In his book, Dangerous Prayers, Craig Groeschel challenges us to pray boldly and stop playing it safe with our faith. As you ask God to search you and reveal things, you can find freedom from fear. Check out this excerpt from Dangerous Prayers to find out how.
What is it that makes you anxious? Nervous? Unsettled? Afraid?
I’m not talking about normal external fears like snakes, spiders, or the fear of flying. I’m wondering what keeps you up at night, those things that ricochet in your mind and refuse to be quieted. Things like losing your job. Not getting married. Or being stuck in a bad marriage. Having your health fail. Draining your savings account just to get by.
We don’t know what exact fears were running through David’s mind, but it’s clear he was troubled about his safety and perhaps his future. Because after asking God to search his heart, David prayed, “know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23). He wanted to share his worst fears with God. To face them and give them a name. To trust that God was bigger than any fear David could dream up.
Are you willing to pray such a prayer? “Lord, reveal what holds my mind hostage. Show me what I fear the most. Go ahead, help me face what terrifies me.”
You might wonder why our “anxious thoughts” matter to God. It’s not necessarily about our comfort and experiencing a stress-free life. But the answer to this question is perhaps much more important than most of us would understand on the surface.
What we fear matters.
Years ago, I had a revelation about this subject that touched me in a very personal way. God showed me that what I feared the most revealed where I trusted God the least. After the birth of our third daughter, Anna, Amy started having physical challenges. At first, we thought it was just fatigue, but when half her body went numb, we feared it was something much worse.
Doctor after doctor couldn’t provide answers. As her symptoms continued to worsen, my trust in God started to weaken.
This fear led to others, and at night my thoughts snowballed out of control. What if Amy is dangerously sick? What if I lose her? I won’t be able to raise our kids without her. I wouldn’t be able to continue to lead the church. I wouldn’t want to go on. Then it hit me. The things that kept me awake at night were the things that I wasn’t trusting God to handle. I was holding onto them, ruminating over them, trying to find a way to gain control over them, to solve all my problems, to plan for every contingency. Thankfully, by the grace of God, Amy gradually improved back to full strength, but her challenges exposed one of my worst weaknesses. Fear had consumed me.
You can find freedom from fear.
What about you? What are the areas that you’re clinging to even while allowing them to terrify you? What fears are you withholding from God?
Think about it. If you’re gripped with fear about the future of your marriage, this is an indication that you don’t completely trust God with your marriage. If you’re overwhelmed with worry about how you will pay your bills, this reveals that you may not be trusting God to be your provider. If you’re paralyzed with worry about the safety of your children, could it be that you aren’t trusting God to keep them safe?
From my experience praying this prayer, God has often revealed my anxious thoughts and the fears fueling them. One of the first fears he revealed has also proven to be one of the most persistent. I’m terrified of failing. It started as a child playing baseball and feeling scared to death I’d strike out in front of my once professional-baseball-playing dad. As an adult, I’m afraid of striking out on my next sermon, my next project, or my responsibility to be a good dad. I’m scared to death to let people down, of not being enough, of not doing what needs to be done. I always feel inadequate.
I can still feel fear, but it doesn’t control me.
In fact, as I was typing the words you’re hearing now, I was worrying about my daughter’s health. Mandy’s 23, married, and as gifted as anyone I know. Yet for almost three years now, she’s been unable to function like a normal person. We’ve prayed more prayers than we could count. We’ve seen doctors across the nation. We’ve tried the most specific diets you could imagine. We’ve tried natural approaches and even some things that would make some people think we are crazy. Not only am I a Christian, I’m a pastor. I know I’m not supposed to worry. But when it’s your own child, it’s hard not to let your mind race in the wrong direction.
With all my heart, I know the power of praying dangerous prayers. And I’m continually sick of my safe prayers. I can’t stand another day of my self-centered Christianity. So this message burns within me. But I’m worried that I won’t be able to get the idea from my heart into this book. What if my writing isn’t powerful enough? Isn’t convincing? Isn’t convicting? Doesn’t move your heart?
Our fears matter. Because ultimately, our fears show how we’re relying on our own efforts and not trusting in our Savior. The truth is we—you and I and everyone—are always inadequate. We’re never enough. We’re always weak. But here’s the incredible thing: when we’re weak, God’s power is made perfect (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Your greatest fear may point you to your best chance at making a difference in the world. You need God for every moment of every day. Everything you do of value is born out of his heart, his power, his grace.
Faith gives us freedom from fear.
To please God, to serve him, to honor him, to live for him, you cannot be driven by fear. You must be led by faith. I’ve often said, the pathway to your greatest potential is often straight through your greatest fear. Faith will propel you forward. In fact, what God wants for you may be on the other side of what you fear the most. The apostle Paul encouraged his protégé Timothy to cling to faith by reminding him, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT).
Through the centuries, many Christians have believed that God’s enemy, the devil, attempts to influence believers with lies. If you’re afraid of failing, it could be that your spiritual enemy is trying to talk you out of doing what God has created you to do. So pray and step into your fear. Let God propel you forward by faith. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Remind yourself that you love pleasing God more than you fear failing.
You can trust God.
As you pray this dangerous prayer and he reveals what is keeping you from fully following him, don’t miss out on experiencing his love. Soak in his extravagant grace. Enjoy the unconditional goodness of God poured out for you in the life of Christ. Remember, “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
As God reveals your fears, he will also build your faith. You need him. You need his presence. You need his power. You need his Spirit guiding you. You need his Word strengthening you. Faith doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Faith means you don’t let fear stop you.
What you fear the most shows you where you need to grow with God. What do you fear? What are your anxious thoughts?
What is God showing you?
Where do you need to grow in faith? Trust him.