A Prayer for Victims of the Post-Pandemic Pandemic

It’s a post-pandemic pandemic, and chances are pretty likely it has already hit your home. This pandemic is not the result of a virus or a variant. It’s not a bacterium or a parasite. I’m talking, of course, about anxiety. You’re probably aware of some of the staggering statistics about the precipitous rise in anxiety cases in the last three years. According to one study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, half (49.9%) of all eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds and nearly a third (32.3%) of all adults have reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorders.1

This doesn’t mean that half of all young adults or one out of three adults are on medication or have been clinically diagnosed as depressed. What it does indicate is that lots of people feel anxious or depressed at least some of the time. I doubt you’d have to look too far to find someone in your life who would claim to struggle in this area. Perhaps a person you love has opened up to you about their battle with anxiety or asked for prayer for their depression. What should you do or say?

This article is not intended to give a complete treatise (or provide medical counsel) on the topic of anxiety, but I want to give you one tool for your utility belt, a simple prayer from Ephesians 1. 

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength. (Ephesians 1:17–19)

Identity Problems Are God Problems

The Ephesians weren’t so very different from us. Their city was cosmopolitan, affluent, and pluralistic. Though Acts 19 tells of a great revival as the church in Ephesus was planted, after a few years passed, the believers in town got on the struggle bus. We don’t know exactly what their problems looked like, but we can infer from the content of Paul’s letter that they had forgotten who they were in Christ. Simply put, the Ephesians had an identity problem. 

I submit to you that many believers presently struggling with feelings of anxiety and depression may be struggling with an identity problem too. 

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians comes at the end of the first chapter, after the apostle has opened his letter with a long, billowing sentence enumerating the myriad blessings believers have in Christ. These blessings include, but are not limited to believers being . . . 

  • Chosen by God (v. 4)
  • Adopted by God (v. 5)
  • Made holy and blameless (v. 4)
  • Lavished with grace (v. 8)
  • Redeemed (v. 7)
  • Sealed with the Holy Spirit (v. 13)

After Paul calms down from this explosion of blessings to the praise of God’s glorious grace, he tells the Ephesians that “this is why” he prays for them (v. 15). All of the blessings he just spelled out are the fuel of his prayer. In other words, because of who they are and what they have in Christ, Paul hits his knees on their behalf. 

His subsequent prayer contains one primary request: that God the Father “would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (v. 17).

Paul is praying that the Ephesians would grow in their knowledge of God. He prayed this because Paul realized something very important: Identity problems are God problems. Anxiety problems are God problems. 

If I believe in a God who is distant, small, uninterested, weak, and unsure about the future, how could I help but feel anxious about all that’s going on around me? How could I not struggle with fearing people who seem so powerful by comparison? 

If someone you know is affected by anxiety, begin by praying that they would grow in their knowledge of God. Then take them to places like Psalm 139, Isaiah 40, or Psalm 91 and show them the greatness of the Father of Glory. As their view of God expands, most likely their battle with anxiety will shrink. 

A Hope-Filled, Super-Abundant Identity

After making his primary request, Paul has three sub-requests, or fruits that will come as a result of knowing God. The first two go together. Paul prays that the Ephesians would know “the hope of his calling” and “the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (v. 18). 

Both of these are results of knowing God and take us right back to the believer’s identity in Christ. Paul first wants the believers to know the “hope” of this calling. 

To be a disciple of Christ is a hope-filled matter. We possess a hope not contingent upon circumstances or seasons. Our hope need not falter when bad news comes, when the kids leave, when the paychecks cease, or when a loved one enters eternity. Our hope is a Person—the immutable, omnipotent, sovereign God. 

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. (Hebrews 6:19)

Our hope is Christ in us and us in Christ. He has reversed the curse, defeated death, purchased our pardon, and taken His place in heaven, far above all power and dominion. As followers of Christ, this is the hope to which we are called! Getting to know God will mean getting to know His calling for us as His children. But that’s not all. Our identity is also super-abundant. 

Interestingly, Paul doesn’t pray that the Ephesians would know something about their inheritance in Christ (though that, too, is something to rejoice over). A careful reading of verse 18 reveals that Paul wants the Ephesians to know that they are Christ’s glorious inheritance—the prize for which He died, the joy that was set before Him as He endured the cross. 

Paul doesn’t pray this to inflate the Ephesians’ ego but that they would realize the beauty and power of the gospel to redeem souls “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), who continually carried “out the inclinations of [their] flesh and thoughts” and who “were by nature children under wrath” (Eph 2:3). Intrinsically, there’s nothing glorious about us. However, because we have been washed, sanctified, and justified by the Redeemer, we have been transformed into a super-abundant, opulent inheritance. 

As you intercede for someone struggling through a battle with anxiety, ask that God open their eyes to understand the hope of their calling in Christ and their status as the glorious inheritance of Christ. 

Power beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Paul has one more request. He wants the Ephesians to know the mind-blowing, incomparable, surpassing, immeasurable power of God toward them (v. 19). This, Paul says, is the same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the heavens above Satan and his henchmen. The same power that defeated death for all time, crushing the skull of the serpent, is at work in you.

This doesn’t mean that you should expect to catch bullets with your bare hands, leap tall buildings in a single bound, or perform miraculous wonders at will. This power is much better than a cheap parlor trick. 

This is the power to break addictions. 

This is the power to soften a prodigal’s heart. 

This is the power to reconcile a broken marriage. 

This is the power to overcome a lifelong struggle with sin. 

This is the power to forgive what seems unforgivable. 

This is the power to live in freedom instead of fear. 

It’s this power that Paul wants the Ephesians to know as they get to know God. And it’s this power that could change the heart of your anxiety-ridden loved one as well. 

I don’t know how the post-pandemic pandemic has impacted your life or the lives of those under your roof. But I do know that God is already at work in the heart of your anxious loved one, and as you pray His Word back to Him, He will continue that work in ways that will astound you. 

The letters to the seven churches in Revelation were not only intended to speak to ancient believers in faraway places. They have a message for all churches in all times and places. They have a message for you. When you partner with Revive Our Hearts to help women thrive in Christ before September 1, we’d love to send you Overcomers: Lessons from the Churches of Revelation, a short study adapted from the teaching of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, as our thanks. Simply request your copy when you make a donation of any amount!

1 “Latest Federal Data Show That Young People Are More Likely than Older Adults to Be Experiencing Symptoms of Anxiety or Depression,” KFF, March 27, 2023, https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/press-release/latest-federal-data-show-that-young-people-are-more-likely-than-older-adults-to-be-experiencing-symptoms-of-anxiety-or-depression/#:~:text=Nearly%204%20in%2010%20(39.3,health%20crisis%20in%20the%20U.S..mport.

About the Author

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson lives in a small Minnesota town with her husband, son and daughter, and ridiculous black dog. She enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and coaching basketball. You can read more of her musings about God's Word at biblestudynerd.com.

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