Saturday, September 26, 2015

When Prayer Becomes Worry


The apostle Paul told us to be anxious about nothing, but to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6). Why, then, did I find recently that my prayer time on occasion left me with a feeling of unrest, rather than the peace that passes all understanding? (Philippians 4:7)

My husband and I were blessed with the unique opportunity to dance as soloists with the Spectacular Senior Follies in Dallas, an amazing, high-caliber, professional level show featuring a cast of more than one hundred talented, seasoned entertainers over age 55. 
There were five performances in Dallas at the Charles Eisemann Performing Arts Center, a beautiful venue seating more than 1500 people.

God brought together all the arrangements, working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), and we were delighted with the hospitality and professionalism of all those involved in the show. Our early rehearsals had gone well, with much enthusiasm and support from the directors and cast, and we were blessed to know that many in the cast were praying for us.

We were thrilled by the experience of dancing our choreography to a live band and an amazing Christian vocalist who brought new expression and meaning to the song, “You Light Up My Life,” with her unique, powerful, and Spirit-anointed interpretation.

But our first rehearsal at the Eisemann was a disaster. The floor surface, space, lighting, and music were all accommodating to our dancing; our bodies were in good shape and well prepared; and we were well rehearsed, with no reason for mental distress. Yet our balance, timing and connection were off to the point that we missed many moves ordinarily done with ease and consistency.

Our confidence being shaken, we turned to the Lord in prayer even more fervently than before. I felt like I was wrestling with God in prayer (Genesis 32:22-32). I found my prayers focused on God’s Word that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5), and that thought reverberated through my prayers so much that I feared it had become a vain repetition (Matthew 6:7).

Even worse, I wondered if constantly voicing my fears in prayer would result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, just as Job admitted that the thing he greatly feared had come to pass (Job 3:25). Yet I knew that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and I longed to yield to His Holy Spirit, to be an empty vessel He could use to His glory (Romans 9:21; 2 Timothy 2:21).

Our next rehearsal and first two shows went well, yet I still felt that something was missing. I kept fretting over being able to do nothing without Him. One of the cast members had encouraging words about our dance ministry and told us of his approach to praise and worship. He compared it to floating weightless in outer space, lifted up by Him to heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6) where there is no pressure, only the blessing of being filled with praise to Him (Psalm 71:8; Philippians 1:11).

Suddenly I realized why my prayers had turned more to worry than to praise, and why my dancing lacked the inspiration I sought. I was obsessing over being able to do nothing without God, and all the while God was saying, “This is true, but you are not without Me. Fear not, for I am with you!” (Matthew 28:20)

As our friend in the cast reminded us, and as we read in his book that he gave us, we have God the Father above us (Ephesians 4:6); Jesus the Son is Emmanuel, or God with us (Matthew 1:23); and the Holy Spirit is within every believer (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5), and He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will answer our prayers exceeding abundantly beyond what we could ask, imagine or think (Ephesians 3:20).

I felt that God was grieved (Ephesians 4:30) by my apprehension and worry, which actually represent the sin of unbelief (Mark 9:24). His Word commands us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and to be anxious about nothing, but to bring all our requests to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6). Giving thanks and praise in our prayer, knowing that He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8), should remove all anxiety. His perfect love casts out our fear (1 John 4:18).

Without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). He has given us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17), and He wants us to share in His great joy and rejoicing over us (Zephaniah 3:17) by expressing our joy in the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 27:6; 32:11; 35:9). This reminder allowed us to let go in our dancing, to yield completely to His guidance (Romans 6:13), and to experience our dance as worship and praise to His glory (Psalm 149:3; 150:4) and not as a performance that we had to control or manipulate.

For the remaining three performances we felt transported to heavenly places in Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6), and we pray that the audience was moved closer to Him also. Many who approached us afterwards had a tear in their eye or spoke of watching us dance as being a spiritual experience. One of the cast who viewed our dance from the wings said he felt as if I had gone into a trance and become like an angel, used by God to communicate His message.

In our flesh we can do no good thing (Romans 7:18), but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). May we yield to Him, praise and worship Him in every word and deed, and let Him use us mightily to His glory!  

© 2015 Laurie Collett
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16 comments:

  1. Hi Laurie,
    I agree with everything you have said here, and I was reminded of how powerful the Word of God is in our lives. I love the way that the Holy Spirit brings the Word of God to us just at the exact time that we need it, whether it be for comfort, counselling or guidance. We have a loving God, Who's thoughts are for our welfare, not to harm us, and who takes away all fear that the enemy might try to put into our minds.
    God bless you Laurie

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    1. Amen, Brenda! God's Word is alive, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, fulfilling any purpose He has called us to, that we may be equipped to carry out His perfect will. Praise God for Hos mercy, love, comfort and grace!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  2. Laurie,

    So glad you were able to find God's peace as you recalled His constant presence with you...many blessings to you :-) Sounds like it was a fun event.

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    1. Amen, Dolly -- He is the friend Who sticks much closer than a brother! It was a wonderful experience!
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  3. Dear Laurie,
    A very intriguing article.
    When focusing on the question: Am I performing well enough for God? I guess that we are focusing really on ourselves rather than on him, and therefore subjecting ourselves to failure.
    It looks to me that you have learnt an important lesson there, and at the same time giving me much food for thought. Financial worries are my biggest let down, and you are right - anxieties are linked to unbelief.
    As one who loves travel, probably I can draw a parallel by worrying over the pilot's ability to fly the airplane, instead of soaking in the experience with full joy. After all, at every journey, I have always arrived safely at my destination, whether we had much turbulence or not.
    May God bless you further in your dancing career.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      Great analogy -- even atheists have faith in the airplane pilot, so why should we as Christians not just leave the driving to the One Who knows and can do all and Who loves us infinitely? Worry changes nothing for the better and displeases Him.
      Thank you as always for your insights, encouragement, and blessings.
      May you have a blessed and joyful week in Him,
      Laurie

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  4. Beautiful! And living in the Dallas Area, I have been to the Eisemann for wonderful shows!

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    1. Thank you, Susan! The Eisemann truly is a beautiful venue! Love the light sculpture in the lobby!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  5. Beautiful, Laurie! And so true, He will never leave us and we never walk alone. No longer are we slaves to fear, but we are adopted as His own and we cry, "Abba! Father!" Thanks so much (and thanks for stopping by my place as well). :)

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    1. Thanks, Jason, for your uplifting comment! Praise God that He delights in His children and showers us with His love!
      Many blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  6. Hi Laurie,
    This was very encouraging to me. Thanks for sharing this with us. God bless you and your husband. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Sateigdra! I am bless to hear that you enjoyed the post!
      God bless you too!
      Laurie

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  7. What a wonderful experience the dance must've been and great reminders to worry less and enjoy the blessings we've been given. Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup. Pinning to our linkup board and hope you found some great posts to visit this week!

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    1. Thank you, Tanya, for your lovely comment, for hosting such a wonderful community, and for pinning!
      Many blessings to you,
      Laurie

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