Stress is all around us. It mocks us when we try to do something on our computers, and it won’t work. It attacks us in difficult relationships. It pressures us when there seems to be too much to do. It confronts us when we face obstacles in life that appear unsolvable. What are we to do about all that stress?
Put Into Practice
In Part 2 we discussed the importance of God’s Word as we deal with stress. However, even if we read our Bibles eight hours a day, if we never practice anything we learn, stress could still be our taskmaster. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). I can’t help but wonder if being a doer of the Word in regards to stress means being a woman of prayer. Here’s why I think that.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). If I were to put that first part in my own words, I might say, “Don’t let anything stress you. Instead lay those potentially stressful situations before the Lord in prayer!”
The antidote for stress is prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. Prayer is talking to God. Supplication is humbly asking Him for something. Thanksgiving is being grateful.
I had one goal for this week—to write the monthly Mom’s Corner—but here’s what happened. Monday we were preparing for a birthday. Two girls were gone helping a family who just had a baby, leaving me with a much larger portion of the preparation than I usually have. Tuesday I was catching up with e-mail because of Saturday’s Titus 2 prayer and fasting day. Wednesday and Thursday I had two very sick daughters with a stomach virus whom I was nursing while covering their part of the household work. That left Friday as the Mom’s Corner writing day. In the morning I had house cleaning to do, but the afternoon was available
Instead of sitting down at my computer when it was the right time and beginning the Mom’s Corner, I decided to quickly download an e-book Steve and I wanted to read together. When I went to download it, though, I couldn’t get it to work. As I spent more time fiddling with it, I began to feel stressed since I wasn’t moving on to my main goal of writing.
Danger of Avoiding Prayer
I will confess. I didn’t pray. I just kept pushing my efforts through while experiencing those stressful feelings. I wonder what would have happened if I had prayed. It might have gone like this: “Lord Jesus, You know that I really want to write the Mom’s Corner this afternoon, and I also would like to have this book ready for Steve and me to read tonight. I can’t get this book to download, and it is taking longer than I wanted it to take. Thank You, Jesus, for my computer. Thank You that I found the book as a free download. Would You please help me?”
I expect the Lord would have encouraged me to drop the book download and write the Mom’s Corner, going back to the download when the article was completed. After all, the Mom’s Corner was the priority. It is possible He might have directed me to the solution for the computer issue so I would have had the book available at bedtime when Steve and I read together for a little bit. At the least, I would have known that I was doing what He wanted me to do—praying. It would have made a difference in the way I experienced the stress. Instead, though, we often battle through the stress on our own, just like I did in this situation.
The Lord doesn’t want me to carry stress. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Do I really believe that? Do you? If I do, then I will give Him my cares through prayer.
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Did you ever wonder, when you come to that verse, how one prays without ceasing? We have discussed that as a family, and the more we learn about prayer, the more it appears the “praying without ceasing” is an attitude of prayer in everything. It is there when trying to download an e-book or write a Mom’s Corner. It is part of nursing sick loved ones. It undergirds decisions. It cries out for wisdom and grace when interacting with a grumbly, whining child.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Does perfect peace sound like the opposite of stressed to you? It sure does to me. I love that picture of a mom whose heart has perfect peace. I can just see her now. The house is full of children running here and there. She is in the midst of trying to get dinner on the table. The baby begins crying, but she has a sweet smile on her face because her heart has perfect peace. I desire that in my life, and I am sure you do as well. Sadly, in that situation, too often I know I had the furrows of a frown on my face as I stoically accomplished what needed to be done.
We stay our minds on God by praying. We pray because we trust that He cares for us and wants our cares cast on Him. We believe His Word. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
I doubt I will get it right every time, but I sure do like smiles better than frowns, peace better than anxiety, and praying better than stressing. “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). Will you call on Him and experience the power that prayer has as a stress buster?