Do you ever feel overwhelmed or overburdened by anxious thoughts and pressing needs as you come before God in prayer? In this article, Bethany Broderick shares 3 ways praying the names of God has helped her fight against anxiety and changed her prayer life for the better.
After a long day, I wash my face, brush my teeth, put on my pajamas, and drop into the armchair in the corner of our bedroom. I wearily pick up my prayer journal and pen, my fingers releasing all the anxieties weighing on me from the day.
I’m so busy right now, please help me feel less stressed. Be with my husband and his big work deadline coming up. Help my children learn how to be obedient… and to love You.
I lay my worries and concerns at God’s feet. These journal pages fulfill Scripture’s commands to cry out to the Father day and night (Luke 18:7) and to confidently draw near to God’s throne when we are in need (Hebrews 4:16).
DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING
As an anxious person, I’ve clung to the command and promise God gives in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I recite these verses whenever I feel my heart rate rise and my mind spin.
For a long time I only ever meditated on those two verses. But one day the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, and I realized Philippians 4:6 starts mid-sentence. Whoever established the boundary lines of chapters and verses cut the command—to not be anxious—away from its context: “The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5b).
MY FIGHT AGAINST ANXIETY
This verse helped me realize I was missing a key truth in my fight against anxiety. I am only able to release my worries through prayer because God is present with me! My anxiety is not taken away because I say magic words in a prayer, but I will be okay because my God is sovereign, good, and always with me.
The power of my prayer life is not found in my own prayerfulness, but in the character of God. Now, whenever I come before God to surrender the anxieties of my heart (or the requests of family members, my concerns for our nation, etc.), I begin by meditating on one attribute of God. When I ground my requests in who God is, I find His peace that surpasses all my understanding.
THREE WAYS PRAYING THE NAMES OF GOD HAS CHANGED MY LIFE
1. It Reminds Me To Whom I Am Praying
Why do Christians believe their prayers are effective in comparison to the prayers of other religions? It’s not because we have more beautiful prayers or better traditions. It’s because of Who we pray to. The power of our prayers has nothing to do with who we are; it has everything to do with who God is.
When I meditate on God as Creator, I am reminded He is the Author of all life and gives it order. When I acknowledge God’s sovereignty, I am trusting He can do whatever He knows is best. And when I pray to a God who is omniscient, I have faith that He knows what’s best because He knows everything.
Praying God’s attributes gives my prayer power because I remember the God to whom I am praying. It gives me the faith to surrender my anxieties at the feet of the One who is truly in control and wants what is best for me.
2. It Reminds Me Who I Am
As I pray the attributes of God, I am reminded of all the ways I am limited. God created humanity with limits: We can only know so much, go so far, and do so many things. When I focus my prayers on God’s attributes, I fight the temptation of self-sufficiency. When praying God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience—all things I am not—I surrender the burden I place on myself to do, know, and be everything.
It’s the same lie the serpent used to tempt Eve in the garden—to be like God. By meditating on verses that speak to God’s complete grace, mercy, and love, it doesn’t take long for me to realize that I cannot be God, and that is a good thing.
Beginning my prayers focusing on God’s character instead of my own abilities helps me to truly give my anxieties to God, trusting He can do what I can’t.
3. It Puts My Prayers In Context
So much in our culture is human-centered. My social media feed is tailored to my digital footprint. Amazon sends me ads based on what I’ve bought before. Spotify alerts me when my favorite artist releases a new album. Their goal is to meet my needs in my time.
Starting my prayer time focused on God instead of myself puts my prayers into the greater context of redemptive history. It’s easy for me to get so focused on my own day-to-day troubles that I forget to pray for God’s will to be done on earth.
For example, when I meditate on God’s justice I begin to see the injustices in the world which don’t affect me, and I pray God would bring justice for those people. When I meditate on His eternality, I remember the foundation of my prayers is a hope for a future promise, not just present answers. While God wants me to turn to Him for my daily needs, He also wants me to lift my eyes further in the distance and pray for the consummation of redemptive history—“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
Jesus begins His model prayer by centering it on the character of God the Father, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). You could recite the most beautiful of prayers, but if you were praying to a nonexistent god, they would be meaningless. Conversely, when we focus our prayers on the God who creates and sustains, the God of steadfast love and unending mercy, the faithful God who fulfills His promises—our prayers have power. Not because of who we are but because of who He is.
PRACTICAL EXAMPLES OF HOW TO PRAY THE NAMES OF GOD
While Scripture provides an abundant supply of God’s attributes and names, here are a few examples with accompanying Bible verses of how you can incorporate them into your prayer life.
- I praise You for being omnipotent, all powerful. There is so much outside of my control, but with You, anything is possible (Matthew 19:26).
- Thank You for being sovereign and completely in control of all creation. I can rest because You are holding me, my family, and everything together (Colossians 1:17).
- How just are You, God! While the world is filled with injustice, You have promised You will execute perfect justice that is righteous and true (Deuteronomy 32:4).
- I praise You for being wise. You are the Source of all wisdom; Your ways are higher than our ways. Thank You for freely giving me Your wisdom (James 1:5).
- Thank You for being omniscient, all-knowing. There is nothing hidden from You. I can trust Your perfect knowledge in my life (Hebrews 4:13).
- How righteous are You, God! You are completely blameless and upright. Everything You do in the world and in my life is good and right (Psalm 119:137).
- I praise You for being Love itself. You showed Your everlasting and steadfast affection for me by sending Your Son to die in my place (1 John 4:16).
- Thank You for being true. While the enemy sows lies, You are the Source of all truth. I can rely on You to guide me in the way of truth (John 14:8).
- How merciful and gracious are You, O God! You do not give me the punishment I deserve; instead You lavish me with steadfast love I do not deserve (Psalm 103:8).
- Thank You for being holy, set apart from Your creation. You are completely unlike me in my sin and limits; therefore, I can trust Your holy Word and will (1 Samuel 2:2).
- I praise You for being faithful. You hold onto me even when I cannot hold onto You. You always fulfill Your promises to Your people (Hebrews 10:23).
- How glorious You are, O God! I cannot comprehend Your beauty. You deserve all my praise and honor; help me to live today for Your glory alone (Psalm 104:1).
How does your understanding of God’s character impact how you pray to Him? What other characteristics can you praise Him for today?
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