It was just before midnight and it felt like the world was closing in. Stress, worries, fears, and a list of “What if’s”. (Why does everything always seem so much bigger and insurmountable at night?”
No matter how much I tried to push it out of my mind and go to sleep, my thoughts kept circling.
Even though it sounds odd, praying about the situation(s) just seemed to add to the stress as I rehashed the dilemmas’ to God.
That’s when I was faced with a choice:
Stay up all night trying to solve problems that I really couldn’t do anything about (especially not in the middle of the night) or choose to take control of my thoughts.
“How did you control your thoughts?” you might ask.
Well, I started by choosing to put off worry and put on Thanksgiving.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
You see the thing about Thanksgiving is that it is more than just a holiday we celebrate with a big meal and family. “Thanksgiving” is actually a form of prayer---a tool that God has given us to overcome anxiety.
Just about midnight when I was filled with anxious thoughts, I decided that I had spent more than enough time replaying all of my needs, all of my fears, and all of the potential things that could go wrong. Instead, I decided right then and there to start listing all of the things I had to be thankful for.
Instead of stressing about finances, I thanked God for all He had provided.
Rather than worrying about a health issue that needed to be healed, I thanked God for healing He’d provided in other areas.
Instead of focusing on looming challenges, I thanked God for the ways He’d miraculously helped us overcome similar challenges over the past few months.
It was a form of spiritual warfare---choosing thanksgiving over stress---faith over fears.
And then I took it a step further.
After “putting on thanksgiving”, I chose to use another tool God has given us in prayer. I chose to pray in the Spirit.
Ephesians 6:18 tells us to: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Romans 8:26 reads, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
What do you do when you’re at a loss for words in how to pray?
What if rehashing the words and worries just causes you more fear because you do not see a solution?
Pray in the Spirit.
You see, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a beautiful gift that is available to all Christians who pursue it. But it’s more than just a one-time experience. Our prayer language or the gift of speaking in tongues is a spiritual tool that we can use in prayer and spiritual warfare.
It is in those moments we can give voice to the expressions in our hearts that don’t seem to have words---the Holy Spirit is literally praying through us. Because His thoughts are so much bigger and better than our thoughts, He is able to pray for things that we can’t even yet imagine.
By combining these two things:
Focusing my thoughts on Thanksgiving while allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through me for the genuine needs using my prayer language, I was able to find peace and actually fall asleep.
Today I’m asking you: What are you worried about?
What’s keeping you up at night and filling your thoughts during the day?
As a friend, I’ll tell you that I completely understand. We all have things in our lives that cause us stress, heartache and fear.
How do we fight these feelings, turn it over to God, pray, and let things under His control (and get some sleep?)
May I suggest trying the spiritual tools of Thanksgiving and praying in the Spirit?
When fear knocks at your door meet it with these two allies.
If you have not yet been baptized in the Holy Spirit, begin pursuing it. Don’t live your life without this vital spiritual gift that will not only help you pray, but will also empower you to live the life and fulfill God’s call on your life. If you’d like to learn more about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, check out Tim Enlow’s book, Want More.
If you are already baptized in the Holy Spirit, don’t waste this gift by saving it up for church or thinking it’s a one-time experience. Instead, practice it. Use it. Incorporate it into you prayer life and allow the Holy Spirit to pray through you while you focus your attention on the greatness of God.
You see, just like “Thanksgiving” is more than a once a year experience, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is more than a once in a lifetime experience.
As we take these two tools off of their “special occasion” shelves and incorporate them into our everyday lives that we will experience their benefits.
Each and every day of our lives.