Thursday, June 16, 2016

Are You Running on Empty? Three Solutions for Stress

Rain splashes on the windshield as I drive home in a downpour. The gas gauge reads empty. My spiritual gauge also sits on empty. With fifteen more miles to go, I worry and stew, but keep going. Suddenly I remember, I ran out of gas in my teens and my Dad rescued me. “Lord, help me,” I whisper.
Lord, help me. What should I do?” Then I remember—cars today are different; they have a reserve tank good for twenty-five or thirty miles. My fear vanishes. “Thank you, Lord! “ Another thought comes! I’m a new model, also—a new creation; I have a reserve spiritual tank, a connection to God. He fills and refreshes me when my spirit sags.

As people of faith do you ever feel you’re running on empty? Do you ever feel overwhelmed or stressed? We all do at times. Life is busy, life is stressful, life distracts us from the most important things. We must remind ourselves of the solutions to our stress/emptiness/frustration and _____­­­­­­­­­­­­­ (you name it) problem. How do we fill our spiritual tank when it’s nearly empty? There are three solutions. Three words.

Prayer. Scripture. Worship. These are essential in the life of a Christian, in the life of a new creation in Christ. These three things will help us cope with most anything. These connect us with God. All three of these must be priorities and are intertwined with our corporate worship. Prayer, Scripture and Worship will fill our emptiness and recharge our spirits.

Worship as a body of believers is essential to our individual growth in Christ and to our unity as a church. Just showing up isn’t enough. As people of faith we influence our children, our relatives and our friends. We must lead the way in prioritizing corporate worship and in learning how to truly “be there” during it. There are several steps essential to grow us in Christ and to deepen our worship (and end our stress!).

Prepare for worship all week long. The pastor, choir and leaders prepare for worship and we must also. Prepare by praying for the pastor, choir, musicians, teachers and leaders throughout the week. Pray about your stress, frustration and worry also. Jesus’ prayer life shows his dependence on God. “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (emphasis added - Luke 5:15). If He needed to pray, certainly we do. When we pray we admit our powerlessness, humbling ourselves before God. We place our faith in him. We confess our sins daily. “Forgive us this day our sinful self-focus.” Prayers of confession and repentance free us.           

Paul tells us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This is a challenge! If we pray when we first wake up, pray before each meal and pray at bedtime we can come closer to fulfilling Paul’s admonition to pray continually. Prayer changes us, grows us. A daily time of prayer is essential to our Christian walk. God is with us. When we ignore him it’s similar to ignoring a good friend who is right in the room with us. God wants a close relationship – comparable to marriage. Would you think it was sufficient to talk to your husband only once a week?

Similarly we must read his Word on a daily basis. Read and meditate on His Word. Read a chapter a day at least. Plan when you will do this. Reading it together as a family will feed everyone. So try it at a meal. We recently started one chapter from Scripture at dinner every day.

Spend ten minutes a day in silence before God. Prayerful silence helps us let go of the distractions of life. Quiet your mind and turn your thoughts to God. Those who wait on the lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).

Adoration and praise are great stress relievers. Shoot prayers of praise and admiration daily throughout the day. Teach your children to do this also. Sing praises to his name! We often sing the Doxology at meals. Try it - it will lift your spirits.

When we do the above things daily we will come to church prepared to worship the Lord.  We are active worshipers, not passive ones. Then we will sing praises to his name. We will “give thanks to the lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes sing his praises. Tell everyone about his miracles. Exult in his holy name; O worshipers of the lord rejoice!” Psalm 105:1-3

When we truly worship Him on Sunday we prepare our hearts and minds for our daily stresses ahead. And we meet them with Prayer, Scripture and Worship. Keep the circle going!

Blessings, Dottie

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