In the center of this post, we’ve included a prayer for fear and worry that you can pray daily to shift your focus away from worry and fear. We hope you will also read through the article as you begin to change the way you focus. Here’s what you’ll find:
- How Are Worry and Fear Related?
- Our Focus Matters
- Focus Can Find Beauty
- A Prayer for Fear and Worry
- How Does This Prayer for Fear and Worry Help Us?
- How Do I Shift My Focus Away From Fear?
How Are Worry and Fear Related?
Worry and fear are connected. Consider what you’re worried about; it’s probably related to something you’re afraid might happen in the future. Those fears might come from past experiences or an imagined future.
Worry and fear can feed each other. When we focus on our fears, worry increases. When our worry increases, our fear inflates and takes up more mental energy. It’s a painful cycle that can lead us to a place where it’s difficult to make healthy choices.
But there is a way to reduce our fear and worry so we can replace it with hope.
Our Focus Matters
Focus is a narrowing of view to the extent that other objects become blurry. When you focus on your fears, it can be hard to see anything else. But focus can also help us overcome a cycle of fear and worry.
Focus is not the absence of options. It is the choice to see one option more clearly than others. Focusing on something good and true can lift our minds out of constant stress, negativity, and doubt. But this doesn’t mean you’re ignoring your fears. Instead, focusing on the right things can displace your worry and remove its place of authority in your brain.
Focus Can Find Beauty
Maybe you feel like there’s nothing good or positive to focus on to displace your fear and worry. If so, I want to encourage you to spend some time reflecting on your life.
Consider a field of flowers. If you’re taking in the view of every flower and blade of grass at the same time, your eye doesn’t see the beauty of any individual petal or stalk. But if you focus on one flower, you might notice something unique, surprising, and beautiful that you’d never notice without focus.
Or think of a piece of dirt. It looks like nothing until you focus on it with a microscope and see the teeming bacteria, fungi, and micro-organisms crawling through it. Likewise, when you choose to focus on anything, you will notice the life inside of it. If you focus long enough, you will notice the quality of that life.
So choose a new focus. Don’t ignore your fears, but learn to discipline your mind to focus on other things. And with your new focus, look for life and beauty. And if you can’t see it at first, zoom in until you find it.
Focus allows you to be present to something or someone in particular. Paying attention costs you something. To pay attention to one of the flowers in the field, I have to give up having a clear view of the flowers around it. If I want to pay attention to Jesus in prayer, I must choose to allow Him to displace my worry.
A Prayer for Fear and Worry
Jesus gave us a daily prayer that can shift our focus away from fear and worry, recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 MSG:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
How Does This Prayer for Fear and Worry Help Us?
As you can tell from His model prayer above, Jesus seems interested in helping us refine and focus. Try reading the rest of Matthew 6. Here are just a few ways Jesus redirects our focus in this chapter.
- From the approval of others—to being known by God.
- From giving to get attention—to giving without even noticing ourselves.
- From praying to be seen—to praying in secret with God.
- From fasting to be seen by people—to fasting in front of the God who sees.
- From building up wealth for yourself—to spending your life on what lasts forever.
- From worrying about what you have—to trusting God, who has you.
- From focusing on tomorrow—to living God’s way today.
Try choosing one item to meditate on this week. Consider how it affects your small daily decisions. This will allow the truth of Jesus to change you from the inside. How? By displacing fear with truth.
How Do I Shift My Focus Away From Fear?
Paul was a leader in the early church. But before following Jesus, he hated Christians. Paul feared the church’s growth and felt it threatened his faith. His focus led him to use violence to silence followers of Jesus.
Then, Paul had a spiritual encounter with Jesus that completely changed his focus. As a result, Paul became one of the greatest champions of the early church.
Paul wrote letters to churches that we get to read in the Bible. In them, he invites followers of Jesus to embrace the same love that changed him. In one letter, he wrote about how knowing Jesus has this uncanny way of changing our focus.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7 MSG
It’s wonderful what happens when Jesus displaces worry at the center of your life. You stop focusing on fear, which reduces worry. It’s not living in denial; it’s living with trust that God’s love and provision is greater than our fears and anxieties.
Paul invites us to live this way–to pray, asking God to replace our fear and worry with trust. Living this way makes it easier to be present to the people in front of you. You allow love to replace fear as the motivation for how you live in your community. Suddenly, people you don’t understand are no longer a threat but a person to be loved.
Is focus a good thing? That depends on where it’s placed. Fixing your focus on Jesus can completely change the way you live. If you need a place to start, consider Matthew 6. Then, focus on one way Jesus can displace worry in your life.
For more on finding freedom from fear, check out this article: