As if life doesn’t bring enough real perils, I have this bad habit of imagining unreal fears. If I don’t head them off, I can really get myself worked up over these imagined perils.
Imagined fears surface most when I’m asleep. If I “over-entertain” them, they fester long enough to cross over from my subconscious to consciousness. That’s when I awaken with a prompting to pray.
“Lord, I confess this fear. Rescue me.”
Prayer isn’t a magic button or anything. It works in concert with faith, my conviction that God loves me, redeems me and is in control of my life no matter what happens.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7, ESV)
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24, ESV)
Notice the parts God reserves for us - “If you abide” and “believe.” God is ever strong, true and faithful but my faith sometimes wavers and fear gains a foothold. That’s when I resign myself to get out of bed, don my robe, grab a bible and head to my favorite late night prayer chair.
A frequent companion of these middle-of-the-night intervention sessions is a little devotional book I bought 35 years ago, “The Personal Promise Pocketbock.” It’s a simply organized index of Bible verses selected from 10 different translations regarding three groupings of God’s promises and purposes...for me, my relationship with Him, and my relationship with others.
Lest anyone mistake me for one of stalwart, unshakable faith, let me confess that the most turned-to promises in the booklet regard “feeling depressed and desperate” (pg 19) and “I’m afraid” (pg 22).
Occasionally during these anxious moments, God responds in a rescuing manner with a peaceful tranquility whooshing through me like a calming breeze swooping down from heaven. But most often, He coaxes me in thought to figuratively stand in faith to confront the fear with the authority of His word.
Usually, just a couple of verses gets me headed back to bed and sleep but sometimes, a more determined offensive is required. During one particularly challenging night, I prayed through a number of verses before finally locking onto 2 Timothy 1:7 in the “I’m afraid” list.
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul exposes where these spirits of fear originate.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)
Wrestling is not a passive sport. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t the bathrobe-attired sumo-dude standing in his living room that finally dispelled that persistent principality that had ahold of me that night. But me standing in faith was definitely a part of the equation, bathrobe and all.
I don’t why God so explicitly prefers involving little people like me in his redemptive work but I appreciate that he does.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6, NIV)
Furthermore, he cares about our well-being all the way down to ensure that we are fortified with a good night’s sleep each night.
“If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:24)