Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer
by Jennifer Waddle
Chapter One: First Worries
You may not remember the first time worry entered your life or what caused your young heart to flutter with uncertainty. But I clearly remember one of my first moments of anxiety, and it has stuck with me all these years.
It was the time my little brother and I rode the Joy Bus. (This already sounds a little creepy, doesn’t it?)
It was a big, white bus that would come through the neighborhoods to pick up kids for the Wednesday night service at one of the local churches.
For some reason, my mom decided one evening to let my brother and I go. The minute we got on that bus, I started to worry. My brother was probably around two at the time, and I was five. I remember feeling so very responsible for his safety!
I sat him right beside me on that Joy Bus, and didn’t let any of the rowdy kids near him. Then, as the bus began to move, the leaders in the front began singing songs with us. As a very musical child, I was happy at first. Then they got to the verse that said, “If the devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack, sit on a tack, sit on a tack…”
I didn’t like the fact that they were singing about the devil! My little, worried self became very, very concerned, and I couldn’t wait for the song to be over. Once we got to the church, they lined us up according to age, and my brother was whisked away to the preschool room. I cried. I didn’t know the people who were taking him and I thought for sure they wouldn’t care for him like I would! I fretted the entire time until we were finally taken home. And you know what? We never rode the Joy Bus again. (Thank the Lord)
My brother and I laugh about it now, but it was one of the first times I was truly worried.
What about you? What are some of the earliest worry memories you have?
I’m not going to turn this into any psychoanalysis or anything. I simply want us to realize that worry may have started at a very young age and quickly became a pattern. In fact, little did I know, my experience on the Joy Bus would be a glimpse into how I would parent my own kids.
I had my first two boys one year apart. I once again became like the five-year-old girl with my brother. I sheltered them, kept them close, tried to keep rowdy children away, covered their ears against songs about the devil, and pretty much worried myself sick over them! From the time they woke up to the time they were tucked in bed, I fretted over those boys until I almost went bonkers.
Fortunately, the Lord was patient and kind and slowly grew me into a much different mother after my daughter was born. The stretching of my faith began with a simple yet powerful prayer in the face of worry.
Our little Hannah was born with a full head of dark hair, rosy cheeks and a scowl. She was placed in my arms and I kissed her forehead, thanking God again and again for our girl. With two boys at home, we were thrilled to have a daughter.
Then, the nurse peered over my shoulder and immediately said, “Here, I need to take her for a minute.” Before we knew it, more nurses were coming in, as well as doctors and other staff members.
It seemed something was blocking Hannah’s airway. She was gasping for air. They suctioned and suctioned and finally rushed her to the NICU to be intubated. Of course, we were worried to death. My husband followed the nurses, trying to stay as close to our baby as possible.
When I was able, I went to the NICU to get an update. Seeing my newborn hooked up to all the tubes was horrible. I felt like I was in a dream—a very bad dream.
The doctor on call came over and ushered us to another room. He said there was a mass coming down from behind her soft pallet and it was blocking her airway. He then said something that shocked us to the core. He said it was possible the bones at the bottom of her skull had not fused together and her brain was actually coming down, literally into her throat.
We were sick. We clung to each other, not having a clue what the next days would bring. The doctor left quickly, stating they would do a CT scan to determine what the mass really was. The next several hours blurred one into the other. I was on my feet practically from the moment I delivered her. Weary and helpless, the news finally came.
It was not Hannah’s brain that was coming down, it was a tumor. Luckily it was benign, but she would need to have surgery. They immediately sent her to Denver Children’s Hospital. We drove home to quickly pack a bag and say goodbye to our boys. At five and six, they didn’t understand what was happening to their tiny sister. I felt so torn between staying to comfort them and leaving to be with my baby.
The next day, we met the doctor who would be performing the surgery. She informed us she had dealt with this kind of tumor before, but warned us that it was in a very difficult place. She went on to say that it was possible Hannah would never speak or swallow and that there were definite risks from such an invasive surgery on such a tiny a baby.
She finally underwent surgery, and afterward when I saw her, I had to cry. She was so very pale and swollen. Her little tongue was hanging out because of the swelling. It was awful.
It was then that my faith in God was tested beyond anything I’d ever gone through. I sensed Him telling me that I would need to trust Him fully, even if He chose to take her to heaven.
It was as if He was asking, “Will you still say that I am good if I take your daughter from you?”
The thought frightened me. It overwhelmed me. It made me want to beg and plead and cry. It threatened my faith.
God in His great love and perfect plan, brought me to a place where I was able to surrender my baby completely to Him. I remember leaning over the plastic hospital bassinet with a broken heart and a cracked voice, singing, “God is so good. God is so good. He’s so good to me.” Over and over I sang that phrase. And each time, I think I believed it a little more than the time before.
Bit by bit, Hannah recovered. She was able to swallow and make sound and hear. The nerves in her face were not damaged, and two weeks later, she came home to meet her older brothers and become part of our family.
My faith was tested that year as worry took on a form I had never experienced. Yet, something in me broke. That desperate need to hold on to everyone, to keep everyone safe, and to prevent everything bad from happening was finally released into the hands of God with one simple phrase…God is so good.
Dear one, where are you at today? How did your anxious life begin? How can I help you get to the place where no matter what, God is good?
Over the next several chapters, we will see how our deepest worries, our strongest fears, and our most persistent anxieties can be turned into powerful prayers that will rise like incense before the throne of God.
“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.”(Revelation 8:3-4 NKJV)
Thoughts to Ponder and Questions to Discuss:
> Sometimes, God uses our deepest worries as an opportunity to test our faith. At those times, it is important to reach a place where we can say, “God is good—no matter what my circumstance.”
Has there been a time when you felt God was testing your faith and asking you to trust Him no matter what?
Please read James 1:2-8 and list the benefits of God’s testing.
> It is possible that some of our persistent worries are really bad habits that have been allowed to take root and flourish.
What were some of your first worries? Because of those, did worry become a pattern in your life?
Please read 2 Timothy 1:13-14. What words are we to hold fast? How can we do that? By what power?
> God really does hear every prayer—even when it doesn’t seem like it.
Do you struggle with knowing He hears you? How do you usually react when you think God is silent or uncaring?
Please read 1 John 5:14-15. In who is our confidence? How should we ask of God? Does this mean we get everything we want?
More resources for the journey:
*Was this chapter helpful to you? I pray it has encouraged you to view worry in a whole new way. To purchase the eBook, click HERE. The print version of Prayer WORRIER is coming soon! Because you are on my mailing list, you will be the first to know when it is available. Thank you, and God Bless!