Prayer for stress relief - Does prayer work to reduce stress?
Let us face the facts: we all have stress. It is the way we deal with stress that differs. The good news is that prayer for stress relief works! Prayer is that unique form of communication with God available to the believer that, when used often and in accordance with God's will, brings us into alignment with God's viewpoint. Being in good alignment means that our whole being is put into its proper perspective and that means life is less stressful and we are better able to deal with the stress we do have.
A proper perspective of our reality is often the biggest stress reliever there is. There is a saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff, it is all small stuff." The proper perspective helps us to understand that our stress is not unique or strange and it cannot defeat us without our help. In other words, when it comes to stress, we give it the power that it has over us. Living a prayer-centered life changes that equation. It is also an amazing thing of irony, but praying for others or intermediary prayer helps to put our own needs into perspective. Because when we focus upon the needs of others, our own needs become less of a focus. "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4).
The adage that "Prayer changes things," is only partly right, especially in stress relief. Prayer changes the one doing the praying. God is sovereign and when we pray, we are told to pray with in the will of God as Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13. This model of prayer is a good basis to start from and it can lead us into a deeper life of prayer. This deeper communion with Christ has a result of bringing a clearer understanding of our dependence upon God and His grace, which changes us and can consequently result in changing "things."
James makes this statement: "You ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" (James 4:15). Therefore, when we are praying, we need to do so not with a personal laundry list but with the attitude of submission to God and His will. That is not to say that we should not use prayer for stress relief. "You do not have, because you do not ask God" (James 4:2). There is nothing in our lives that God does not know about so when we pray we are not informing Him. Rather, we are bringing our will into alignment with His Will.
But how does prayer relieve stress? When we communicate with God, we do so on a one-to-one basis with no intermediary. This is the only time when we can be honest with ourselves and with God. You'll find no artifice in the prayer closet. One can't simply mumble "I'm fine" when one is alone with God. The realizations that God knows our frame, has a clear understanding of who and what we are, and that He loves us anyway gives us a humility that strips us of false pride and opens our heart to allow the LORD to change us. Situations that cause stress in our life may not change instantly, but our attitude of peace in the face of the stress will make our life seem different. The result of prayer as a stress relief is the recognition of our dependence upon the "Prince of Peace" to bring us through anything!
A prayer for stress relief might include some of the following statements to God: "Father, I know that You know my life and You know the problems and stress that I face. Help me to keep my eyes not on the problems or the stressful situations, but upon You and Your mercy and grace. Father, I cannot change the situations that cause stress in my life but I know that You can. LORD, keep my heart humble and willing to submit to the 'all things' that you have allowed into my life. Father, give me Your strength to stand because although I do not understand how this will change me, I know that You are working in and through me to conform my life to glorify You. Lead me into Your truth by helping me to surrender to Your Word. In the name of Jesus, Amen."
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