Generally speaking, anxiety could be described as a deep and sometimes distressing concern for something or someone, to the point of irregular physical, mental, and/or emotional health. We can all experience feelings of worry or tension in life, but when they become debilitating, it can be very difficult.
Two Unlikely Candidates for Anxiety
Many people also struggle and suffer with reoccurring anxiety. One person I’d point out right away is Paul the apostle. He writes in Philippians 2:28, “I am the more eager to send [Epaphroditus], therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.” Again in 2 Corinthians 11:28 Paul writes, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” Even though Paul preached against anxiety (Philippians 4:6), he still had to deal with it.
But what about Jesus? Did he ever have a deep and distressing concern for something, to the point where his physical, mental or emotional health was irregular? Yes.
In three of the four gospels, we’re told of how Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane during the night of his betrayal. Jesus knew what was coming. He knew what the Father had planned for him – the physical and spiritual agony he was to endure. He began to feel anxious.
Look at how the gospel writers describe Jesus at this moment:
“…he began to be sorrowful and troubled…” (Matthew 26:38)
“…[he] began to be greatly distressed and troubled.” (Mark 14:33)
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
Jesus was not experiencing mere “worry” or “tension,” but a deep distress for what lied before Him.
A Prayer for the Anxious
Now, I reflect on the anxiety of both Paul and Jesus to help us know that if they could work through it, we can work through it. How? God not only shared our anxiety with us through Christ, but he also showed us what to do in our anxiety.
In the midst of debilitating agony, Jesus prayed to his Father. He prays an incredible prayer: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
With that being said, I want to provide a prayer for anyone experiencing anxiety. And don’t worry, it’s not weird or unusual to pray a written prayer. It can be just as (or more) authentic than praying a prayer yourself.
Father, even though I’m struggling right now and my emotions are heavy, I will discipline my mind to remember who you are.
You are the Triune God. My small mind barely scrapes the surface of all that you are, but I will try and think of your greatness. You created the entire universe, and everything in it proclaims your infinite worth and value – including me.
I recognize that my purpose is to reflect you in all of your goodness, yet have failed miserably because of my deep sin. At the same time, I recognize your deep love for me and am overwhelmed at the cost you paid for my sin in the gospel. Thank you for your gift of grace through the redemption that is in Jesus. And thank you for the gift of faith that I might receive his goodness.
And now, I think upon the earthly matters that are causing so much grief and turmoil within me. By your Spirit’s help, I cast my anxieties on you. I ask for a renewal of hope and peace. I ask that a solution would come quickly to my situation, but at the same time declare that your will be done.
Again, I say with Jesus, your will be done.