My husband and I love Amazon Prime. We’d rather push a button and wait for two days for something to arrive at our door than drive fifteen minutes to pick that something up from the store that day.
Once, he decided to get me an Instant Pot for my birthday. (For all of those who don’t know, Instant Pot = amazing.) We joked that we were being too lazy lately, and we decided to actually get up and go to an actual store to buy it. But after going to three stores that were all out of the size we wanted, we ended up typing it in “search” and hitting “buy now.” So much easier! And, voila, we had it in two days just by tapping a few keys on the keyboard. My prediction is that Amazon will one day rule the world and you’ll have me to thank for that.
Sometimes I catch myself imagining prayer to be something like Amazon Prime.
I like to sit in the chair beside our bookcase in our living room in the mornings with my one, two, three cups of coffee. I pull out my black and brown leather Bible and try to read a little bit, usually sticking to Romans 8, James, the Gospels, or the Psalms. If I venture outside those passages, I’ll probably be shutting the Bible after a few minutes, pretending I learned something but thinking, “What the hell did that mean?” (Does that make me a mediocre Christian? Oops.) Then, after some reading, I’ll pull out my computer and start into one of my prayer journals.
I like writing out my prayers. It makes it feel organic, real. It feels less like talking to a blank ceiling and more like writing an email to someone I know.
But maybe it’s because I’m typing that I sometimes feel like I’m entering a prayer into the Amazon “search.”
Search: Take away my anxiety. Buy Now.
Search: Please, please take away all this acne. Buy now.
Search: Make me trust you. Buy now.
It’s this weird expectation of searching for something and expecting it to show up at the proverbial door two days later. I forget that God doesn’t work for UPS.
A couple months ago, I was in a job that caused me a lot of anxiety. Why I was even in that job is another story, so suffice it to say that it wasn’t a good fit for me. Anyway, I’d wake up in the middle of the night in sweaty sheets, freaking out about the fact that I’d have to go to work in five hours. When I arrived at work, I couldn’t get my heart to stop beating too quickly—I felt short of breath and jumpy about everything I had to get done. I’d leave work and would feel tight and exhausted from being so on edge all day.
Anxiety is such a beast, isn’t it? It can demand so much attention and get in the way of living freely. I think taking medication helps*, but sometimes it just won’t stop rearing its ugly head. It can be so inconvenient.
I prayed and prayed that God would take the anxiety away, but it never left me. Buy now. Buy now. Buy now. Why didn’t the anxiety leave me?
I quit the job—for several different reasons, but the anxiety was a big part of it. Although I’m glad I did, the anxiety still didn’t go away. Instead, I just became anxious that I didn’t have a job. My mind simply found something else to be anxious about.
I became frustrated with God. If he’d just answered my prayer and taken my anxiety away like I ordered, I wouldn’t be in the spot I was in. A spot that was very uncomfortable. Why wasn’t he doing anything to help me exactly when I needed him to?
A few weeks after I quit, my mom invited me to go to her women’s Bible study. I got there, a little nervous for the “What do you do, Anna?” question (isn’t that the worst!?) and because I’m a little suspicious of Bible studies in general. When I arrived, I found out that they were going through Max Lucado’s Anxious for Nothing.
The title, of course, caught me. Anxious for nothing, huh? Hmm.
Before the leader took her spot in front of the crowd to begin her talk, we sang “Take Courage” (Bethel Music).
Slow down, take time
Breath in He said
He’d reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He’ll reveal all to come
Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing
A week later, I went to my friend Beth’s workshop.** The workshop was called “Brave to Surrender” and was all about trusting God with the unknowns. One of the activities she had us do was to draw a picture of how we currently viewed God. I’m not a good artist, but I let myself relax and get into the activity. Stick figures, of course.
Without thinking it through, I drew a picture of God as a UPS man. Afterwards, Beth asked us to take time to pray and then to draw a picture of how God wants us to seem him. I drew God holding me in the midst of my anxiety. In the picture, his arms surround me. The anxiety is still there, but he’s holding me.
After going to that Bible study, reading through Lucado’s book, buying that song and listening to over and over and over again, and drawing those pictures in that workshop, I heard God whispering: I am with you in this anxiety. He didn’t take it away when I wanted him to, but he was right beside me.
God did not answer my “buy now” prayer, but He answered my questions in a different way, in His timing. It was not the way I expected. It was not the timing I wanted. But He did answer my seeking.
I’m still anxious about a lot of things in my life (more on that later). But I want to learn how to pray differently in my journals, how to pray like I’m not looking for an Instant Pot on Amazon, even in the midst of my anxiety that hasn’t gone away.
*If you’re struggling with crippling anxiety, don’t stay silent! Reach out to a counselor or a psychiatrist. They are trained professionals who can help you feel like you again. The anxiety may not go away completely, but you don’t have to cope alone.
**Beth Schuette is a life coach. She’s an amazing friend and mentor. You or your group can host a workshop and start bravely fighting comparison, stress and/or fear!! Or you can even do a 1:1 intensive of one or all of them and really dig in yourself! She also does 1:1 life coaching virtually or in person, which, believe me, is worth your time. Check her out at https://www.bethschuette.com/