Prayers on Fear

I’ve been rearranging and cleaning my office this weekend (see: procrastinating) and I came across the below entry dated 08/11/2015 in a composition book labeled Prayer Journal: 

“Lord, you call me out onto the waters and I know you’ve got me because you always have had me. But I still find myself clutching the boat. Refusing to step out in faith away from what I’ve always known. Deep down (and sometimes not so deep down) I’m still the little girl on the diving board that refuses to jump because I don’t know what will happen. I don’t think the swimming teacher will catch me, I don’t want to sink to the bottom, I don’t want to drown (yes, just from jumping off the diving board because WHAT IF!?!?!) 

And all the things I’m scared of are silly things that I know I shouldn’t be worried about at all. But there it is anyway: WORRY. Ever-present even though it adds nothing good, nothing positive, nothing beneficial to my life. 

Will things work out in spite of my worries? They always have. My attempts to control my life point me in a direction much less rich and much less full than the life you’d lead me to if I’d just get out of the way and let you. 

Help me open my ears to hear your instructions and open my eyes to see the path you’ve set out before me. And open my heart to want you more than me. Help me be less stubborn but still be strong. 

Even as I am asking for your help, I am resisting. External change is so much easier than internal change. I’m waiting for change to come, but not really working to change myself. Waiting for the switch to flip rather than getting up and taking steps towards becoming the woman I know I can be. The woman you call me to be. Even if I’m not ready for the big picture, help me see the small steps and start taking those.”

Wow. How completely relevant is this prayer to me still. Today. Almost exactly 4 years later. Which is a bit . . . frustrating. How am I still standing on the diving board, hesitating to jump, even after all this time?  

And in another notebook I found this entry from 08/24/2017: 

“What do you do when you know what the answer is, but you’re afraid to do the thing? (Short answer is you do the thing). But how? Why is it so hard? Why is it that KNOWING what you’re supposed to do is NOT easier? 

What do you do when your “comfort zone” is predicated on not knowing what you want to do, when in reality you know EXACTLY what you want to do, the part that remains an unknown is whether or not you’ll succeed. 

Think about the thing that scares you. The project you’ve had in the back of your mind that you keep pushing off. Keep managing to shy away from. 

It’s probably the thing you need to start working on right now.”

And here I am, a few more years later, still afraid to show up. Still worried I’m not good enough. Still running. Still hiding from God and the plans he has for me behind the fear and the worry and the crippling self-doubt. 

So what if this time, instead of praying to be less afraid, I pray to be made stronger? The fear clearly isn’t going anywhere. But what if I pray to be more confident, more willing to move forward, even in the midst of the anxiety that comes so easily to me. What if I change my prayer to something more like this. . . 

“Lord, thank you for seeing me even when I try to hide from you. Thank you for your patience. My prayer in the past has been to be less afraid. Today I ask that instead of taking away the fear, you give me strength and courage and the faith to trust you through the next small step that is right in front of me, regardless of the fear. I can take the next small step even if I am afraid. I can do what you have continually called me to do even if I am afraid. Maybe one day, with practice I will learn to be less afraid. And maybe I’ll spend the rest of my life scared. But I don’t have to let fear keep me from living the full, rich life you have called me to. Because no matter where on Earth the next small step in front of me leads, I know it will bring me closer to you. And the scariest thing of all is the thought of walking the other way.” 

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