Sometime in the months leading up to our recent move, we reconnected with our church in Arlington, MA, and one Saturday afternoon, I attended a prayer meeting.
I’m not great at prayer. I guess most people say that. (If you’re good at prayer, you probably just stay silent on the subject and jump in more readily than others during pop-up prayers.) Also, I felt strange about jumping back into church activities when I had one foot out the door already, calling moving companies and gathering boxes. But, a friend invited me, and I embraced the opportunity to practice prayer among friends and familiar faces, who all understood we are all on our way to somewhere, together here for just a little while.
After opening us in prayer, my friend directed our attention to a worksheet, which she passed out along with pens. Great! I thought. An ice breaker of sorts that also served a purpose. A way to put thoughts to paper first before sharing them outloud.
My friend’s “Worry Worksheet” was divided into three columns. On the far left, I was meant to list the things I was worried about. In the middle, I was supposed to turn the worries into prayers, and on the right, I was supposed to describe ways I already saw God at work in those prayer requests.
Basically: ascending difficulty from left to right. Right? Before even writing a word, I imagined I’d have a much easier time filling in the left-most column (my worries), and increasing difficulty in completing the other two (prayers and gratitude). And yet, when I reviewed the page in order to write this post, I can see that the opposite, in fact, happened.
My left-most column lists six distinct, well-defined worries, but there is white space surrounding those words. In contrast, my handwriting in the other two columns spills outside the lines as I see how I tried to cram in all of my prayers and thanks. I remember that during the prayer meeting itself it was such a relief to see that on paper, to see how much I had to be thankful for.
Also, with all of that scribbled onto paper and then summarized in prayer in small groups, I felt more prepared to turn my mind and prayers to other needs, in order to pray for our local churches, towns, the nation, and the world.
I found this exercise so helpful that I leave it for you here, courtesy of my friend’s mother who devised this scheme based on the verse from Philippians 4:6-7, which says:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Here you will find a catalog of my writing and reflections.