Do you need to reduce stress and anxiety? And have you had your dose of tension today? Our society embraces stress, anxiety, and tension, yet health professionals say they are wreaking havoc on our minds and bodies.
You know what I’m talking about—the headaches, muscle tension, irritability, and high blood pressure are all symptoms that can escalate and kill you if you don’t deal with the stress in your life.
But there is good news.
According to Physician Dale Matthews (The Faith Factor), people who practice calming prayer are 40 percent less likely to suffer from hypertension than those who do not.
So what is calming prayer?
Quakers call it “centering prayer.” Others call it contemplative prayer or meditative prayer.
A. A. Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh, explained it like this:
Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
One of my favorite exercises of contemplative prayer is to imagine a river flowing slowly by as I place my concerns within its currents.
Releasing cares this way allows you to rest, focus on Jesus, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Once your mind is calm and centered on Jesus, negative life situations take on a lighter perspective—the One who holds the world in place is holding you.
In being still, you can know that he is God (Psalm 46:10).
Richard Foster describes this experience as:
Our spirit is on tiptoe—alert and listening. There is stillness to be sure, but it is a listening stillness. Something deep inside us has been awakened and brought to attention.
Steps to using calming prayer to reduce stress and anxiety:
- Find a quiet place to get alone with God.
- Practice placing your stress in an imaginary river, and let your concerns float away.
- Imagine the tension in your mind and body slipping away from you and into that river.
- Focus on Jesus and a Scripture promise he has given you.
- Expect God’s presence and peace to come and give you rest.
Now it’s your turn: What do you see as the advantages in using calming prayer in the stressful situations of life? Do you find this type of prayer difficult or easy? Why?
Susan Gaddis, Helping you build a spiritual legacy
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Other Holy in the Daily posts on calming prayer:
“Jesus likes it when we share.” -Adelaide, age 3: Pass this along to everybody and their brother. OK, maybe not everybody’s brother, but you know, all of your friends would be nice.