How to worship God when you feel anxious.

Dear Cheryl,

I know I had slept on the right side of my bed but when I woke up, I was on the left. I groped in the darkness for my phone and at the sight of the time 25% of sleep cleared from my eyes.

‘Time to pray. It’s time to pray.’

Fighting the urge to complain and wish devotion did not have to be every day, I muttered again the first words to come out of my mouth every morning:

‘Good morning Jesus, Abba, Holy Spirit.’

Groaning like an injured soldier from WWII, my body creaked as I got to my feet. Soon, I was seated at the same spot as always, knees up to my chest and arms around it, AirPods in my ears, right thumb about to press ‘play’ on my favourite worship playlist and eyes shutting close. 

10 mInUtEs lAtEr

I wasn’t praying. Even though I thought I was, there was such an empty silence it felt like my worship rose to the ceiling, turned back and returned to jeer at me. 

I changed the song to one with ‘more’ ambience, hoping it would do the trick. It did not. I just could not sing, I could not move my lips to pray. I sat muted and heavy. The dissident voices rose:

‘Just start your day, time is going. You can pray tomorrow.’ 

‘You’ve prayed already, mark it off your to-do list. Tomorrow will be better, don’t worry.’

It was at that point I realised what felt wrong. It felt like I was alone. He must be here but I could not see Him. 

I know people often say, ‘Oh you don’t have to feel it, just do it, God is everywhere.’ But did that account for the numbness in my heart? It did not feel right, not having this fellowship and communion that I was used to. Communication was a message sent and feedback received, no?

So, I turned off the music, took out my buds and started to say just three words:

Jesus, help me.’ 

No tongues, just plain English, ‘Jesus, I cannot see You. Please, let me see You.’


I chanted these words, again and again. Suddenly Psalm 139:23-24 came to mind and I continued my prayer with it. ‘Lord, search my heart for the reason I cannot seem to see You or pray and take it away.’ 

I love You. I remember all the wonderful things You have done for me. My desire is to worship You.’

A Scripture rose in my heart. ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33). At that point, it felt like a chain was broken, my tongue loosened and worship rose from my belly to break through the ceiling. 

There was joy in my heart and the numbness melted.
It was liberating! 

I know people say that you don’t have to always ‘feel’ it to worship God. But there is a difference between searching for emotional (and fleshy) satisfaction through musical ambience or otherwise, and actually seeking God out for communion. 

My heart knows the difference. I know when my gift of worship is accepted, when it is cheerful, with sincerity and from my heart and not a product of numbness or a distracted mind. I know because I have a spirit that is sensitive to God’s Spirit and when we’re in harmony, I know. He is my Father, you see. 

My relationship with God is not a dark room inhabited by an Ethereal presence I cannot see but must feed with worship–whether stale or fresh–so, I open the door, throw in the food as a daily chore and flee to do other things. 

It is a bright room where my Father holds my hand and fills my heart with joy and laughter. He is real to me and if I do not perceive Him, have I worshipped? 

Always remember that…

The mind forgets too. We forget the miracles of yesterday and how God has gone before us in mercy and restoration. Sometimes, I feel like the world gets to us and it is for no other reason than the fact that we are in it. Jesus makes provisions for times like this so that even when you don’t feel up to it, your heart knows how to worship God when you feel anxious.

He knows that we will not always remember. He knows that sometimes we need some extra alarms, via the Word, to go off in our heads and set our hearts right. My hope is not that I won’t forget again, but that when my heart shows unrest, He will be there to remind me–over and again. This is how to worship God when you feel anxious, worship with the knowledge that HE wants your worship too so HE is there, encouraging you.

The sweetest of men is my Lord.
The most handsome of men is He.
Grace has flown from His lips
to revive my soul.
I will stay with You forever.

—Excerpt from Unrest, Poem no. 8, Staying Soft. 

—Staying Soft, my latest project, is a collection of poems to restore your heart to softness in Christ. I cannot wait to share with you all that God has been teaching me about softness and intimacy. In the meantime, you can support me by making a one-time or recurring donation to my writing ministry (link in bio).


How to worship God when you feel anxious.

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