By Lisa Henley Jones
“I want you to be free of anxieties.” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:32a
Each morning, I sit with a mug of coffee, a journal, and spiritual reading for my morning reflections.
Except this morning, I was scrolling on social media, reading through the drama and chaos in the world. I tried to reason with myself that I was staying “in the know” with news, events, and hot-button issues that impacted my family. “Yes, I’m interrupting my time with God, but this ‘stuff’ is important to my family,” I reason. Putting down my phone, my mind obsesses about an upcoming vote by our local school board, thus squandering my morning time with Jesus.
Free from Anxieties
As I read today’s scripture, I realized St. Paul is onto something in his letter to the Corinthians.
“I want you to be free from anxieties.” 1 Corinthians 7:32. Our lives are riddled with distractions that fill us with anxieties and concerns. It’s so easy to become consumed with the world’s problems, causing us to turn our eyes away from God. How much work and stress do we put into worrying about things? Many that don’t directly concern us or that we can’t control!
How do I turn away from the distractions, anxiety, and worry and focus on God? For me, I first acknowledge the distraction, worry, or concern and then surrender the anxiety. I turn it over to God and trust His will, mercy, and goodness.
Prayer for Anxiety
Recently, I discovered a prayer to help me release my anxieties and worries to God. When I say discovered, I mean I caught myself mouthing the words of this prayer at Mass while the priest said them.
“Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” The Embolism at Mass
Doesn’t it sound familiar?
If you can’t place it within the context of the Mass, you’re not alone. It’s the words we hear the priest pray each Mass immediately after the “Our Father.”
The day I first truly heard this prayer, I sat up straight. I read the words over and over again in my missal. A bit later, I began praying it with a slight change. I substituted “my” and “I” in place of “our” and “we.” Suddenly, the prayer became personal and more powerful with that simple tweak. It’s a cry to God for mercy and peace amid my distress and worry.
God Wants Our Love
St. Paul’s warning that our anxiety and worry pull our attention from God is accurate. He understood how easy it can be to be consumed by the problems in the world and get distracted from God’s love. God understands our distractions and worries, but that’s not what He wants for us. God wants our focus, our love, our adoration. He wants us to hand over our worries and trust in Him.
It is a constant journey, but continuous prayer will lead us to peace and focus on Christ.
Lord, you have given me the desire to be close to you. I ask for your help surrendering my anxieties so I may better love and adore you as you deserve.
Call to Action
When you find yourself worrying, close your eyes. Picture Jesus standing in front of you. See yourself placing that concern into His hands. Feel the lightness in your body as He receives it. Take a deep breath and offer Jesus a prayer of gratitude and love.
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