Part Four- Reconnect: Strengthen Our Relationships With God + Others
Having a stronger relationship with God through prayer and having deeper relationships with others is the fourth way that we can lessen our anxiety. We’re going to look at our relationships with other people first. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says:
9Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
When we have fallen down, good friends help pick us back up. How do you spot a good friend, or a “safe” person to confide in? Good friends encourage us, listen to us, and love us. They keep the things we share in confidence and do not use them against us or judge us for them.
So many times we interact with good friends on the surface level, whether through social media, text messages, or light conversations. This isn’t wrong, but we need deeper connections with our friends. Sometimes we have to push past the fear of being vulnerable and share what’s going on in our lives. Confide in a good friend about your struggles and ask for their prayers and perspective; listen + pray for them in return. Be intentional about reaching out and saying, “Hey, can we meet for coffee?” Or, “are you free to talk on Monday?” If we don’t schedule times to connect with others in advance, they probably won’t happen. Schedules fill up and people are busy!
There is also no shame in talking to a trained counselor about your worries. You can do this in person or through online counseling. If you are concerned about the cost, counselors often offer reduced rates based on your income, or can refer you to someone who does.
Life can be challenging. Verse 9 above reminds us that we do better when we are together. Jesus sent His disciples out to minister in pairs (Mark 6:7). God said it was not good for man to be alone, and He created Eve (Genesis 2:18). We need each other for support and encouragement.
Who is one safe friend you can confide in? How can you reach out to others more and connect with them on a deeper level? How do you feel about speaking to a counselor? Why?
(Pause here and come back later if you need to.)
The second type of relationship that we’re going to look at is the one we have with God. Prayer strengthens our relationship with God and can lessen our anxiety. We can’t have a strong relationship with God without prayer, much like an earthly relationship between two people would suffer and feel distant if they rarely talked with one another. When we are anxious, prayer is an especially important way to give our worries to God.
Phillippians 4:6-7 says:
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We looked at the “being thankful” portion of verse 6 in Part Three. Today let’s look at the prayer aspect of it. Paul says to pray instead of being anxious. To pray in every situation. “Every” means not just in the “big” situations, but the smaller ones as well. Sometimes we think, “I shouldn’t ‘bother’ God with this small request or worry; He has bigger things to handle.” But all things are the same size to an all powerful, sovereign God. Nothing is too large or small a request for Him.
What is one request that you need to bring before God today? Write about it here:
The peace of God follows our prayers and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (verse 7 above). What a wonderful promise this is! But do you worry that you don’t know how to pray “correctly”? Your prayers don’t have to be excessively wordy, long, eloquent, or follow a formula. Sometimes we don’t know what or how to pray. But God, in His goodness, is always looking out for us. How? The Bible says that both Jesus and the Holy Spirit intercede for us. “To intercede” is defined as to “intervene on behalf of another.” Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit are going before God the Father for us. Little ‘ole you and me. If that doesn’t lessen our anxiety, I don’t know what else will!
Paul writes in Romans 8:34:
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Before Jesus came to earth, the Israelites needed a “high priest,” someone to intercede for them. What did this type of priest do? Hebrews 5:1-3 says:
1 Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.
Note that in Hebrews 5:2-3 above we read that earthly high priests had weaknesses and sins. But Jesus is sinless. He is the only perfect and greatest high priest; He is the only high priest that we need now, offering the ultimate sacrifice, His own body, for our sins:
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16
We don’t need to approach God timidly with unhealthy fear and worry, wondering what He will do to us. While we should always be humble, we can approach Him with confidence when we pray about our worries, because Jesus, the great High Priest, is already inteceding for us on our behalf.
Does knowing that Jesus intercedes for you change how you feel? How does it affect your anxiety?
(Pause here if needed!)
And what does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit as our intercessor? Romans 8:26-27 says:
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
“The Spirit intercedes for God’s people.” We can rest in the assurance that even when we don’t know what to pray for, there is still intercession on our behalf. Doesn’t that put your mind at ease, even just a little bit? When I imagine this happening, it fills me with awe.
What is on your mind after reading Part Four? What questions do you have that you may need to research?
Closing thoughts as you finish Part Four:
Today, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone and share how you are feeling with them. If you feel prompted to talk to a counselor, follow through with it. Don’t be afraid to approach God with all your prayer requests, no matter how small they may be. Rest in the promise that Jesus and the Holy Spirit intercede on your behalf.
Verses to pin:
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All verses taken from the New International Version of the Bible (NIV), accessed from http://www.biblegateway.com
Definition of “intercede” from Google dictionary.