Related collections and offers
About the Author
Molly Wigand is a writer and editor who lives in Lenexa, Kansas. She and her husband, Steve Jackson, have three sons. She is the author of a number of children’s books and has taught creative writing to children and adults. She is a frequent contributor to Abbey Press Publications and is the author of the Elf-Help Book for Kids Help Is Here for Facing Fear.
Read an Excerpt
PrayerStarters To Help You Handle Stress
By Molly Wigand
Abbey Press PublicationsCopyright © 1999 Molly Wigand
All rights reserved.
The Power of Silence
Be still and know that I am God. —Psalm 46
The stress and chaos of life often drown out God's calming voice. The noises of television, radio, office machines, and traffic violate our quiet spaces.
Find a quiet place to pray. Whether in the car, in an elevator, or on the front step, treasure a moment of silent reverence. Honor the power of stillness. Rediscover God's assurance. Peace and harmony are within our grasp.
Stop and listen to your world right this minute. What noises do you hear? What quiet, everyday place can become a shrine of prayer for you?
Help me to honor _________________________________ as my "quiet place" of prayer. As I experience the wonder of silence, fill my life with stillness and peace.
Give Peace a Chance!
Before me peaceful Behind me peaceful Under me peaceful Over me peaceful Around me peaceful. —Navajo prayer
Native American cultures openly embrace the spirit world and its gifts of peace and wisdom. The chanting prayer above reveals the value of making peace within and outside ourselves. By extending peace and reconciliation to friends and strangers alike, we transform our lives into "living prayers." As we offer our acceptance and forgiveness to others, God offers peace and serenity to us.
What relationship or situation is causing you stress at this moment? In a spirit of prayer and reverence, try to bring peace and understanding to the situation. Feel the soothing hand of God guiding your actions as your "living prayer" is answered.
Guide my interactions with the people I know, especially ______________. Help us to understand and accept one another. As I let go of resentment and welcome peace to my heart, allow me to enjoy the release of my stress and dis-ease.
Walking the Walk
O Great Spirit, Whose breath gives life to the world and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze. We need your strength and wisdom— May we walk in beauty. —A Native American prayer
A simple, mindful walk in God's wondrous creation releases us from the unnecessary stresses of our lives. Think of each gentle footstep on the earth as a nonverbal "thank you" prayer for the beauty of the world. As you walk, take in all the sights and sounds of your surroundings. Imagine the breath of God warming you with perfect peace.
I will practice my "walking prayer" ___________ times a week.
Here are some good places in my neighborhood to take a mindful prayer-walk with God: ________________ ________________ ________________
In With the Good Thoughts ...
Relax and breathe. Breathe in the love instilled into this speck of time and creation. Breathe out fear. —Lisa O. Engelhardt, Acceptance Therapy
Deliberate, peaceful breathing eases mental discomfort. As you inhale the refreshing, calming air, you also take in all the good energy and love our universe offers. Exhaling rids your body and mind of all stress and disharmony.
Make your next breath a wordless prayer. Silently affirm God's power to breathe good into your life and to help you expel negative thoughts and feelings.
Sit in a comfortable chair in a relaxed position. Breathe in to a slow, gentle count of six. Then breathe out for six restful counts.
Welcome God's harmony and joy into your heart and mind. Gently say goodbye to the day's stress and tension.
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. —Albert Einstein
Though Albert Einstein was a brilliant man of science, his spiritual nature was equally strong. By finding magic and delight in his work and discoveries, his life bridged the chasm between logical explanation and divine happenstance.
Whatever our chosen calling may be, our workdays have the potential to be living prayers of joy. By viewing our work as an opportunity and blessing—rather than a stressful chore to be endured—we honor God and bring joy and fulfillment to each day of our lives.
Imagine that today is the first day you've experienced your daily work. Approach your duties with the enthusiasm of a first-day employee. Changing a diaper, typing a memo, ringing up a sale—make each task a joyful, working prayer.
Today I saw my job in a different light. Rather than focusing on the stress my job causes, I discovered _______________________________. I am thankful for the way my job allows me to ______________________. Help me always to view my daily work as noble service to you and the world.
Stop—In The Name of Calm!
Stop worrying about the future, the past, the unknown. Stop scurrying from one draining activity to the next. Stop long enough to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and whisper a prayer. —Molly Wigand, Heavenly Ways to Handle Stress
Our society fosters the belief that "busy is good." The more items on our daily agenda and the more tasks on our plate, the more important we feel. From a stress perspective, more is not better. When we begin to dread our daily challenges and resent their toll on our psyches, it's time to say "Stop. No more."
When was the last time you said "yes" to a commitment though you wanted to say "no?" What choices can you make today to say "no" to more unneeded stress?
You know that I'm stressed out. New expectations are heaped on my shoulders every day, and I'm exhausted. Help me to say "no" to nonessential tasks like ___________________________________________________, so that I can fulfill my important commitments, like __________________________________________________________, with willingness, energy, and love.
The Beauty of the Here and Now
Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. —Thich Nhat Hanh, Teaching Peace
Even though our days are stressful, we often add to that stress by worrying about tomorrow's uncertain outcomes. We revisit the stress we felt yesterday by allowing remorse and regret to impinge on today's joy.
Make each moment of today a prayer of wonder.
Several times today, stop in your busy tracks and compose a prayer of mindfulness and joy.
What spiritual gifts are present in this very moment?
Keep me aware of life's tiny moments. Help me appreciate _____________________, _____________________, and _______________________. Your goodness surrounds me, if only I am there to welcome its healing into my heart.
If we have listening ears, God speaks to us in our own language, whatever that language is. —Mohandas Gandhi
We may limit our idea of prayer to our requests, praises, and thanks. But prayer is a two- way street. Listening for God's gracious reply is another important part of praying and receiving grace.
Singing birds, gentle rainfall, rustling leaves. All these nature sounds whisper God's soothing message to us: I am right beside you, behind you, and within you, carrying your burdens and freeing you from the bonds of stress and worry.
Think of the everyday sounds that ease your mind. The fragrant hiss of a steam iron, the promising gurgle of coffee brewing, the cardinals' calls, the cat's purr.
Listen for God's voice in all these sounds today. Realize that peace and harmony are singing in the friendly sounds of your life.
Thank you, God, for my favorite sounds.
Making Room for Peace
God, whose love and joy are present everywhere, can't come to visit you unless you aren't there. —Angelus Silesius
Sometimes prayer seems impossible. It feels as though God isn't paying attention to our desperate cries for help. When we experience this prayer impairment, our egos may be too involved in our spiritual journeys.
Prayer works best when we're not asking God for specific outcomes. Ram Dass writes that our spiritual goal is to become "hollow reeds for the healing music of life." When we empty ourselves of earthly needs and wants and simply ask for God's mysterious will to be done, we open ourselves to miracles we could not possibly anticipate or comprehend.
Make a list of the stressful situations that haunt your life with anxiety and disharmony.
With complete faith and confidence, turn the problems over to God. Realize that by trying too hard to solve our own problems, we deny ourselves the benefits of God's wisdom and guidance.
I don't know what to do about ____________________. I release these situations to your care, freeing me to experience the joy of letting go.
Ride Out the Storm
Visualize a thunderstorm. Before it arrives, the clouds gather in the hot, muggy heavens. Discomfort and unease fill the air. Then lightning strikes, thunder crashes, and rain pounds. Life is tense and uncertain. But when it's over, life is calm. You can feel the relief. The earth is nourished and cooled. —Molly Wigand, Heavenly Ways to Handle Stress
We can choose to accept some stress as a natural by-product of being fully alive. With patience and faith, we wait out the storms of turbulence and imbalance in our lives, knowing that peaceful days and nights are just around the corner.
When prayerful words escape you, create some prayerful pictures. Sketch your vision of your life at this very moment. What clouds loom in the sky? What big storms threaten you on the horizon?
How will your world appear when balance returns to your life? Sketch this stress-free, peaceful world.
Offer your spiritual artwork as a creative prayer for serenity and calm.
Our Own Brand of Wisdom
Each of us bears a divine spark within the center of our being. We are graced with the light of wisdom. Often we find that we have known all along what to do. We needed only to look with inner vision and read the sacred writings of our own souls. —Lisa O. Engelhardt, Finding the Serenity of Acceptance
When too much stress makes our lives unmanageable, we often underestimate the inner spiritual resources we possess.
Your own unique soul-voice is connected to God's wisdom and power. Discover the peace and serenity that are ever-present parts of you.
Create a prayer journal to reflect your personal path from stress to peace.
Set aside a sacred time and place in your life for meditating and writing about your spiritual journey.
What spiritual lesson is hiding in the stress I feel today? I will listen carefully to God's still, small voice inside me. How can I make today a celebration of harmony and love?
Accepting Our Purpose in Life
Help me to find my happiness in my acceptance of what is my purpose: in friendly eyes, in quietness born of trust, and, most of all, in the awareness of your presence in my spirit. —Alistair MacLean
It's tempting to ask, "Why me?" when suffering and stress consume our days. Through thoughtful prayer, we can move beyond self-pity to acceptance. By making acceptance a daily habit, we can focus on the positive in life as irritation and negativity fade away. When we let go of uphill battles we can experience the serenity of acceptance.
What situations in your life make you ask, "Why me?"
How would it feel to move from "Why me?" to "Thy will be done"?
Help me to accept the good and bad in my life today. Grant me the wisdom and courage to know when to fight, and also when to surrender to your divine will.
Friendship Is a Living Prayer
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort, of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away. —George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
We often find it difficult to talk to God in prayer, yet it is so easy to talk to a dear friend or loved one. By sharing our deepest feelings and fears with true friends, we experience the release and healing power of prayer. God's grace works through the people in our lives to ease our stressful burdens.
What friend or loved one can you call on when prayer doesn't come easy?
How has this person revealed God's grace in the past? How can you bring God's love and comfort to another?
Thank you for bringing ____________________________ into my life. As I receive your love and grace, help me pass along your soothing gift of assurance to _____________________________________.
Chains of Friendship and Love
To be said while holding hands: May the love that is in my heart pass from my hand to yours.
Many religious traditions honor the idea of passing God's love from one person to another. Whether "sharing the peace" at a worship service or experiencing the miracle of fellowship in an extended spiritual retreat, we enrich our lives each time we acknowledge God's love and extend the gift of friendship to all the children of creation.
Create your own tradition for sharing God's message of peace. Gather friends and family to celebrate the all-encompassing love that surrounds you.
Dedicate your gathering as a prayer of affirmation. God loves us all and wants us to be free of worldly stress and care.
As I gather with friends and loved ones, help me remember that your love is everlasting, made for sharing freely with everyone around me.
The Joy of Perspective
Step away from your life to look at it. Life is like a painting—messy close up, but blending into a harmonious whole from a distance. —Lisa O. Engelhardt, Acceptance Therapy
When our lives become so stressful that we can't see the blessings around us, it's important to get away for some spiritual renewal. Making time every day for quiet meditation may sometimes be enough to heal our life-worn souls.
More stressful times call for more drastic spiritual measures. A day-trip to a less hectic spot may help us regain our perspective. Yesterday's monstrous worry and stress become more manageable when seen with our "new" eyes.
Plan a day of spiritual renewal. Where will you go? What will you do? Who will go with you? What spiritual benefits might you receive?
I am too close to the details of my life. Help me get away, either physically or spiritually, so that I can once again see the blessings that surround me. Allow me to appreciate anew the gifts of __________________________.
God's Promise of Rest and Ease
When stress and its effects begin to overwhelm you, listen for the voice of God, who beckons, "Come to me when you are weary and I will give you rest." —Tom McGrath, Stress Therapy
A scarlet cardinal against the backdrop of winter ... the welcome tender green of spring shoots ... the spatter of brilliant stars on a clear night ... the brilliant palette of sunset. The beauty of nature soothes our spirits; the grandeur of nature affirms the majesty and mystery of the Creator.
What scripture passages or other holy writings heal your wounded spirit?
Read and reread these verses and quotations. Commit them to memory. Recite them when your own words fail you in times of prayer. Experience the grace and assurance of the ages with each recitation.
Being Human: It's Not Always Pretty!
This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. -Rumi
Excerpted from PrayerStarters To Help You Handle Stress by Molly Wigand. Copyright © 1999 Molly Wigand. Excerpted by permission of Abbey Press Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.