From Worrier to Warrior in Three Steps

by: Jaime Hampton

by: Jaime Hampton

Do you worry about your children? I used to tease my mom for being a “worry-wart” because she would fret and fuss and get herself all up in a tizzy for the smallest of things, particularly when they involved me - an only child. Boy, did that come back to bite me! Being a mom of three, I have the potential to be three times the worrier she ever was - and have been. In fact, I have spiraled into full-blown panic attacks at times, something I don’t think she ever dealt with. Sometimes I desperately wish she were still alive so I could apologize for being so insensitive, to let her know I “get it” and to tell her what an amazing mom she was to have kept it together for all of those years!

Shortly after she died, I came across a journal she had been keeping that included prayers for me during a particularly turbulent time in my life (the teenage years…need I say more?). Her journaling style wasn’t like mine, long-winded and wordy. She was concise, and to the point. But it was obvious she had poured the anxiety from her heart into God’s hands by writing them down on that page. I’m sure if I’d looked more closely, I might have seen some tear stains on the pages. And now, I can totally relate.

So back to you. Are you a “worry-wart” like me and like my mom? When your child has an issue, do you project all the worst-case scenarios this problem could cause him in the future? Do you become aware of a key life skill or habit you’ve neglected in her life and become convinced you’ve ruined her? Do you compare your children to others and fear they’re not measuring up, or that you’re inadequate as a parent?

Join the club.

But I’m not here to gather company so we can all wallow in our misery together. I’m here so together, with God’s help, we can move out of the muck and mire of being worriers onto the solid ground of being warriors.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” ~ Psalm 40:2 (NIV)

I’m going to break it down into three easy steps we can all take each and every time we feel worry begin to gain a foothold in our lives, particularly in the area of our children:

1. Name the Worry

To keep worry vague or hidden, or to put on a mask so you look like you “have it all together” (which is in quotes because there’s no such thing) fuels worry. It gives Satan an opportunity to work in the dark, which is what he loves best.

If you’re concerned for your child, you need to think through, and ideally write down the nature of the worry. But don’t stop at “I’m worried because my son is failing math.” Dig deeper. Ask yourself:

What is the root of that worry, and what are the branches that spring out of it?

Are you afraid your son has an undiagnosed learning disability? Do you feel guilty for not helping him more with homework, or because you’ve over-scheduled him with extracurricular activities? Is this a sudden development that you’re afraid might signal emotional or mental health issues? Are you afraid that now your dreams for him following in your footsteps of being a math major in college, or his chances of maintaining participation in his favorite sport are shot? Because the root of your worry, and the worries that branch off from the worry can help you clarify the problems and open your mind to potential solutions, paving the way for the next steps to be even more effective and targeted.

2. Give the Worry to God

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

I actually tried to find a different Bible passage to use here because I feel like this one is used so often…but it’s so good. So perfect for the occasion. Step 2 in the process of moving from worrier to warrior is to give the worry to God. All of it. Your root worry, the branches of worry that spring off of it, and everything in between.

I think the best way to do this is on paper, but maybe you want to speak it out loud, or simply think it. You might even want to do something symbolic like write it on paper and tear it up or burn it after you pray it over to God. But however you do it, there is power in acknowledging God as the bearer of our burdens - and taking him up on the offer!

Another thing this passage mentions is thanksgiving. I think this is another important part of the prayer process. We need to place the worry in God’s hands, and give him thanks for who he is, and his care and involvement in the lives of our children. If you’re brave, you can even thank him for whatever situation you’ve been worrying about, welcoming God’s mighty hand to bring about good in the life of your child and others through it, even if the situation itself seems “bad”. God is out for the ultimate good of our children, and promises to work in all things to that end.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28 (NIV)

3. Be the Warrior

You’re already a warrior, whether you acknowledge it or not. This is where you walk in it.

As a parent, grandparent or caregiver, you’ve been given the authority to intercede with power and authority on behalf of your child. When you pray, unspeakable power is unleashed in the heavenlies and reality is affected, whether you perceive it or not.

Take the worries you’ve given over to God and spin them into positive statements, prayers, and verses to pray over your child. If we take the math example, you can pray that God would give your child a clear mind. That he would grow the fruit of patience and the character trait of perseverance through trial in him to allow him to succeed at math. That God would give you wisdom to know what steps to take to help your child, whether it be a tutor, personal help, evaluations, etc.

You can pray with your child as well, maybe together you can choose a verse to print out and place in his math binder, or to pray before school or homework each day, like Colossians 3:23:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters ~ Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

Some battles for our children are private, not to be shared with our kids. But they can still know you’re praying for them in a general sense, and saying a prayer or blessing over them each morning or before they go to bed can be a powerful way of wielding the weapon of prayer in a way they can see.

I don’t know about you, but I’m fired up and ready to trade in my “worrier” status for WARRIOR status! If you haven’t already, we would love for you to join the Praying Christian Women Community on Facebook, where we’ve begun “30 Days of Prayer for Your Children,” a free video series where we pray together for our children every single day for 30 days! All you have to do is sign up for our private Facebook group and we will get you approved ASAP!

What about you? Do you have your own tried and true methods of moving from worrier to warrior? We’d love to know in the comments!

Prayer-Jitsu 101: How distractions can actually fuel your prayer life (Praying Christian Women Podcast #040)

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by: Jaime Hampton

You sit down to pray. You close your eyes to all distractions, and begin to speak to God. You start pouring your heart out to him and then…

you remember you forgot to get milk at the grocery store earlier that day.

You begin again. You’re on a roll now, praying for your pastor’s recent health concerns…

when a picture of the unpaid electric bill you’ve been meaning to take care of flashes through your mind.

Does any of this sound familiar? Maybe not the exact details, but do you ever find when you’re trying your best to clear your mind and focus on God, the distractions come flooding in one by one, like little relentless attackers?

If so, we have good news: it’s actually okay for your mind to wander when you pray. It’s perfectly normal, and you are not a failure at prayer if you are easily distracted. Let’s say it again, because you really need to know this:

You are not a failure at prayer if you are easily distracted!

This is so important, because the feeling that you’re a prayer-failure is one of the biggest blocks to becoming the prayer warrior God is calling you to be! Satan would love for you to begin to pray, encounter distractions, and give up.

But did you know that you can actually use distractions to your advantage?

I like to think of it as “prayer jiu-jitsu” (“prayer-jitsu”?). Jiu-jitsu is a Japanese martial art in which you deflect the attack of your opponent by using their momentum against them. If we think of distractions as our opponent in “prayer-jitsu” we can create a strategy to actually use the momentum of our distractions to fuel our prayers. Alana has a prayer journaling technique that works like a charm, and I wanted to share it with you today. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Anticipate the Attack (Expect the Distractions)

Let’s face it, we live in a fast-paced world. Words and images flash past our screens more quickly than our poor brains were probably designed to handle. We have been trained to multi-task as a way of life. Is there any question why it’s so hard to quiet our minds to connect with God, or to create white space for meditation and reflection?

So stop expecting that sitting still is going to come easily right away…because it’s not.

Expect the distractions to come…because they will.

Anticipate the attack.

Step 2: Engage the Attacker (Embrace the Distractions)

So now you know the attack is coming. What are you going to do about it? In prayer-jitsu, you’re not going to fight the distractions head-on. You’re going to embrace them as they come at you! Just as in jiu-jitsu you engage the attacker, using his momentum to your benefit, you’re going to embrace your distractions…by writing them down, then continuing to pray. You’ll need to be armed with a journal or even just a scrap piece of paper and a pen, and when you think about the milk you forgot at the store…

Write it down.

As the picture of the unpaid bill flashes through your mind…

Write it down.

The mere act of writing your distractions on paper captures them, robbing them of any power they might have over the rest of your prayer time. They’re captives on your list, to be dealt with only when you decide to deal with them - on your terms.

Step 3: Leverage the Attacker’s Energy (Utilize the Distractions)

Since we’re practicing prayer-jitsu, we’re not going to be content with simply taking our attacker captive. We want to use his momentum to our benefit. This is where we use the distractions to actually fuel our prayers.

Here’s how it might look:

You’re praising God and remember the forgotten milk. You jot a note down so you remember to put milk on your grocery list for next time, and shift into praising God for providing the means to buy groceries for your family. This might remind you of the homeless shelter you volunteered at, and the woman with three young children who was interviewing for a job the following week. You go with it, and pray for God’s provision and for the interview to go well.

You move on to praying for your pastor’s health, and get distracted when you realize you haven’t paid the electric bill. You write down a reminder to remember to pay it later, and then shift into asking God to provide for the physical and financial needs of your pastor and his family, like utilities and housing.

By doing this, not only are all of your distractions dealt with immediately, but they are actually fuel for your prayers! And an added bonus is that it actually trains your mind to shift your thinking to prayer in many different, seemingly non-spiritual circumstances.

So what do you think, would Alana’s prayer-jitsu help you leverage distractions to fuel your prayer life? Try it, and let us know!

If you want to hear this week’s full “Coffee Break” episode where Alana and I talk more in-depth about what to do when you keep getting distracted while praying, you can listen on Libsyn, iTunes or Stitcher now. We can’t wait to see you there!

Five Healthy Prayer Goals That Won't Lead to Legalism (Praying Christian Women Podcast Episode #039)

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by: Jaime Hampton

I have to confess, I’m not naturally wired to be a goal-setter. Most of the time, I fly by the seat of my pants and tend to live inside my own head. My podcast co-host Alana, on the other hand, is a goal-setting champ! As I’ve seen her goal-setting lead to incredible productivity and efficiency, it has inspired me to set more goals of my own in my home and work life.

But does goal-setting have a place in our prayer lives, or does that just lead to legalism?

Alana and I definitely believe that there is such a thing as unhealthy goal-setting: the kind that elevates your goals over your relationship with God. This kind of goal-setting serves to puff up, to make you feel super-spiritual and focus on numbers instead of striving toward intimacy with God and targeted prayers that unleash kingdom power!

So are there healthy goals for your prayer life that won’t lead to legalism? We think there are, and wanted to share five of them with you today!

  1. Pray regularly for one unsaved friend

    It could be daily, weekly or whatever time frame works in your life. But asking God to bring one person to mind who doesn’t know him, and then praying regularly and faithfully for that person is a really great prayer goal to start with! As you go on, you might want to add a couple more to your list as you feel led, but make sure you don’t let things get out of hand, or you might be in danger of becoming overwhelmed.

    Tip: Use a digital or physical prayer reminder to make it even easier to remember to pray for your unsaved friend or family member. You can program it into your phone, or put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or on the dash of your car. Be creative!

  2. Writing daily in a gratitude journal

    You can’t go wrong by setting the goal to be more thankful! By writing daily in a gratitude journal, you’ll not only succeed in deepening your prayer life, but you will probably find that your entire outlook is transformed. So whether you begin your day writing all the things you’re thankful for to start the day with the right attitude, or end your day by reflecting on your blessings, this is absolutely a healthy prayer goal that will bless you and bring glory to God.

    Tip: If you find it hard to get started, use the alphabet to name things you’re thankful for from A to Z.

  3. Making confession a regular part of your prayer time

    Confession can seem like a negative, or even scary concept. The idea of airing your dirty laundry to God (let alone anyone else!) can feel intimidating. But confession is such an important part of our prayer lives:

    Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. - James 5:16 (NIV)

    Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. - Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

    If you haven’t already, set a goal to incorporate some form of confession into your prayer life, whether it’s taking time to sit prayerfully and write down confessions to God on a regular basis (the frequency is up to you), or to take it a step further and grab a trusted friend to be a prayer partner and incorporate confession to each other (see James 5:16 above!) into your prayer life.

    Tip: If you need a visual exercise to shift confession from being a negative to a positive experience, think of each sin as a brick, and your collective sins adding up like a brick wall standing between you and a more intimate relationship with God. As you write your confessions down and pray them to God and repent, imagine the bricks being smashed one by one until the wall is gone.

  4. Praying out loud more during corporate prayer…or not as much!

    So maybe you’re the kind of person who would love to blend in with the drapes during a prayer meeting. Setting a prayer goal to pray more out loud during corporate prayer would definitely stretch you and allow you to grow in that area. As always, the specific goal is individual; don’t just decide to “pray out loud more” - set a specific goal like “I will pray out loud once a week in my women’s Bible study,” or “…once a month during our church business meeting.”

    But what if you’re like me, and you can be a little long-winded in prayer meetings? I wouldn’t necessarily use the term “prayer hog,” but I can get a little carried away…so I have sometimes set a goal for myself to listen more, pray out loud less. Or at least leave time for others to jump in before I start!

    Any prayer goal that stretches you is healthy, especially when your focus is on glorifying God and building up the body of Christ!

    Tip: If you’re terrified of praying out loud in front of a group, start small! Begin praying out loud in the car or in the shower. Then step it up and pray with small children, or even over the phone with a friend, or in your home with members of your family. These can all be mini-goals that can move you forward toward the bigger goal of praying out loud in public.

  5. Joining a prayer group with other women

    This goal is so easy - it’s the goal that keeps on giving! Joining a prayer group can do so much to deepen relationships with other praying women, enhance your own prayer life, and glorify God. Of course no prayer group is perfect, but when you approach your prayer group with the right motives (to grow, to lift others up in prayer, and to fellowship with other praying Christian women), you are setting yourself up for success.

    Tip: If you can’t find a prayer group to join, start your own! (maybe that’s another blog post for another day…)

To listen in on our discussion about prayer goals, join us for episode 039 of the Praying Christian Women podcast…we can’t wait to see you there!