Bible Study,  Prayer

3 Step Prayer for Stressful Moments

The call comes.  The text lights up your phone.  The words come out of someone’s mouth.  You read it on Facebook. You know the moment… the instant stress hits you.  Worry takes you to the worst possible outcome.  Anxiety feeds on itself as the situation grows in your mind.

I don’t know about you, but I am a pro at letting worry get the best of me.  But God’s Word teaches us a better way to respond to stressful moments.

Trials are promised in Scripture, but so is the peace that passes understanding.  Here is some practical wisdom on how to seek that peace.

3 Step Prayer for Stressful Moments

We are going to use Philippians 4:6-8 to define the steps you can take in prayer when you find yourself in a moment that causes you stress, worry, and anxiety.

6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8 “Finally, brethen, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, think on these things.” (NKJV)


1. Speak your request aloud to God.

Are you in the habit of letting stress overwhelm you? Do you internalize? Do you complain to others? God’s Word teaches a better way.

The request you pray aloud will be your new way to handle your response to a situation.  Think about what is specifically stressful about that moment, and turn it into a specific request.  This comes straight from verse 6 in Philippians 4.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything… let your requests be made known to God…”

It is the beginning of surrender.  You take your eyes off the waves, and acknowledge that God is in control and able and good.  Also, you are obeying Scripture, the command in Phillippians 4:6.  And that, in itself, is surrender.

Speaking your request aloud to God is also the first step toward peace.  Remember the promise in verse 7?  “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds…”  You obtain this promise by obeying the command that came before it.

As for the speaking out loud part, it forces you to put your worry into words.  Worry can roll around in our hearts and minds, start lying to us about the situation, and become unrealistic and overwhelming.  When you define what you are specifically stressed about and need God’s help for, it takes away some of the internal power that worry has.

The stress is not in charge of that moment anymore.  God is.


2. Thank God aloud for something specific to the situation.

According to verse 6, this is the next step of surrender and obeying Scripture. We are to “with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” It is also the beginning of a transformed heart.

Why do we care about having a prayer for stressful moments?  Because we are moving toward peace.  God’s peace.  Our thankfulness and His peace replace our worried thoughts and shift our focus.  It can transform your heart.

Make it specific to the situation.  I’ll share a recent example from my life.

I have a ridiculous capacity to go numb worrying about money.  It can consume every other thought I need to think that day and paralyze me.  This used to be how I lived my life—full of worry and anxiety. But God is teaching me His better way…

Just last week, we had a huge car repair bill to pay.  And we paid it.  But there was no mathematical way we could make several other regular expenses on time.  I could feel worry begin the numbing process in my chest. That old habit.

But I chose to do this 3 Step Prayer instead.

  1. Speak my request out loud: “God, You know our financial needs, and I ask that you help us pay all our bills this month, and protect us if we can’t.”
  2. Thank Him for something specific: “Thank You for the money to pay for a major repair on my vehicle when we needed it.  Thank You for all the times in our marriage you have provided for bills and expenses.  We know You are able to take care of us.”

Read on for the vital third step.


3. Quote a “good word” aloud from Scripture.

Now we get to verse 8, where we “think on these things.”  We often quote that verse alone, or in the context of having pure thoughts.  But this is a letter.  Paul wrote this sentence right after the sentence in verses 6-7.  They go together.  Context is so, so important to understanding God’s Word.  This verse defines all the good things we are to dwell on, right after a command about what we are not supposed to dwell on.

Like being thankful, all the truth and goodness we are to think on is replacing the anxiety in your mind. This step seals the deal on making this a transformative prayer in stressful moments.

I got the phrase “good word” from Proverbs 12:25.

Anxiety in the heart of man [Phil. 4:6-7] causes depression, but a good word [Phil. 4:8] makes it glad.” It’s like Proverbs 12:25 is outlining the main ideas in Philippians 4:6-8.  Don’t you love it when God’s Word does that?

Scripture is the ultimate Good Word.  So quote a verse of Scripture.  And I mean, have one ready to go ahead of time for this prayer.

My current verse to quote in my 3 Step Prayer is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

I have found this one especially relevant to moments when I have to use the 3 Step Prayer, because I am acknowledging Him in all my ways.


If you need some ideas of verses to pray:

Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Psalm 94:19, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comfort delights my soul.”

Psalm 86: 15, “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”

Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46: 1-2, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”

I would love to hear your favorite verse that you quote in stressful moments.


How often should you do this?

As often as you find yourself worrying or stressing.  So yeah, it might be a lot sometimes.

Anytime you…

…need direction.



…are in a conflict.

…experience a loss.

…get hit by a life crisis.

…are stuck in sin.

…have anxiety or depression.

…are frustrated by your children.

You get it.  Life is full of stressful moments of all kinds.  The wisdom in these verses can be practically applied in many, many situations—slightly frustrating or monumentally devastating.

Following the principles in Philippians 4:6-8 with this prayer can transform a stressful moment into a peaceful moment.  And it won’t make sense… It is the “peace that surpasses all understanding.”  Isn’t that worth trying this strategy?

The simple, practical 3 Step Prayer for stressful moments:

1. Speak your request aloud to God.

2. Thank God aloud for something specific to the situation.

3. Quote a “good word” aloud from Scripture.


Other thoughts you might find helpful:

7 Reasons Wife Choose Prayer over Prodding - Growing a Content Heart
5 Things to Say Don't Know What to Pray - Growing a Content Heart

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