How to Pray Your Way Through Christmas Stress

Stay serene and present in the midst of holiday chaos by focusing on what's truly necessary. 

Posted in , Dec 9, 2019

Christmas stress

I remember reading a survey about holiday stress a few years ago when everyone around me was in the thick of addressing cards, buying gifts, scheduling visits, decorating, buying groceries, baking, going to holiday parties and so on.

The feedback indicated overwhelming stress around spending extra money. And moms felt extra stressed by all the cooking and cleaning and trying to make sure the family was having Christmas fun.

Stressed yet?

You’re not alone. But there’s hope; there’s help. There are ways to pray through the stress and anxiety and stay centered—even serene—amid the swirl and chaos of the Christmas season.

Remember the story of Mary and Martha from the Bible? Luke reported it in his Gospel:

As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42, NIV).

We can be sure that having Jesus visit in her home was a very special occasion to Mary and Martha. But their different approaches can help us pray through the busyness and stress of our own special occasions. We may identify with Martha. Her preparations were probably good stuff: making beds, sweeping floors, putting some bread in the oven, maybe spraying some air freshener. Good stuff. But not necessary stuff.

But look again at the account and tell me who was stressed and who was serene. And notice too what Jesus said to Martha, as the NASB translates the phrase, “Only one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:42a, NASB).

So it is in our lives. In our holidays. Our celebrations. Many things would be nice, even good. But only one thing is necessary. So, to reduce holiday stress, choose one necessary thing.

It’s so easy to want our holiday season to be perfect. Perfect decorations, perfect atmosphere, perfect gifts, perfect meals, perfect parties. And we end up like Martha.

Choose one necessary thing each day: Pray. Sit at Jesus’ feet, even if only for a few seconds or a handful of minutes. Press pause. Calm yourself. Breathe deeply. Focus on Him. Listen to Him. Speak to Him. Discover the difference a focus on Jesus can make.

One. Necessary. Thing.

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