please help me", or "I know you have me, God." Both of which give me peace immediately. Deep breathing is a must. I've read excerpts from "Jesus Calling" and boy, do I want that book! LOL! I fell so in love with it just from the tiny bit I read. It's on my wish list. :-) Thanks for your message.

SOMETIMES IT IS THE MOST SIMPLE ANSWER TO AN ISSUE OR PROBLEM.
IT IS THE ANSWER IN ALMOST EVERY SITUATION. IT HELPS TO LET GO OF PROBLEM AND WAIT FOR GOD TO SHOW US THE ANSWER INSTEAD OF TRYING TO FIX THINGS OURSELVES.

Oh my heart breaks for you. I ask God in His mighty name to calm your spirit.

A dear friend gave me a plaque that says:

I don't know what tomorrow holds
But I KNOW who holds tomorrow!

And it is so true. I have had a tragic 2011 with two young and unexpected deaths. Even thru that He loved me and met my ever need.

I am very, very scared inside and do not know how to resolve all I need to in my life. Please pray for me. I am very anxious and feel overwhelmed with emotion.

My faith is quivering and very unsettled.

Looking for answers to feel good again.

ME

I have felt that way many times, too. Turning to the Scriptures has always helped. Praying also helps. It doesn't take away the problem, but I know that "help is on its way" and that the Lord, in time, will help me to resolve the problem.

Hold on to whatever particle of faith you still have. Trust that your Heavenly Father is mindful of you, knows what you're going through, has a plan for you, and WILL help you! Eventually tnings WILL get better. I promise you! If you remain faithful and stay close to the Lord, even though you will go through firey trials, you will come out a stronger person for what you're going through.

Words from a hymn, "How Firm a Foundation":
"Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed.
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

"That soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"

Talk to your Heavnely Father. He is mindful of you, loves you, and wants to help you. Turn to your Savior. He has suffered all that we suffer and more, and knows how you feel and how to help you.

I WILL pray for you! It'll get better, "ME". It will!

Love,
A Christian friend

I have been in that same place in my life. I don't know what your fears and worries are, but I do know that in my life they were paralyzing. My faith also was "quivering" and eventually failed. I gave up on God.

But He never gave up on me. Looking back now, I see how He worked using people and situations to guide me, take my hand, to hold me close, to be present and Love me even when I rejected Him. But I could not see it or even really feel it at the time and I felt alone until He slowly lead me to a better place. I pray you will also find the peace that goes beyond understanding.

Lastly, I will say "Do Something!" Don't let the fear paralyze you. Even if the "something" ends up being the wrong answer, learn from it and try again. While I do encourage you to quiet your soul and pray for guidance, I have a feeling based on your words that you have sitting and pondering your situation a long time and haven't made any decisions. If God can feed thousands from a few salty fish and two stale loaves of bread, what can he do with us if we just move forward in faith and leave the results up to Him? I think you already know the answer in your heart, I just hope God gives you the grace to get it to your head.

I will pray for you.

Your Brother In Christ,
AH

Wow, AH, that was so beautifully powerful. And the truth is, I KNOW I'm sitting on an egg I haven't hatched, so to speak, and it's slowly filling me with angst. Why am I afraid to act on the problem so God can give me the peace I long for? I know the answer in my heart, and I, too, pray that God will give me the grace to get it to my head. Amen, Brother In Christ :-)

I know this is the prayer that we always need to say but it is so darn hard to let loose of worry. As a chronic worrywart I am trying to go by this simple little prayer!!!

My husband starts chemo next week and I really never thought of praying that way, what a wonderful prayer when you dont know what to pray for. thank you

Great column--I too always have a family-full of things to cause anxiety as I pray, because often even prayer can become a strategy to solve problems. For day to day spiritual exercise, "Thy will be done" is I think one of the hardest sayings but also the one that, whenever we can say it, helps us most. We relax into being creatures and trusting children instead of Lord of the Universe wannabes.

Thank you for your story. I have been struggling with how to pray while going through similar anxious times and this blog could not have come at a better time!

Thank you so much for remind
ing me that I must trust God
I am not feeling too well at
the moment and your message was
came at the right time.
God bless you and all who
read these messages.. I

In these stressful times for me and my famoly, this was just on time.
Thanks for reminding me God is always in control and that we can come to Him with these 4 simple words.
Have a great day everyone.

How simple and easy to do. Many, many thanks!!!!

I like that and thank you for sharing that with me. That's always something good to think about God's will and what exactly would that be. I almost think Love should be substituted there. Since we are reminded in scripture that God is Love. And this is whom we are so fortunate to be created after. And so the part of ourselves that is aware of and knows this should never give up that God is Loving and that he loves us whom he created. That is my belief I don't think anyone else created us except him. A perfect and Loving Heavenly Father whom Jesus spoke of. After all if we who are created after him and in his image are capable of Loving. How much more he does. In whom we are so fortunate to be created after. If you stop and think for a moment of something as nice as Heaven. What would or could be better than everyone having a love for each other after actually making there. And what would that be. My guess is a love that doesn't have to prove itself constantly with one mindless, brain numbing challenge after another. Or that is not what I would consider my favorite pastime to do anyway. Also seems kind of illogical too. I request prayer that are hearts and minds are not sterile but fertile ground where God's Love can grow and multiply and bloom more and more with each passing year and grow rich in his infinite Love and mercy. That is not only possible but easy for God in his infinite love with just a word spoke us into existence. In fact could you imagine anything else less from a Creator who is the purest and highest form of Love. That is who I think of when I think of who created us.