Does God Need Us To Worry?


I spoke at a conference this weekend. The college students in attendance were Christians and seekers dealing with all the things you’d expect; relationship worries, grades/jobs worries, sex worries……lots of worries and anxieties overall. One topic of discussion that I’m still kicking around is how we are often duped into thinking that by worrying or being consumed with something that we are doing something productive or even spiritually important.

What I learned from students this weekend is that they can buy into certain mindsets that are a particular draw for Christians, and I wonder if the same holds true for people from other religious traditions. The mindsets go something like this:

  • If I am consumed with thinking about ________, God will know how much I want that thing. If I am NOT consumed with worry about ________, then God may think I don’t care about it any more and then God may not give it to me!!!!!!

Some of us actually function as if our worry alerts God to what we want or need. We remain in utterly unhelpful cycles of worry because are worried about the spiritual implications should we stop!  If we are honest, each of us in our own way is tempted to think that our worry has some value. The outcome of this thinking in relationship with God is a sad and subtle attempt to manipulate God with our own suffering. What if God knows us so well and so intimately that our wants and needs are clearer to him than to us? What if God will hold our wants and needs with great tenderness and care whether we worry or not? If God were compelled by our worry, then wouldn’t we be commanded to worry in the Bible?

Worry is a mental process that is largely unhelpful to we humans. After we have assessed what we can do about any given situation, worry becomes an anxiety-provoking and distracting practice. It takes us out of our actual lives and into a future-looking possible outcome that scares us to death. Bringing that fear into our relationship with God looks very different than worrying. While worrying spins us inside our own thoughts, prayer regarding our fears involves a relational process of requesting, confessing, surrendering, and ideally, some listening too. Let’s get real about what we are really doing when we are worrying, because sometimes it is a practice that enables us to avoid bringing the deeper feelings more squarely into our relationship with God.


  1. I totally agree. God cannot be manipulated by our worry into doing what we want… or even into doing what we *think* we need. What does God need from us? Trusting obedience and surrender. He needs us to trust in his very nature: that He is loving, all knowing, and all powerful. He will provide for our every need. Always. (But not always in the way that we want.) When we have this perspective, we can boldly approach Him with every one of our concerns… and even the things we want. But then we need to leave those concerns in His capable hands. This surrender to God’s will is beautiful, but sometimes really hard to do.

  2. Thanks Janice. This is the most helpful perspective that I have had in a while on worry. I am challenged to face whatever fears drive the worry and try to let go a little more. I think I will keep this on my desktop for a while and ruminate on it.

  3. I love it when the realization is God is bigger and more loving than I thought. It makes me then wonder why I kept Him so small, when He is over the top…

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