God doesn’t answer scared prayers. I heard somebody say that one time. Quoting a kid from the backwaters of Missouri, they mimicked his accent and it came out this way. God don’t answer skeert prayers.

There’s some truth in that for sure. Prayers of faith are what move mountains. Prayers of faith are what please God. And you can’t pray in faith and be skeert at the same time.

That’s why Jesus said, “Fear not. Only believe.” Because skeert, if we let it run loose, will chase away faith. So skeert’s gotta go. And if backwater boy is right, it has to go before we can get God’s ear… which means when it comes to getting rid of skeert, we are on our own. We must somehow wrestle the thing into submission, hog-tie it, and pitch it off the property all by our lonesome.

Problem is, fear’s a slippery critter. Sometimes the best we can do is back it into a corner, throw a sheet over it, and pray loud enough so that maybe God won’t hear it bumping around behind us.

That never works, though. God always knows it when fear is there and (this is where the young Missourian theologian missed it) He comes to our aid. He, quite literally, gives us a hand.

I was reminded of that this morning because—I’ll admit it—when I started to pray skeert was thumping around in my prayer closet making all kinds of racket. I didn’t want it there. I’d swatted at it with my Bible and waved scriptures at it to shoo it away. But still it circled around and pecked at me like an old crow. What are you going to do about this? What’s going to happen about that? What if God doesn’t come through this time? Caw. Caw. Caw.

Refusing to entertain such questions, I prayed on. I thanked God for His faithfulness. Rehearsed His countless blessings in my life. Sang about His precious blood and proclaimed His unfailing promises.

He heard me, too, and He responded. He answered me not with a rebuke but with a gentle reminder that as I stood praying Someone was holding my hand. He showed me that hand, gripping mine with a tender strength that said, I will never let go. Then He let me see in its palm the ragged scars left by a Roman nail.

Pondering that nail print, tears of relief flowed and I heard ringing out within me most beautiful question ever asked in Scripture. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

This morning, Perfect Love held my hand and fear fled.

Since then I’ve been thinking about another disciple who, like me, got skeert one day a couple of thousand years ago. Unlike me, he was walking on water at the time and “when he saw that the wind was boisterous…and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him… (Matt. 14:30-31).

Much like that disciple, I was saved from fear today by the hand of my Lord. It was not a flesh and blood hand that I could see and hang onto like he did. No, it was a hand even more faith-inspiring and fear-defeating than that one. The hand that reached out for me bore the mark of the cross.