Going to church gives me anxiety. Yes. I said that out loud! Going to church really does give me anxiety. “Why?” you might ask. Well, I’m not going to elaborate on WHY I feel that way. I’m sure that you have read enough about “church hurt” and deconstruction. I don’t need to add to that conversation.
The thing is, I know that I have probably hurt others “in the name of Jesus” over the years. In fact, I know I have! Was I sincere? Yes. Did I believe I was doing the right thing? Of course. But I have had to ask for forgiveness more times than I can count, and I probably will have to in the future. I am still learning, changing, and asking God to show me where I am in error. Still, I do experience anxiety when I go to church because of some things that we have been through. The older I have gotten, the harder it has become to walk through the church doors week after week. In many ways, it would be easier to just stay home. So what do I do about it? How do I push through?
If I take time to try and see things through a biblical lens, I am reminded that I will never find peace if my focus is on the imperfect church. I must focus on my perfect, never changing, never failing God, and that will only happen when I am abiding in Him, spending time in His Word, and regularly communicating with Him in prayer.
The following are seven things to pray to adjust your focus so that you don’t become disillusioned with the church – the imperfect body of Christ:
Father, help me to focus on You, one day at a time, and please give me wisdom to know whom You want me to connect with each day and each time I go to a church event. Please help me to see Your divine appointments.
Father, help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit and how I can serve those You bring across my path, whether it is on a daily basis or when at church, and help me go into each situation without an agenda and without any expectations.
Father, please help me to see each person that I come in contact with as an individual who needs to be seen, heard, and valued.
Father, help me to not focus on or put my trust in a man (pastor or leader). Help me to observe his character by observing how he lives his life (how does he conduct himself on social media? Does he genuinely care for and prioritize pastoring his congregation? Does he talk behind people’s backs? Is he striving to be in the Word and teach biblical truth?) and encourage him as he strives to honor You.
Father, if something is said (in a sermon) that bothers me or that I don’t agree with, remind me that I can’t expect a pastor to be perfect. If something does concern me, remind me to pray and ask You if there is a way of thinking that I need to adjust or if I need to pray for You to bring it to the pastor’s attention in Your timing.
Father, on the days that the thought of going to church is overwhelming, remind me to take time to pray and tell You how I am feeling. Please enable me to act in obedience to Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
Father, please give me the wisdom to know how You want me to serve the body of believers You have led me to. Help me to wait to hear from You, to see how You lead, and help me to put aside hesitancy and walk in obedience.
Father, help me to focus on You and not on “the church,” remembering that we are all in a process of growth and learning, coming from different backgrounds and experiences. Help me to show others grace when I interact with them.
Father, help me to have Spirit-led, biblically-based boldness when it is necessary. But also help me to have Spirit-infused, biblically-based compassion and understanding when it is necessary.
Father, help me to remember, no matter where I am at or who I am with, that I need to focus on You and not on the people around me. You are the only one who will never hurt me or let me down. And help me to encourage others to focus on You and not on me. Because I will inevitably let them down as well.
Yes. The church is a flawed place, and so much damage has been done in the name of Jesus, but God still loves His church and wants to use His church, and there ARE many faithful believers who are striving to walk in biblical truth and who want to persevere in their faith. God is still alive and active in the lives of believers, and even though it can be easy to focus on those who have hurt us, who have steered into bad doctrine, or haven’t represented God well, we need to focus on God, His character, His purpose, and His calling. We need to be reminded that we are all in the process of growth and learning, no matter how old we are. We need to be regularly “deconstructing” in light of God’s Word, growing in our understanding of who God is, what His character is like, and what His Word says so that we put aside things we believe that are not in line with God’s Word, recognize when things we hear are not biblically accurate, and be able to confront any error, so we might walk in truth and reflect Him in our own lives.
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Gina Smith is a writer and author. She has been married for 34 years to Brian, a college professor, and athletic trainer. For 25+ years she and her husband served on a Christian college campus as the on-campus parents, where Brian was a professor and dean of students. They reside right outside of Washington DC and are the parents of two grown children, one daughter-in-law, and one son-in-law. She recently authored her first traditionally published book Everyday Prayers for Joy, available everywhere books are sold. You can find Gina at the following: Website:ginalsmith.com, Instagram, Facebook, and at Million Praying Moms, where he is the prayer mentor and mentor mom. Gina also runs a prayer community of over 3.0K members. You can join her at the Million Praying Moms Prayer Community.