The Prayer that Breaks the Worry Cycle (Part 2)

For the last few weeks, we’ve been delving into the prayer that Jesus uttered in the Garden before He was crucified, and the difference it can make if you’re prone to worry or uncomfortable with uncertainty. (If you missed the earlier posts, you can catch up here, here and here.) Today, we wrap up this little series with another anecdote about how this prayer has helped me, along with some final thoughts about its current relevance.

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You may wonder, as I sometimes have, if praying for God’s will and not ours during an uncertain situation shows a lack of faith.

When Randy and I prayed this way during our years of infertility, for example, I sometimes felt as if I were hanging on to an escape clause, giving both God and myself a way out in case my prayers for a baby weren’t answered the way I wanted. (Sort of like the fine print of prayer, if you will).

I believed that He could make me pregnant, no matter what the doctors said. But I didn’t know whether He would, and at times I felt as if praying this way was my own little way of protecting myself and keeping my expectations in check.

But then, I had to keep going back to the peace I was experiencing. I wasn’t worrying. (Given my previous struggles in this area, that was a miracle in itself.) I wasn’t fretting. I wasn’t agonizing over what was going to happen to me in the future.

All that reassured me that this really was a good way to pray. And the fact that Jesus Himself prayed like this pretty much sealed the deal—I don’t think it would have been included in scripture if it wasn’t meant to guide and encourage us.

As I shared last week, praying for God’s will to be done during that season of infertility was what finally released me from the stronghold of worry that had held me captive since childhood. Since then, though, I’ve had to return to the prayer again and again, as God continues to give me opportunities to choose trust over worry and fear.

Sometimes I fail miserably. Other times, it takes me a while to get there, but when I finally remember, it never fails to usher in the peace that surpasses all understanding.

For example, we found out in late 2003 that Randy was going to be let go from a company he’d been with for 10 years. The good news was that he discovered this was going to happen several months before it did, so he had time to prepare. But the impending job loss was still stressful, and even more so because we were building a house and preferred to have some degree of financial stability during that process.

I knew I needed to submit this concern to God in prayer, but instead, I often found myself giving Him a 17-step plan of what I thought should happen. Randy needed to get a job with this company, and it needed to come at this time and in this way so that all of our insurance and budgetary needs would be covered.

When I caught myself telling God what needed to occur with Randy’s job, I had to keep going back to that prayer—not my will, but yours be done. Once again, praying this way brought me peace during those months of waiting and uncertainty. It helped me hold my expectations of what was going to happen loosely. It reminded me that I was not in control or responsible for the outcome.

Still, for me, trusting God about our financial future was much more difficult than trusting Him about our future family.

Everything I believed about God when we were dealing with infertility was still true. He was still sovereign. His plan for me was still perfect and good, even if it included things I didn’t like or didn’t understand. He still loved me. He still knew what was best for me and my family. He still wasn’t going to leave me nor forsake me.

But I still had to make a conscious decision to trust Him. And for me, verbalizing that prayer once again kept me focused on what I knew to be true and helped me (mostly) avoid my old habit of worrying.

This applies to so many things that might concern us today, doesn’t it? The upcoming presidential elections. The appointment of Supreme Court justices. Unsettling changes in the world and in society. Healing for ourselves and loved ones. Provision of our daily needs. And so on.

Not my will, but yours be done.

Although I didn’t really plan to delve into this topic quite so deeply this summer, I’m glad I did. I need these reminders now more than ever, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one. But before I shut the door (at least for now) on this unexpected little series, I want to add one last thought.

When we pray for God’s will to be done and begin holding our expectations—about anything—more loosely, it does not mean that we are abandoning hope. Yes, the Greek word for “hope” does mean “confident expectation,” but the key here is the object of our hope.

We get in trouble when we put our hope in something that we want to happen, or someone we want to come through for us in some way. It is only when we place our hope—our confident expectation—in God, in His Word, in His unfailing love—that we can have peace in the midst of uncertainty.

Lois Flowers

P.S. Parts of this post were adapted from my book Infertility: Finding God’s Peace in the Journey (Harvest House, 2003), available here.

Also, this week I’m linking up with Suzie Eller and friends at #LiveFreeThursday.

26 Responses to The Prayer that Breaks the Worry Cycle (Part 2)

  1. Suzie Eller says:

    Thank you for linking up! I love this post. It’s honest, gentle, and helpful. : ) Prayer is powerful!

  2. Dawn says:

    I identified so well with what you were saying. I too wondered, at one time, about the idea of saying “your will be done” as a kind of escape clause. But you said it so well. It’s about trusting God. He knows, far better than I, how to best answer my prayers. Thank you for linking with Grace and Truth last week.

  3. Lois, I’m very late to the party this week, but I had to say your post resonates with me. I, too, had to come to the place on our infertility journey where I could say, “Not my will, Lord. Your will.” It was a humbling, freeing place to pray for and expect God’s will with no agenda from me. I’m a firm believer in praying for God’s will to be done in my life. When I release my plans and ask for His plans, things always turn out better. Not always easier, but always better. Thanks for these reminders, my friend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      “Not always easier, but always better.” That’s it exactly, Jeanne. God knows what He’s doing, and His way is perfect. Glad you made it to the party … the door here is always open to you! 🙂

  4. Oh, my heart! Lois, this was just for me today. “…but the key here is the object of our hope.” Getting down on my knees. Sharing this. Thank you, dear friend for sharing the lovely heart and faith the Lord has given you!

  5. Linda Stoll says:

    Yes, yes.

    I’ve learned through the hard times that this 4 word prayer frees me up. It calms my soul ’cause I don’t have to strive to figure out the right answer or know the end from the beginning.

    It builds trust because it begs release.

    But it’s not easy. No, it isn’t.

    You offer so much food for thought here, Lois. I’m gratefully a fan …

  6. Lisa notes says:

    This: “His plan for me was still perfect and good, even if it included things I didn’t like or didn’t understand.” May we all learn to trust him more when we have unanswered questions. Thanks for sharing more of your story here, Lois. I’m encouraged by your faith.

  7. I agree that I feel more peaceful when I leave a situation in God’s hands. If only I always thought of it in the beginning!

  8. Wow…definitely thought provoking Lois! I love the scripture from 1 John about praying God’s will. I’m learning that it’s a heart thing. When we are seeking Him, our heart will will align with His will. I never thought I was saying that as a “backup”. I know we can question at times but I am learning that Satan wants to discourage us and cause us to doubt. I love how you closed this post…reminding us where and in whom to put our hope. Oh what an amazing Savior! Thank you for your honest and heart felt thoughts. Have a wonderful weekend and may God richly bless you and yours!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I appreciate your perspective, Horace. And you’re right … God is not the author of discouragement, and we do well to remember that when we are struggling! Thank you for your kind words today.

  9. Hi Lois,
    I always enjoy your well written posts. You raise some interesting questions about prayer, as I’ve been thinking about it too as I’ve prayed through a desire for the past three years. What a mystery it is! Just when I think I have my situation figured out, something new and unexpected happens and I have to recalibrate and bring it all back to God, finally realizing I’m content not knowing the future. Thank you for sharing these posts this summer!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Valerie, isn’t it funny how God orchestrates those opportunities to, as you say, “recalibrate?” Three years is a long time to pray for something … your ability to be content in the midst of the unexpected and uncertain is such an encouragement to me!

  10. Kristina says:

    Lois I am so glad I came back. That prayer at the top of your post and how you felt is exactly how I feel too when I pray for my husband’s salvation. It is like letting go while still holding onto the hope that God does change his heart but struggling with that idea what if it isn’t God’s will. I have a grandma who is a Christian but had a non believer husband. She tells everyone that the Holy Spirit told her that grandpa would become a Christian before he died. That was almost 40 years ago. My grandpa died this past December. We have no idea if he did. There was definitely a HUGE change in his personality through out the 16 years my family and I lived in the same town. Even my uncle said that he saw grandpa reading the Bible. I hold onto that if God wanted to save him that last few hours after his heart attack before he died, He would have had. It is in cases like that that makes me be afraid of whatever happens with my husband. But I hold onto the fact that God is in control and His way is perfect as you said. Sorry so long. Love the post. I didn’t realize you had two more other parts of this : ) visiting from coffee for your heart #36

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Kristina, I’m so glad you came back for more too! Thank you for sharing how this ties into your story with your husband … what a challenging situation to be in! Your heart for him is obvious and I pray that God would comfort and guide you as you continue to pray for his salvation. And you didn’t write too much … the experience with your grandpa is an important part of this for you! 🙂

  11. Karlene says:

    Beautiful encouragement here today. As the type-A INTJ that I am, it takes consistent reminders for me to totally place y trust in Him and not keep trying to take it back after I submit it in prayer. (Visiting from #TellHisStory where we’re neighbors this week.)

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Karlene, isn’t it interesting how our God-given personality types impact the way we function spiritually–challenges and all? 🙂 I love that you are aware of how being a type-A INTJ affects your faith walk!

  12. Mary Geisen says:

    Your prayer “not my will but yours” is powerful and can really change the way we seek God in our lives. I love the idea of letting a situation go completely to God. He is our hope-not a new job, a raise or whatever else we are hoping for. Thank you for this prayer and for opening my eyes to seeing again how God takes our prayers and really does answer them. Releasing it all to Him allows us to find the hope and peace we need.

  13. Kristi Woods says:

    “Not my will, but Yours…” such strong and reliable words. Lois, I like how you intertwined many real-life scenarios. Those examples were the rubber meeting the road for prayer and trust. #goJesus! Visiting today via #raralinkup.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Kristi, even as I’ve been posting this series, I’ve had significant opportunities to meditate on this prayer yet again. Aren’t you glad that God’s lessons in our lives never have an expiration date? 🙂 Have a blessed day, my friend!

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