This article was written by Christie Thomas and was originally posted here.
8 prayers to help a child with anxiety, based on the Bible.
My cell phone chimed just as I sat down to drink my coffee. It was the school.
As soon as I picked up, my son’s complaint came through: “Mommy, I’m sick.”
The scent of coffee teased me as I closed my eyes and sighed. “What kind of sick?”
“My tummy hurts.”
The school receptionist came on the line. “Yeah,” she apologized, “there’s something going around. Lots of the kids have been hit with this one.”
I nodded, set the warm mug on the desk, and went to get my jacket. So much for my work morning. It was too early to tell, but I wondered if his stomachache had more to do with his thoughts than with germs.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CHILD HAS ANXIETY
Sure enough, he perked up soon after I picked him up. Occasionally he clutched at his stomach and moaned, but it seemed more like a child trying to get out of homework than a child with the stomach bug.
Throughout the day he continued to make a miraculous recovery. All because he was no longer in his stressful place: school.
It can be hard to tell if your child is experiencing anxiety, because fear and worry are a natural part of human life. But anxiety is different, and there are certain cues to look out for. The persistent stomachaches my son was experiencing were one indicator, as are headaches.
Here are a few other warning signs:
- Extreme emotions or tantrums
- Resisting going to school
- Being incredibly neat and tidy
- Difficulty being flexible
- Being upset over changes in routine
- Changes in sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty going to sleep
As you may have guessed, differentiating anxiety from normal child behaviors can be difficult. Some of these behaviors are simply due to your child’s temperament. The key is to look for changes in behavior.
Because even changes can be hard to notice, this is why, when my children are the most difficult, I take it to God in prayer.
WHY USE PRAYERS TO CALM ANXIETY?
Prayer helps in two ways:
1) When I pray for myself, I receive patience and wisdom to help parent my child.
My best parenting moments have come after stopping briefly to pray.
>Related Reading: How to Use This One Verse To Help Your Anxious Child
My worst parenting moments tend to be when I rush right in and try to fix everything in my own strength. Frankly, I’m a better mom when I acknowledge God’s presence in my home.
2) As I pray with my child, we invite God to work in his heart.
Prayer takes our thoughts off of ourselves and places them onto God. This gives him a chance to act, but it also takes our focus off ourselves and our issues.
Redirecting our thoughts is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety because it’s all about our thoughts. When we stop focusing on our worries, we will naturally become less anxious.
HOW TO PRAY
Sometimes I honestly don’t have a clue how to pray. This is when I find it easiest to pray words right from the Bible. Praying Bible verses may seem like cheating, but it can often be more powerful than using my fumbling words!
When I pray words out of the Bible, I tend to fall back on the familiar passages. There are a few that I’ve prayed over my boys nearly every night since birth, and those are my first go-to passages. But there are many other passages in the Bible that we can use.
To pray a Bible passage, simply read the words and re-word them for your situation. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to get you in trouble with the Bible Police (unless you try to publish your own translation)!
Let me give you an example, using a prayer that I’ve prayed frequently with my eldest.
THE “DO NOT WORRY” BIBLE VERSE
There is one specific verse that I have found especially powerful to pray. It’s one that I prayed every night over my eldest for several years.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8
“God, please help me not to be anxious about anything. Remind me that in each situation I can pray to you and share my requests with you. Help me to always give thanks as I share my needs. Thank you for the promise you made that your peace would guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. I claim that promise today. Please guard my heart and mind against anxiety. In the name of Jesus, amen.”
There is no right or wrong way to pray Scripture. This prayer is just an example of how we can modify the words to turn it into a plea for help. Simply let the words you read inspire your prayer. I’ll give a few more examples below.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
SAMPLE PRAYER: “Thank you God that you are with us wherever I go. Your presence gives me the confidence to be strong and courageous. Help me not to be worried or discouraged, but to remember that you are with me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
ORIGINAL VERSE: “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper.”
SAMPLE PRAYER: “Thank you God that you are with me. Help me not to be afraid. I know that my worries can’t hurt me because you are with me, and you are my helper. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
ORIGINAL VERSE: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
SAMPLE PRAYER: “God, today I will choose to trust you, because I know that you are with me. Please strengthen me and help me. Hold me in your righteous right hand when I can’t hold myself up. Help me not to be discouraged or dismayed. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
ORIGINAL VERSE: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
SAMPLE PRAYER: “Thank you God for being like a shepherd. Thank you for giving me everything I need. Please refresh my soul. I trust you to guide me along the right paths. Even when I am afraid and worried, I know that I don’t have to fear evil, because you are with me, comforting and protecting me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
ORIGINAL VERSE: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
SAMPLE PRAYER: “Thank you God that I can trust you to be my strength. Thank you for being with me, and helping me through this. I know that I can get through this, because you are the source of my strength. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-12
ORIGINAL VERSE: But he said to me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
SAMPLE PRAYER: “God, you are enough for me. Thank you that your power is made perfect in weakness,
because I am definitely weak.
May your power rest on me so that the world can see how mighty you are,
not how amazing I am. Help me through the things that are the hardest today. Help me not to be afraid of my weaknesses, because when I am weakest, you are able to do the best work. Strengthen me today. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
1 Peter 5:17
ORIGINAL VERSE: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
SAMPLE PRAYER: “God, thank you for caring for me. Today, I put these specific worries in your hands:
______. I give these to you right now and I choose to trust you to care for them, and for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
There are no easy solutions to anxiety. The world is filled with things to be anxious about, but this is nothing new. The writers of the Bible lived thousands of years ago, and they spoke about fear and anxiety as well!
But our God is bigger than fear and stronger than all the things that go wrong in our world. He has created our brains in such a way that focusing on him creates new, more peaceful, ways to live. Let’s invite him to do his work in our child’s minds today.
Over a hundred years ago, Helen Lemmel wrote these words, which are pertinent to both us and our children:
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.