My next word of caution as we hash out the topic of fear versus fearlessness is about prayer—and it’s probably not what you think…
Let’s assume you’ve made up your mind to “Fear not,” just like Jesus said. If you’ve read the last couple of posts, you now understand that, as soon as you have that “oh-crap-I’m-gonna-hyperventilate” feeling, Rule Number One is to stop giving your attention to the fear and give it instead to what’s right in front of you.
Rule Number Two is to refrain from praying about what’s bothering you.
At the risk of sounding like a heathen, I’m going to say it again: now is not the time to pray—because right now, you’re disciplining your mind to turn away from fear and think wholesome thoughts. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying: prayer is crucial to life. We’ll shrivel up and die without it. But sometimes, the fearful person will use prayer time to hash out (and then rehash and rehash) his or her fears. Sometimes, what a fearful person calls “prayer” looks a lot like freaking out and dwelling on the issue. In other words, trading thoughts that sound like this: “What am I gonna do, I don’t know what to do!” for prayers that sound like this: “Lord, what am I gonna do, I don’t know what to do!” does not equal progress. So, for now, when you’re tempted to worry and fret, don’t spiritualize the situation by disguising your meltdown as prayer. Stick to the plan. Take your thoughts captive. You’ll discover that, as you learn to live apart from fear, your prayer life will start sounding a lot more like a peaceful conversation with God rather than a mental breakdown.
Stop begging God to make you courageous and simply embrace courage. Lay claim to it—it’s yours because Jesus paid the price. Don’t worry if you don’t feel courageous—that’ll happen sooner or later. This isn’t about emotions, it’s about stepping across the border between “Afraid” and “Fearless” because fearlessness is your birthright as a child of God.
(I do not like bears. At all. So to me, this is what courage looks like.)