Illustration by Jason Schneider

How can prayer help anxiety?

Prayer helps us get perspective. It’s very interesting that Jesus says, “Give us our daily bread. Help us forgive.” His advice is to imagine yourself as part of something larger. Because anxiety isolates, and you end up feeling so alone. There’s a whole world of us whose earrings don’t match and who haven’t eaten breakfast. My anxiety is not the biggest thing in the universe.

The idea of praying can be intimidating.What’s your advice for getting started?

A common misperception is that prayer means putting words to things. But prayer often has no words. In Psalm 46, the psalmist says, “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s a matter of shutting up. Be quiet, find a safe space, and just be still. I’m not talking about sitting for 20 minutes. I’m a gerbil. I’m talking silence for 30 seconds or a minute. If I remember I forgot to give the dog her medicine, I have a pen and paper nearby, and I can just write “dog.” And then I can try again.

What if someone isn’t a believer?

I have a sister who doesn’t believe that there’s a god. She sits very quietly and she imagines the great cosmos, and she imagines the stars. She looks for the most distant star, and she casts all her cares there.