Is stress holding you hostage and keeping you from rest? Do you feel burdens pressing in that seem too heavy to bear? When anxious thoughts pull you in the wrong direction, and you’re struggling to find balance, the following prayer might express your thoughts and help you find relief and freedom.
Before praying, consider these 4 steps for praying over anxiety, as suggested by well-known author and speaker Max Lucado:
- Pray immediately.
“Don’t stew over the problems that are besetting you or your neighbor. Ask God for help as soon as you identify a need.”
- Pray specifically.
“When we boil our concerns down to a specific request, they become right-sized. Vague threats loom larger than concrete challenges.”
- Pray for and with others.
“When we consider the problems of others and enlist their help with ours, our concerns become more manageable.”
- Pray with thanksgiving.
“Anxiety and gratitude cannot occupy the same space. When we catalog what are thankful for, our list of challenges grows less powerful.”
- 1 A Prayer for Relief of Stress and Anxiety
- 2 A Short Prayer for An Anxious Heart
- 3 Step 2: Talk to God using our college stress prayer to get clarity.
- 4 College Stress Prayer
- 5 Step 3: Pray about where to get good help when you need it.
- 6 Step 4: Ask God for guidance on how to lessen the stress of relationships.
- 7 Step 5: Look for healthy ways to handle stress.
- 8 Step 6: Claim the following Bible verses:
- 9 Links to other helpful articles:
- 10 20 Bible Verses about Stress
- 11 What Does the Bible teach us about Stress?
- 12 Add a Bible Verse or Comment
- 13 Using Faith to Reduce Stress
- 14 The Importance of Prayer
- 15 Scientific Evidence That Faith Improves Mental Health
- 16 What Does The Bible Teach Us About Stress?
- 17 Some Prayers To Help With Stress
- 18 Resources & Further Reading
A Prayer for Relief of Stress and Anxiety
Lord Jesus, the stresses in my life often reach a dangerous proportion—or so it seems. My body, mind, and spirit struggle to keep up physically, mentally, and yes, spiritually. Some days anxiety stalks me like a deceitful predator, and the temptation to worry draws me in. I know better, but some days the challenges outweigh the truths buried inside. My trust in You fades into the background, giving fear and concerns permission to discourage me.
In those moments of apprehension, help me remember that I belong to You, and that You are not the author of fear or anxiety, but the giver of love and a sound mind. Teach me Your ways to respond to problems by giving thanks in them. Your Word assures me that You are always there with me. You are the Blessed Controller of all things, and nothing escapes Your attention in my life. You have given me every tool and spiritual blessing to fight against those things that try to steal my peace. You’ve promised that when I’m stressed and burdens are trying to weigh me down, I can come to You. You will give me sweet rest!
Whether the anxiety stems from work, parenting, finances, physical issues, or even world conditions, You are there, Lord, to shoulder the weight. Teach me to recognize the stressful trials as tools for you to shape me and rearrange me. Through those difficult times, You will teach me patience, enlarge my faith, and help me see things I couldn’t see earlier—if I will only let You. When I’m clueless as to what to do, Lord, I want to turn to you first, not last.
Forgive me for trying to handle things on my own, Lord. The need to be in control sometimes gets a stronghold on my life. That only makes things worse. I want to trust You more and see things from Your perspective, not my own. No one makes me feel uptight, angry, or stressed, and no one forces me to react negatively. I choose to respond according to my beliefs. Do I believe You are in control? Do I believe You created all things and hold all things in Your Hand? Do I believe You are truly good? When an anxious thought creeps in, help me to stop and relax, to take that thought captive, and to turn apprehension into a calm prayer for deliverance. Revamp my belief system, Lord. Show me a new way to handle life according to Your Way.
No matter what issues I am dealing with; no matter how big the problems or situations, I’m laying them all at Your feet today. Turn these potentials for stress into lessons for growth and trust. When I can’t see any possible solutions, I choose to believe that You are working things out for my good—in Your own time, as you have in the past. Show me what to do, or what not to do. As I focus on You, remembering Your promises and Your words, I believe You will fill me with a peace that is beyond all understanding.
In Your precious name,
A Short Prayer for An Anxious Heart
Dear Lord, I thank you that I can come to You always for any reason. I’m grateful that when I pray to You, You answer me. Help me to come to You at the beginning of my fears and anxieties instead of waiting until I can’t stand them anymore. The quicker I come to You the better. You want to free me from ALL my fears. Help me look to You for help more often so that I can be radiant with Your joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
– Jennifer Heeren
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is an inspirational author, speaker, and passionate follower of Jesus who loves to encourage others heart to heart. She has written 11 books and over 1700 other articles, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. Her daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is available for delivery through Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Rebecca at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can’t find the words to pray.
Prayer for Healing
Prayer for StrengthPrayer for ProtectionMorning PrayersGood Night PrayersSerenity PrayerA Birthday PrayerSinner’s PrayerPrayer for ForgivenessPrayer for GuidanceIntercessory PrayerPrayer for PeacePrayer for FaithPrayer for Love
One of the secrets to surviving college stress is to meditate on what’s causing you to be stressed out and to develop a plan of how to use healthy ways to overcome the effects of stress and receive peace and confidence. This college stress relief prayer will help guide you through this process as you plug into God’s wisdom and supernatural help.
Feeling stressed out at college is a common problem. Ask yourself if you are experiencing any of these things:
Loss of energy
Feeling down, helpless or hopeless
Feeling anxious or worried
Unable to concentrate
Sleep problems (too much or too little)
Feeling pressured about exams
Worried about money
Having problems with a girlfriend or boyfriend
Feeling pressure from your family or having problems dealing with your family
Disagreements and problems with roommates and/or friends
Blowing off steam in unhealthy ways, such as binge drinking or doing risky things
Over-eating or under-eating
Putting too much pressure on yourself to get good grades; being freaked out by low grades
Feeling physically ill, such as stomach problems, headaches, etc.
If you are having any of the above, they may either be things that are causing you stress or a symptom of stress.
Stress is any reaction to an experience that causes you to feel uncomfortable and on high mental and emotional alert.
Stress is not all in your head. It actually causes physical changes in your biochemistry and your body. Your bodily responses were designed to help you have an extra chemical boost to act quickly to get things done in times of danger. However even low levels of constant stress can lead to insomnia, a lowered immune system, muscle pain, high blood pressure, obesity and depression.
Everyone experiences stress. Stress is part of life. However the more stress you feel without finding healthy ways to deal with it, the more impact it will have on you and your ability to do well in your studies and feel good about your life.
Stress can be handled. It’s possible to alleviate stress by doing the things necessary to get it under control. These can include changing your lifestyle, changing your behavior, simplifying your life, getting help from an outside source such as a doctor or counselor, prayer and meditation and becoming more aware of your stress level and what’s causing it.
Step 2: Talk to God using our college stress prayer to get clarity.
The prayer below is designed to help you have a conversation with God about what might be causing your stress so you can discover the ways God might be directing you to deal with it.
It’s best to find a quiet, private time and place to do this. Be sure to do what you can to block out interruptions by turning off your cell phone, etc.
College Stress Prayer
God, thank you for the opportunities of college life. But sometimes there’s too much going on. Here are some things I’ve noticed that tell me I’m stressed out _____________________________________________________________________
I claim the power of this Bible promise: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)
Here are my worries about my academic work. There are projects due and the exams I need to study for. Here are the specific things I’m worried about academically ________________________________
Am I putting too much pressure on myself to get good grades? Show me healthy ways to take a mental break from studying when I need it. Here are some smart ways I can think of to take some of the pressure off myself ________________________________________
When I have deadlines, help me to handle them in a positive way by making a strong effort to get things done on time. Here is a deadline that’s stressing me out today__________________________________
For the crunch times I claim this promise “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:30,31 NIV)
I pray for perseverance, the ability to stick to things until they get done. I ask for your help in the long haul for the following things that I don’t think I’ll ever get through____________________________________
I claim the power of the Bible promise: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him.” (James 1:4,5 NIV)
I give you my worries about the money I need for my college tuition, debt, and the money I need for living expenses and gas money. I ask for your guidance about summer work, part time work and the career I’m hoping to have after graduation to pay off my loans. Teach me to be a good manger of my finances and show me when I need to seek help. Here are some money problems and worries I am having now ________________________________________________________________________
As I think about the future, I sometimes wonder if I’m in the right major. Here are some of my thoughts about whether this major is right for me ____________________________________________________
I want to have good study, health and sleep habits, but it’s not always easy. Show me the kinds of things that I am doing that aren’t helpful in my overall goal of getting an education. Show me if I am over-involved in socializing and other activities, doing too much partying, putting off studying, on the Internet too much, working too many hours in my part time job, sleeping too much or too little ______________________
It’s exciting to be able to form new friendships and relationships. But there are downsides in forming more serious relationships with the opposite sex and taking the chance at finding something that might last forever or might end up with rejection and a broken heart. Here’s something that’s bothering me about the kind of serious relations I’m looking for or am into right now ____________________________________
And then there’s the whole thing with roommates, finding where I fit in and finding friends who will be there for me no matter what. Here’s a relationship problem or void that’s been bringing me down lately ______________________
My relationship with my parents is changing, too. They were used to being involved in every aspect of my life. Help me with the following friction I’m feeling with my family right now ______________________________________
Being in college I’ve had more a chance to think about the meaning of life, where I’m going and what really matters to me. Sometimes I question my faith and wonder if the things I learned as a kid are true. Here are some things that are coming up with me about my faith and my life philosophy___________________________________________________________________________
God, I thank you that I don’t need to solve all of these things right now. Just opening up to you about them helps. This prayer time has shown me that there’s a lot more going on in my life right than just studies. Please show me the most important thing to work on today and which parts of it to leave in your hands in the meantime. Remind me to return to you in prayer again when I need it. I thank you that you’re always there, ready to help me figure things out. Amen.
Step 3: Pray about where to get good help when you need it.
After you identify your areas of major stress, pray for wisdom and guidance as to where to go for help.
Money Problems. A survey shows that money is the number one worry of college students. Although you may think that problems with grades is the biggest reason people drop out of college, the number one reason cited is money problems. More than 60% of college students work part time, 60% have student loans and 40% try to graduate in less than 4 years.
A good place to begin getting help if you’re having money problems is at the financial aid office on campus. Also, consider talking to your parents or family about your money worries.
Depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Many college students visit mental health counselors at some time during college. 27 out of 100 come seek help because of depression, 24 out of 100 seek help because of bipolar disorder (which often develops unexpectedly in early adulthood), 11 out of 100 seek help because of anxiety (anxiety disorders can be caused by a number of stressors, post traumatic stress being one of them if you are a victim, of rape, bullying or violence) and 12 out of 100 seek help because of eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and autism.
The same report said that students are using college mental health services at a much higher rate than in previous years and the type of issues they are dealing with are more severe.
If you even vaguely suspect that your behavior, feelings or ability to cope with things are no longer normal or your coping ability goes through drastic changes, don’t delay in seeking help at your college counseling service.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact a suicide prevention hotline immediately. 800-273-8255
Alcohol and drugs. Many students to “blow off steam” by “partying” and in some college circles, the recreational use of alcohol and marijuana are an expected part of the social culture. Studies done several years ago found that 40 out of 100 college students engage in “binge drinking.” (5 drinks for a guy, 4 drinks for a gal at a time.) The same survey reported that 23 out of 100 college students met the medical definition of being addicted to or abusing alcohol or drugs. As far as campus arrests are concerned, 83 out of 100 are alcohol related.
Dealing honestly with alcohol issues is very relevant to handling college stress because the same report found that college students said they used these substances to escape from thinking about their problems, as a way to handle stress or as a way to relax. The aftermath of drinking binges can cause further stress if it leads to trouble with campus police or later feeling embarrassed about your behavior. And finally, since alcohol is a depressant, it can lead to greater depression and feelings of hopelessness.
If you think alcohol or drugs may be part of your problem,
Academic problems. Everyone has different skills and talents, and during college everyone encounters a class or subject that doesn’t come easily to them. In my case, I found out during a music appreciation class (a class that should have been an easy “A”) that I honestly can’t tell the difference between triple and duple beats or meter when the instructor played music and asked us to tell him what we heard. I was very stressed out trying to do something that it felt impossible to do and I was extremely worried that I would flunk the next exam. I made an appointment with the professor for a private tutoring session to help me learn how to hear the beat. After about 20 minutes of working with me, the professor realized I really couldn’t discern beats. I wasn’t just being lazy. My brain was just lacking this ability that most everyone else has. The professor gave me credit for coming in for extra help and at least trying. Although I didn’t perform well on the upcoming exam, the professor gave me a passing grade.
Here are some ideas on ways to find help if you’re stressed out about academics. Check with your college to find out about any courses they offer on forming good study habits. Also look into remedial classes and tutoring options. Don’t be afraid to make an appointment with your professor or academic advisor. Join or form a study group from your class. Consider taking classes you are worried about on a pass/fail basis. Take a difficult required class during the summer at a local community college where classes are generally smaller, professors are more approachable and course work less rigorous. Just be sure that your college accepts transfer credit from the institution. If necessary, consider the option of dropping a class. (Make sure you do this before the drop/add deadline.) Also, if your academic stress is extreme, consider changing your major or even taking a semester off. If you feel like you can’t concentrate, consider making an appointment with your doctor to determine if you are suffering from an attention deficit disorder. If this is the case, medications can help.
Step 4: Ask God for guidance on how to lessen the stress of relationships.
With the opposite sex. Here are some of the top college relationship problems between the sexes cited by bloggers: moving too fast with physical attraction before an emotional relationship has had a chance to form , forming a serious relationship quickly and then one or both partners straying because they haven’t had a chance to explore other relationships, one or both partners still don’t really know what they want in life, communication problems, break ups, learning how to set boundaries and long distance relationships.
With friends. Here are some of the top college relationship problems with friends during college cited online: roommate problems and disagreements, feelings of loneliness, difficulty finding your “group” when it seems everyone else already has a group of friends, peer pressures to engage in drinking, etc.
With parents. These are the top relationship problems with parents during college reported online: the difficulty parents have “letting go” of control, money issues, pressure to succeed, students beginning to see their parent’s shortcomings once out on their own, students trying to hide things that they don’t think their parents would approve of or would make their parents worry if they knew.
Here are some ideas of where to find help with relationship problems: A good place to start is with a campus chaplain or a nearby campus ministry sponsored by your denomination. They are trained in helping people deal with relationship problems and they can refer you to professional help if you need it. For difficult relationships, consider using campus mental health services. Most dorms have resident advisors who can help with roommate conflicts. Talk over your problems with a trusted friend. Join a support group that teaches how to set personal boundaries in relationships.
This is an area where it’s a little harder to find the specific type of help you need, such as how to get over a traumatic break up with a girlfriend or boyfriend. Often we find ourselves having to make our own roadmap based on our personality and unique circumstances. If you find yourself in this situation, consider journaling or writing down your thoughts and feelings. Then use this as a prayer for guidance, asking God to show you what’s really going on and how to improve things.
Step 5: Look for healthy ways to handle stress.
Some of the unhealthy ways of trying to escape from stress include using food, junk food and over- eating as a means of comfort, sleeping too much, using alcohol etc. Studies show that even volunteer work can add to stress if you’re taking on too much responsibility for nurturing or helping someone.
Here are some healthy stress relievers you might consider. On top of the list is doing a physical activity, such as walking, running, shooting baskets, bicycling, dancing etc. Being out in nature is another great way to get recharged. Interacting with dogs and animals is really effective. If you don’t own a pet, visit a friend who has one. Eat a healthy diet.
Meditation has always been high up on the list for relieving stress. There are many ways to enter into Christian meditation. Sitting quietly and soaking in the peace and God’s nearness in a calm, inspiring atmosphere helps you get away temporarily and refocus. Ideas include visiting an empty sanctuary, walking a prayer labyrinth, attending a worship service, meditating in a place of natural beauty, using a devotional book, listening to Christian music, lighting candles etc.
You also might find it helpful to simplify your schedule by dropping out of nonessential activities or by limiting activities that cause you stress. For instance if you can’t sleep because your mind won’t turn off, consider signing off of electronics half an hour before going to bed.
Step 6: Claim the following Bible verses:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV
“Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds the. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the filed grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will not he much more clothes you, O you of little faith? So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink or What shale we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34 NIV
“But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:40-42 NIV
“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:14 NIV
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” Luke 21:34 NIV
“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.” Proverbs 23:4 NLT
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 NIV
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
Links to other helpful articles:
Final exam blessing prayer
Final exam prayer with scriptures
Finding your personal space at college for meditation and prayer
Test anxiety prayer
Copyright Karen Barber 2014. All rights reserved.
Life can sometimes be quite stressful and that is when Bible verses about stress can provide us with some comfort and instructions on how to deal with that stress.
Whether our stress is related to our work, our finances, our marriage, our family, our children, or any other number of things that might weigh us down with concern, the Bible provides some answers and reassurances to help relieve that stress.
While examining many Scriptures on stress, we have chosen the most significant Bible verses to provide help to those that need it. These verses are great for personal reflection or sending to a friend who needs some comfort.
20 Bible Verses about Stress
“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.”
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
“He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”
“And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”
“For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn–fighting without and fear within.”
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
“While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.”
“My inward parts are in turmoil and never still; days of affliction come to meet me.”
“my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.”
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!””
Rejoice! Check out these 50 inspirational bible verse pictures →
What Does the Bible teach us about Stress?
We know that all of us will suffer stress at some times in our life, but these Bible verses about stress tell us that Jesus cares for us and that we are to cast this stress upon him. He tells us that the Christian’s life should be one of gentle rest even in the midst of life’s turmoils.
I remember a time in my life that I lost the only source of income I knew, and being stressed for many months because I was not certain how I would provide for my family. Yet, God showed me another way and things became better than before.
We are told in these Bible quotes about stress to trust God and believe that he will provide for us and help us resolve any of life’s problems and concerns. We can also take comfort in knowing that there is a future coming in which we will find eternal rest from all of our troubles, never again experiencing the turmoil of stress.
Add a Bible Verse or Comment
The pharmaceutical industry makes millions from the marketing and sale of antidepressants and other mood enhancers. While these medications have their place, it is concerning that they are being prescribed at a higher rate than ever before.
There is one age-old method that can reduce stress levels. It’s free, doesn’t require a prescription, and has zero side effects or drug interactions. You will know it as faith, and millions of people around the world rely on it to see them through hard times. The results are not just anecdotal, there is evidence that it works. Faith and spirituality are abstract concepts, but they can lead to concrete results in mental health improvement and stress reduction.
Here are the sections in this article:
Using Faith to Reduce StressThe Importance of PrayerScientific Evidence That Faith Improves Mental HealthWhat Does The Bible Teach Us About Stress?Some Prayers To Help With Stress
Faith and spirituality are much more than just comforting rituals to religious individuals. They have the ability to have a positive impact on mood and mental health. Aspects of faith enable tangible reductions in, and protection from stress. Faith generates optimism, enriches interpersonal relationships, creates support systems and enhances quality of life. Scientific research is also emerging which demonstrates modest, yet promising connections between religiousness and improved mental health.
Using Faith to Reduce Stress
Faith can give you a sense of purpose and improve your mental wellbeing
Faith is a belief or trust in God, while spirituality is an attachment to religious values. Whichever term you prefer, the concept can be used to successfully reduce stress and improve quality of life. Faith and spirituality provide a sense of purpose, allow people to connect to something greater than themselves, and enable us to release control. These abstract gains then translate into concrete ones: an expansion of social networks and improved health. All of these points are essential to stress reduction.
Numerous self-help sources tell people “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”, but few actually detail what the small stuff is. That’s because the small stuff is highly individual. Something that holds great importance to one person may not even register with another. Faith and spirituality encourage people to look within and take inventory. Through faith, an individual can discover what is most important to them. Being able to recognize what matters most allows people to focus their energy and attention on those issues, and not waste time on less important concerns. By establishing what matters most, people often discover their sense of purpose: a goal to work towards or their reason for existing.
Once people have discovered their sense of purpose, they often learn that there are others who share these same goals or reasons for existing. They learn that what matters to them also matters to others, and this establishes a sense of connection. For some this sense of connection can lead to greater interaction with others, for example through prayer groups or charity drives. For others, just knowing they are not alone provides a great sense of comfort, inner peace and ultimately, relief from stress.
A feeling of interconnectedness also allows people to release control. Often, a feeling of responsibility for everything that happens in life is a great burden. Being connected to others and to something greater lets people share the responsibility, and the burden. We realize that we don’t control or bear responsibility for everything, and this can be a great relief. For those of us in high pressure jobs, like pilots, caregivers or police officers, this enables us to share the burden.
Feeling interconnected leads people to expand their social networks. A shared faith is a building block for relationships. It has been proven that the more close and supportive relationships a person has, the happier they will be. Relationships built on faith are often close and supportive. Faith often brings people together with a common purpose and goal: loyalty to God and a desire to adhere to the tenets of a religion. Interestingly, a cycle is created. Not only does faith enable relationships, but those relationships then serve to reinforce and deepen faith.
Another result of faith is improved health. This includes tangible physical and mental results. With an expanded social network comes more opportunities to take part in activities that can improve one’s physical health. Getting out and being active is easier to do with a partner or group. Having a support system also enables people to better deal with stress and hardship, as the support system can provide an outlet to vent or provide positive distractions. Being stronger both physically and mentally allows for greater resistance to illness and faster healing.
The Importance of Prayer
Prayer is a way of sharing the burden that stress has placed upon you
All relationships require good communication to maintain and enhance them. It should be frequent, honest and personal. A relationship with God is no different. Prayer is the spiritual exercise that allows people to communicate directly with God. It is an intensely personal endeavor that can be performed alone or with a group and can provide a great source of stress relief. The requirements are simple: all we need is belief in a power greater than ourselves, and faith that this power is looking out for us.
Prayer provides stress relief in a variety of ways. A prayer for help is a great source of comfort and relief because a person does not feel they have to bear their burden alone. Often when people are hurting or confused, they can feel as if there is no one to talk to or depend on. A prayer during these tense times relieves that feeling of loneliness. The belief that God is listening to their prayers and will help them is a source of hope to many individuals. With hope comes the strength to carry on.
Trusting in God is also a way of practicing optimism. Researchers have long credited optimism with numerous benefits, including reduced stress and better overall emotional health. By trusting in God, people feel like other outcomes are possible and this boosts a positive outlook.
A prayer of thanks acknowledges and reinforces one’s belief in God and belief in the benevolence of God. When these beliefs are strengthened, an individual is more likely to turn to God during time of strife. Again, a positive cycle is created. Expressing gratitude and giving thanks through prayer reminds people of the positive aspects of their existence and can help ward off feelings of sadness.
Prayer should be a regular part of a spiritual person’s life. Often prayer is incorporated at the beginning and end of each day. Prayer at the beginning of the day sets the tone for a spiritual day, and fills a reservoir of strength to face the coming challenges. Prayer at the end of the day acknowledges God’s help throughout the day, allows people to give thanks for the aid God provided during the day, and provides an opportunity for people to ask for help with any ongoing situations. To reap the greatest benefits of prayer, it is suggested that people pray often. Most people will pray by and for themselves at one point or another, but there are three additional ways to pray that contribute to a well-rounded communication with God. They are: to pray with others, and to pray for others.
- Solo prayer
Prayer by, and for, oneself has straightforward benefits. Solo prayer is an opportunity to ask for help or guidance. Importantly, it is a chance to address any fears or stresses and release their burden to God. People should also remember that communication goes both ways, and take the time to listen to God as well. With the faith that God will listen and help, people find that their stress is alleviated.
- Prayer with others
Prayer with others capitalizes on the communal benefits of faith. People can pray with others in a structured setting, like a church or scheduled prayer group, or it can be spontaneous. An example of spontaneous group prayer is when tragedy strikes. During these dark times, people are often compelled to join with other victims or sympathizers and pray. Group prayer is not limited to hard times though, as many people appreciate being able to rejoice and give thanks with others. In both cases engaging in prayer with similar minded people strengthens the feeling of belonging, reinforces feelings of support and understanding, and alleviates stress.
- Praying for others
To pray for others is an important concept. Some people may be surprised that remembering others in their prayers or dedicating prayers entirely to others can have a positive effect on their own mood and feelings of well-being. Praying for others is an exercise in empathy. It also allows people to focus on something other than their own concerns for a while. Praying for others, and considering what someone else is dealing with, can also allow people to gain a better perspective on their own issues.
Prayer enables people to find the lessons inherent in everyday life and occurrences. A sincere, frequent and frank dialogue with God provides numerous opportunities for introspection. When praying for help, believers are forced to examine what it is they truly need help with, and what they are requesting from God. Praying to give thanks requires the same introspection. Believers can start out being thankful for a superficial occurrence, and then come to see the deeper significance. Recognizing the lessons in everyday life can help people avoid repeating past mistakes and gain confidence in their ability to make sound future decisions.
Scientific Evidence That Faith Improves Mental Health
Many different research studies have found a link between faith and lower stress levels
There have been numerous attempts to establish a scientific link between faith and mental health. Several of them have returned results that seem to confirm this connection. In general, studies and scientific reviews have shown promise in demonstrating that the greater the amount of religiousness (faith) that people have, the greater the positive effects on their mental health.
In one meta-analytic review from 2002, researchers looked at over 147 independent investigations that questioned over 98,000 subjects. They were seeking to determine if a person’s amount of religiousness had any effect on depression or depressive symptoms. Their ultimate conclusion showed a small but promising association between the two. The more religious a person was, the fewer depressive symptoms they experienced. Furthermore, they found that this inverse relationship between religiousness and depressive symptoms might be stronger during high-stress times. This phenomenon is known as the buffer effect.
In another review of scientific literature from 2008, researchers reviewed 115 articles to determine the relationship between religiousness or spirituality and adolescent substance use, anxiety, depression, delinquency, and suicidality. They were able to determine that 92% of the articles demonstrated a significant relationship between religiousness and improved mental health.
More recently, the Journal of Aging and Health published a study in 2009 that examined church attendance and marital status in relation to mood among older adults. In this study, 791 older adults were followed for 8 years. Researchers concluded that church attendance exhibited a protective effect with respect to the health of the older adults. It was further theorized that having a sense of purpose could explain this protective effect.
Finally in 2012, the American Journal of Psychiatry published the results of a longitudinal study that also sought to establish the relationship between religiousness and the onset and course of major depression. This study was significant for a couple of reasons. First, the study was not conducted on depressed or no-depressed individuals themselves, but rather on their offspring (a person who has a parent with depression is considered at high-risk for also developing the disease). Second, the average age of the subjects in this study was 29 years. This is in contrast to most studies exploring depression and religion, which have tended to focus on older adults. The study found that in the 10 years of follow-up, subjects who both described religion as highly important and also affiliated themselves with either Catholic or Protestant denominations had a 76% less chance of experiencing an episode of major depression. Although further and more in-depth study is warranted, the researchers concluded that religion and spirituality should be considered by clinicians during psychiatric evaluations.
What Does The Bible Teach Us About Stress?
The bible contains many helpful quotations regarding stress and faith
Many individuals turn to the Bible in times of stress. Here are some helpful verses to get you started.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30)
“As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” (Psalm 119:143)
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (Jesus in John 14:27)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jesus in John 16:33)
“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)
“Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest.” (Luke 12:25-26)
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:6-8)
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:9-10)
“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Some Prayers To Help With Stress
Here are two sample prayers for you to try during stressful times.
God help me to work through the stress that is in my life today,So that I need not be anxious for tomorrow. I know that you have given me life that is to be developed and enjoyed.
I know in my heart that you provide all that I need for health for happiness, and for eternal life. Please help me to remove those elements in my life that stand in the way of my enjoying your bounty to the fullest extent. Teach me to manage what seems to be unmanageable and to use the stress in my life for renewal and growth. Lord I pray that you will be with people who have been victimized and traumatized by the acts of foolish, uncaring people, who think that terrorism and killing and domination are the only way to resolve their problems. May those who perpetrate such actions come to see that the way to peace is through loving acts of kindness and not through violence and pain. Amen
When I feel crushed by my own worries, Lift my mind and help me to see the truth. When fear grips me tight and I feel I cannot move, Free my heart and help me to take things one step at a time. When I can’t express the turmoil inside, Calm me with Your quiet words of love. I choose to trust in You, each day, each hour, each moment of my life. I know deep down that I can cast these cares on You, that you have taken these anxious thoughts and by dying on the cross, You have set me free. I choose to trust in You, each day, each hour, each moment of my life. I know deep down that I live in Your grace, forgiven, restored by Your sacrifice, You have set me free. Amen
Resources & Further Reading
- Smith et al, 2003. “Religiousness and depression: Evidence for a main effect and the moderating influence of stressful life events”. et al, 2008. “Religion/Spirituality and adolescent psychiatric symptoms: a review”. et al, 2009. “The Effects of Church Attendance and Marital Status on the Longitudinal Trajectories of Depressed Mood Among Older Adults”. 2011. “Religion/Spirituality and Depression: What Can We Learn From Empirical Studies?”.