Prayer over Panic

I used to struggle with public prayer. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted to say to God, but if I’m honest it was because I would have a moment of panic and my brain would go haywire thinking of the “right thing” to say.

I could (and did) pray all day long privately… every morning as I shuffled my feet from the bed to the coffee pot, I’d turn my random morning thoughts and feelings go worry for the day over to God. As I walked into or away from appointments and meetings, I’d pray under my breath for Jesus to strengthen me, let me know He was there with me, thank Him for how He’d protected or guided me just then. When I’d tuck my kids in at night, I’d speak boldly over their lives and pray through tears when scary things in the world were happening and I felt most inadequate as a parent to shield them or just plain guilty for losing my patience with them that day.
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I prayed to Him all the time privately without fear of sounding stupid or small or silly. But things changed when asked to pray publicly.
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I would suddenly feel the pressure that my words would be heard and judged by everyone as I was saying them. What If my words weren’t what everyone was expecting /needing me to pray? What if I “missed something important “ from scripture that would speak perfectly to the situation we were praying about?


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I was so scared of getting it wrong and people thinking I was a fake in my faith, or thinking I was not spiritual enough or good enough etc, that my prayers would be ineffective. These fears swirled around in my brain… it distracted me in my mind and it scrambled my thoughts so much that I couldn’t decide which words to say …so I’d freeze. I would stumble over my words. Eventually I decided to just shy away from speaking up in prayer circles or praying aloud in our women’s gatherings.
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My panic about this was so bad I even questioned how to pray in front of the elementary kids at children’s ministry. No joke. I mean… y’all… what 5 yr old was judging the words I chose to pray?! 🤦🏻‍♀️
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I felt anxious to speak up so I instead stayed quiet.
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And that carried over into many other areas of my life… not just public prayer. I thought staying quiet would keep me “safe” from judgement, from heart break, from ridicule, from the feeling of being exposed with opportunity to be rejected.
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But what I found over time was that this left me more frustrated and more scared and less fulfilled and less at peace with myself, my relationships, my circumstances… it robbed me of deeper joy, deeper peace, deeper faith.
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I realized It was selfish of me to stay silent in the face of people’s real needs. I was refusing to help others through prayer. I was holding back from sharing a part of myself because I was scared for mySELF. I believed the lie that it would be prideful of me to believe God could possibly use little me to help others with big problems through prayer.
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But what I discovered was… if I would trust the Holy Spirit to guide my words in my moment of feeling vulnerable in front of friends and sometimes strangers… then maybe they could for the first time hear and bring clarity or even validity to their OWN thoughts of fear, anxiety, and worry … and by being transparent with my personal inner dialogue with God, He could use our prayers together to transform those fear based thoughts into thoughts of hope and security and peace.
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“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5b-7 (NIV)
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I realized I didn’t have to be anxious about being criticized or judged because guess what?! I wasn’t performing like an actor on a stage. I was being more real than ever, helping real people walk through a real heart exchange with Christ. So He could do His work in our behalf and truly be our Prince of Peace.


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With all the crazy happening in the world right now … we are seeing so much fear come out on social media.
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Would you join me in giving it over to Him?
Whether publicly or privately… can we choose prayer over panic together?

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