Being bombarded with bad news from every angle is something we’ve lived with for a long time. As a society, we seem drawn to sensational headlines and although we say we’d like more good news, there seems to be an inherent negativity bias that draws us in.
While our proclivity for bad news ebbs and flows, in times of crisis it’s far easier to become fixated on what’s wrong rather than making the extra effort to find that elusive silver lining.
In our pandemic year, the term “doomscrolling” was added to our vocabulary, a word reflecting our tendency to continuously scroll depressing social media headlines, even though they make us sad.
Perhaps in response to this evolution of our negativity bias, or because people are doing more Google searches for prayer than ever before, Facebook began testing a “Prayer Post” feature in April 2021. Religion News Service reported the idea for this feature came from the many ways people have connected to each other using Facebook during the pandemic.
While the idea of clicking a button on a social network to request prayer may seem strange on the surface, it does provide a way of reaching out to our virtual networks in a time of need. As Christians, we are instructed to “devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart,” (Colossians 4:2). Galatians 6:2 reminds us to “share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
Often when we’re in the throes of panic or caught in a cycle of negativity, we forget to redirect our energy into prayer, trusting God to help us figure things out.
“Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”Psalm 55:22
Here are four ways to pray when you’re in a negative cycle
Pray the Psalms
The book of Psalms provides a wonderful script for us to use in prayer, and has poems and songs for all sorts of occasions: praise, lament, request, meditation and more.
Here’s an example, a prayer David wrote while he was being held prisoner, “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you,” (Psalm 56:3). Seems like a good place to start.
Remember, fear does not come from God
When we see so much bad news in the world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and give in to despair, which leads to fear of the future. Instead, we should find ways to lean into love and trust God when He says He’ll work all things out for good (Romans 8:28).
When you feel overwhelmed by bad news, pray the words from 1 John 4:17-18.
“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
Take all of your concerns to God
Philippians 4:6-7 says it best, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
You may be thinking, yes how nice yet unrealistic it would be to not worry about anything. In our own strength, it’s impossible. But when God’s involved, amazing things happen. Give it a try.
Leave tomorrow’s worries for later
While there’s nothing wrong with making plans and preparing for the future, in the end we don’t know what the news will be the next day. If we can find a way to leave our worries with Jesus through prayer, we’ll be all the better for it.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”Matthew 6:34
These are just a few suggestions to get your prayer life kick-started and help you escape negative thought patterns. The Bible is filled with so many more amazing and inspirational passages. If you look to it to help give you words while you lift your concerns to heaven, you won’t soon run short of things to say.