Prayer and Anxiety Are Like a Really Badly Mixed Drink

I hate silence.

Silence gets on my nerves. So if you see me at work or at home, there’s probably something being played, whether it’s a TV show episode or music or something that goes into my ears. Just about the only time there’s nothing played is when I’m in conversation with someone, and that’s because there’s noise being thrown in my direction.

The main reason silence gets on my nerves is resultant of my anxiety. Because I’m constantly on edge, I need noise to distract me from what’s going on in my head. If I stop to think, my brain kicks into overdrive and I start thinking about the millions of things that are going on in my life. OK, perhaps the “millions” is a bit of an exaggeration.

One of the major side-effects, I’ve learned, of dealing with anxiety is that prayer becomes a million times harder.

Sorry, exaggeration again.

Just now, I was sitting down and I was going to pray for a little bit and I got anxious about a couple things. I began asking questions of myself, thinking over and over about the pertinent questions I currently face. I couldn’t calm down my mind enough to pray.

To pray! To spend time talking to my Creator, my Lord and Savior! I couldn’t calm down enough to do that. The guilt is overbearing in those moments. I want to pray, but I don’t want to overthink. One of the easiest ways to combat anxiety is to just change the topic, do something different, but in this situation, I was going to pray.

If only prayer was as easy for everyone as it is for the dude in the picture at the top of this post.

So I end up avoiding prayer. It’s become a pattern over the last few weeks. I can’t just sit and concentrate on prayer alone. I can worship, I can read the Bible, but I need something going on in the background or else I can’t focus. I’m listening to music right now as I write this so I don’t get distracted.

I don’t know if this is a result of the society I live in where distractions are left and right. I don’t know if this is solely a result of my struggle with anxiety. Heck, it could be something entirely different. Living with anxiety means you rarely ever get to slow down, relax, enjoy what’s going on around you. It takes very special circumstances.

Perhaps I need to explore more options for those circumstances. Perhaps I need to be more intentional. Perhaps I’m being sinful. Perhaps I’m missing something.

I’m writing this really as a way to get all my thoughts out and, perhaps, help someone understand more about the spiritual implications of physical anxiety. Lots of people deal with anxiety and stress, but for some of us, it’s a chemical affliction that’s a daily part of our lives, not just something that comes every now and then when there’s a big decision. It affects your whole life, everything about you. And it can be quite damaging spiritually.

That’s where knowing the depth of the Gospel grace that Christ gives is so important in dealing with anxiety and depression. It’s so easy to just say, “Let go and let God,” but it’s not that simple. It takes work, effort and time.

All things Jesus gave so that it’s OK that I struggle to pray. It’s not the end of the world. God’s grace is much bigger than my anxiety.

Now let me try praying again.