Have You Ever Found Yourself Worrying While Praying?
The following article first appeared on FoxNews.com on November 26, 2021.
When our two children, Stephanie and Eric, were young teenagers, my husband and I let them travel alone from Nashville, Tennessee to Melbourne, Australia, where we were living and working as missionaries. This was a very long journey, requiring multiple changes in major airports. I was feeling quite anxious about their making this trip by themselves, and I was praying about it almost constantly.
However, as I prayed, I was worrying much more than I was trusting God.
Eventually, I realized this kind of praying was displeasing to God—and it certainly wasn’t relieving my anxiety. So one morning as I brought my concerns about this trip to Jesus, He helped me find a better way to pray. He showed me that if I kept on telling Him about these concerns, I would live in a state of tension. He helped me see that instead of repeating my worry-prayers over and over, I should thank Him for the answers that were already on the way.
From that moment on, whenever I started feeling anxious about the trip, I thanked God for how He was answering my prayers. I found that thankful prayers really did help me calm down and trust Him to take care of Stephanie and Eric. Little did I know how much I would need this peace when the time came for them to make their trip.
On the morning when Stephanie and Eric were scheduled to arrive at the Melbourne airport, I stood eagerly in front of their gate—waiting for them to disembark. Soon, a steady stream of travelers made their way into the waiting area, and I strained to catch the first glimpse of my children.
After a few minutes, the initial rush of passengers began to slow to a trickle before finally coming to a stop completely. My heart sank when I realized that my children were not on the flight!
Upset and confused, I made my way to a nearby hallway where I stood wondering what to do next. Our family did not yet have cell phones, so I had no idea how to contact Stephanie and Eric. After a while, I spotted a representative of the airline they were ticketed to fly on. I poured out my concerns to this man, and he suggested that I go to the Communications Office.
The Communications Office, with its closed, windowless door, looked official and uninviting. I walked in cautiously, trying to figure out what to say to the woman sitting behind the massive desk. Before I could utter a word, she asked, “Are you Sarah Young?” I was amazed that she knew my name! When I answered affirmatively, she told me that my children—who were still in Sydney—had asked the airline to get in touch with me. They had missed their connecting flight and were concerned that I would worry about them. The woman kindly assured me that Stephanie and Eric were being well taken care of. They’d been given food vouchers and were eating something even as we spoke. She told me they would be put on another plane to Melbourne soon, and she gave me the flight details.
It’s impossible to express how relieved I felt! Although I had to wait several hours for their flight to arrive, I waited—and prayed—with a thankful, joyful heart.
When Stephanie and Eric finally got off the plane in Melbourne, they had quite a story to tell me! Their flight to Sydney had arrived late. Before they could catch their connecting flight to Melbourne, they had to go through Passport Control, collect their bags, go through customs, re-check their bags, take a bus from the international airport to the domestic airport, and then find their way to the right gate. So, after they got through Passport Control, they started running toward Baggage Claim— hoping to make it to their gate in time.
Because Stephanie was older than Eric, she was carrying both passports. The children were standing in Baggage Claim, waiting for their luggage to arrive on the carousel, when Stephanie suddenly realized she no longer had Eric’s passport. She panicked and got very upset.
She thought, Oh, no! What have I done? I’ve lost my brother’s passport, and now he’s going to be deported!
Stephanie left Eric behind to collect their bags as she anxiously ran back toward Passport Control to see if she had dropped his passport somewhere along the way.
Eric, in a fog of jetlag, struggled to focus as he watched for their bags. At one point, he happened to glance down and notice a tiny, navy-blue corner of something sticking out from under a suitcase as it passed by in front of him. He reached down and pulled the small blue item out from beneath the suitcase.
It was his passport! Stephanie must have accidentally dropped it onto the baggage carousel. When she returned a little later, in a rather frantic state of mind, she found her younger brother waiting calmly for her with his passport and their luggage.
By this time, they knew it was too late to catch their flight to Melbourne. Stephanie was still upset because she didn’t know how they were going to get home. So she was very relieved when the airline personnel assured them that their tickets could be used on another flight.
Both children were in good spirits when they arrived in Melbourne, and I was thrilled to have them back safe and sound. As I pondered all that had transpired, I had no doubt that my many thankful prayers for their journey had been wonderfully answered!
First Thessalonians 5:17–18 instructs us to pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. Gratitude shifts our focus from our troubles to Jesus’ promises and His continual presence with us.
Is your heart anxious today? Instead of worrying when you pray, try thanking Jesus for the answers that are already on the way. There is power in thankful prayers!