Father God, take my burdens

How prayer helped relieve my anxiety over grades

Tyler Cho, Staff Writer

Stretching my legs out in front of me, I was greeted by the familiar creaks and pops of my stiff knees and ankles as my bones ground together to get into a more comfortable position. I tried to ignore the burning ache in my back, fighting desperately to keep my attention on the pastor speaking in front of me, illuminated in the dim room by the bright stage lights shining on his figure.

Concentration was difficult; my mind was weighed down by all the things that had happened that week. My pre-calculus test hadn’t gone as well as I had liked despite the late hours I had stayed up studying for it. I still hadn’t started summer program applications — I had meant to begin the week prior, but volleyball practices and games on top of my already hectic workload threw those plans out the window. I had late projects whose due dates had passed several days before, my grades had been slipping since the start of the New Year — the usual MVHS student problems. And to top it all off, I had just messed up the praise songs we had performed for worship; my fingers couldn’t hit the bass frets fast enough, and I had gotten lost in the transitions.

In short, it hadn’t been my best week.

As I lamented over my situation, I noticed everyone else standing up, their Bibles opening to Philippians 4:6-7. Scrambling to follow suit, my voice joined a chorus of mumbling as the congregation read out the passage.

Was it a coincidence that the topic of the day’s message was centered around the exact problem that had made me break down three times the past week? A godsend, literally? Either way, I listened intently to every word of the pastor’s message, scared that if I missed even a single phrase I’d never be able to destress.

The pastor explained that we can never access the peace granted to us by the Spirit, the peace of God that sets our hearts at rest and frees us from the worries of the world, without prayer. And “supplication,” or earnestly begging for something, was key in our prayers. Don’t be afraid to ask, he reassured us, but pray with specific requests for God so that we can receive specific responses from Him.

That last point surprised me. I had never tried to ask God for help in specific areas of my life, afraid that being too specific would be selfish and I would end up praying in a way that wouldn’t please Him. For example, I would never ask for a good grade on a math test because I always thought requests like that would make me seem too concerned with worldly problems. But the more I reflected on it, the more asking God for help with my problems made sense.

As it is written in Matthew 7:11: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

If God is a loving, all-powerful god who knows me and cares for me as His own, why would He not help if I asked Him for it? If He had already given me the greatest gift of all, forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ, it made no sense that He wouldn’t provide for me.

That isn’t to say that all of my problems will disappear; there will continue to be obstacles that prevent me from living an easy, carefree life. But that doesn’t mean I have to shoulder all of the burden on my own. It doesn’t make sense for me to keep stressing over my grades when I have an almighty God I can rely on.

Following the sermon, I got on my knees and prayed to Him. I thanked Him for being there for me, for listening to me. I asked Him for guidance in my classes, that He might relieve me from the anxiety that had been weighing me down for the past couple of weeks and help me to draw strength from Him in the days to come.

There were no fireworks, no crazy visions or prophecies. After I finished and stood up with everyone else, I didn’t see any tongues of fire resting on people. But in my heart, I felt a huge, crushing weight lifted, filling me with joy and even excitement for the coming days. And I resolved to work prayer into my schedule so that I could feel that rush of emotion again and again, like a cooling wave of calm washing over my body, setting me at peace.

Since that day, I’ve felt a lot lighter. Academic performance is still a big part of my life, but I’ve begun to put the most important things first. My work ethic has improved, I’m happier and more appreciate of my friends and family and I’m not stressed out over my grades anymore. But best of all, I can feel my relationship and my reliance on God grow each and every day.