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Sometimes when I have felt anxiety or fear, it was triggered by something specific. Other times it was just a vague sense of dread as though I was about to receive some bad news. Isaiah tells us that God is “a refuge for the needy in their distress” (Isaiah 25:4). The psalmist tells us the same: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). I have often repeated this to myself and prayed it for others. The word

A couple years ago I read a collection of prayers by the Puritans from the 16th and 17th centuries. I felt impacted on two levels. On the one hand, their prayers of worship were very helpful. But on the other hand, their prayers about penitence and deprecation were so terribly negative, they were downright depressing! Although they were assured of forgiveness through Christ’s death, they seemed to carry around the heavy weight of their sinfulness. Some Christians seem to only feel good

You might recognize one of Isaiah’s more familiar passages when he says: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins” (Isaiah 64:6-7). This gives us an

In Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Ivan endures all the horrors of a Soviet prison camp. One day he is praying with his eyes closed when a fellow prisoner ridicules him: “Prayers won’t help you get out of here any faster.” Opening his eyes, Ivan answers, “I do not pray to get out of prison but to do the will of God.” Prayer is not resigning yourself to some undesirable fate. Nor is prayer manipulating God to

English poet and theologian Frederick Faber wrote: “We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and he will come. He never comes to those who do not wait.” God is a God of power. Where mountains tremble, fire blazes, and nations quake (Isaiah 64:1-2). God does awesome things, sometimes things beyond our expectation. “For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came