And so, yes, we should pray when we are anxious. We should pray for God’s confidence, and for the courage to move forward in the face of uncertainty.
It should be noted, however, that it can be difficult to discern between anxiety and the Spirit’s prompting. One might say, “I don’t know if I lack faith, or if God is trying to tell me to go in another direction.” Presently, I am a candidate for elective surgery. A few years ago I had rotator cuff surgery, and my doctor suggested I have a bone shaved in my other shoulder to avoid a similar injury. I haven’t pursued the surgery because I am not sure its benefits are worth the potential risks. Am I being controlled by anxiety, or is God guiding me in my decision? Is my reluctance an emotional response or a spiritual provocation?
Sometimes people use the more secular term “premonition” to describe the mysterious feeling they have that indicates a future event, and usually an unwanted one. People with premonitions make special preparations for something they sense is about to happen. Anxious people might refuse to move forward because of premonitions.
Since we can’t possibly know for certain what our feelings are telling us, we must pray the anxious prayer and ask God to help us make sense of tomorrow. We consult His Word to make sure we aren’t missing an obvious signpost, then do our best to be obedient. In time, we might discern what we thought was anxiety was actually God putting the brakes on a bad idea. What we believed to be a step of faith was really a bad idea couched in our personal goals and agendas.
The anxious prayer is one of the most important prayers we will ever offer. Whether we are uncertain due to our circumstances, our direction, or even the demands of others, God will help us wade through what we cannot know for certain and embrace His will for our lives.