Why do I feel Guilt, Shame, and Anxiety when I read the Bible?

“I have spoken these things to you so that in Me you may have peace1” Jesus.

I was teaching in a local prison recently to a group of women. Some of these inmates had been in prison for years and some for just a few months. The scripture we read was this:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

I asked the question, “Do you love Jesus?” Every hand went up immediately. I felt compassion for them as I knew these ladies were at the bottom of the pit of despair for their lives. I couldn’t even give them soap to wash their clothes because of previous suicidal attempts through ingesting laundry detergent. The last thing I wanted to do was to put a burden on them to follow commands or rules. As I was walking in the prison gates earlier that day, I asked the warden if he had seen a change in the prisoners since many had accepted Christ and were reading the Bible. He responded, “yes, less fights, less suicide attempts but as soon as they get out of here, they are right back to their lives of sin.” We know a few exceptions to this statement he made that day but for the most part, he was right.

Teaching in the local prison. Prisoners rotate through each week so we typically only meet once every 4 months. This picture is purposely blurred. Please do not share.

Therefore, on this day, I knew we had to begin discipling these ladies, teaching them to follow all of Jesus’ commands as he told us to do (Matthew 28:20).

This reminded me of the time I was in the midst of anxiety and tried to find comfort in his Word. But it seemed every sentence I read made me feel guilty and increased my anxiety. What was wrong that I couldn’t find comfort in His Words? How could I be comforted by the command “If you have 2 shirts, give one away” (Luke 3:11)? All I would think was God have you seen my closet? Or the burden I felt when I read “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Take up my cross? It almost felt like the pain I was going through He was saying that I just needed to toss on my back and walk forward. But such a weight to carry!! I knew He never intended for me to feel that weight as I knew Jesus promised this:

“For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:30).

That is when He spoke to me in the quiet, dark, space of my prayer closet. Where it had been silent for days and days before with just my anxious thoughts to bear! Finally, His sweet whisper came with such power. The answer had been in front of me all along. It was how he taught us to pray but it sounded so simple and I had used it in ritual prayers but had never understood the depth of its meaning nor the diamond it truly was when applied to every piece of His Word and of my life:

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:10.

At that point, after silence and awe, my mouth opened up with a prayer similar to this. “Your way and how you want it, not my way, your way of seeing it, not my way, your perspective not mine. Your will, your way. I am not you Jesus, I am not Paul, I am not my preacher, I am not a Khmer first-generation believer, and I am not Lottie Moon, I am Ann and you know me. Therefore, Your way in me; it will be different than it is in them. It will look so different and that is your plan. I trust that what you want is better. I surrender to you every command and every part of my life, my thinking, my attitude, my rest.”

That was the beginning of healing. Now, applying that concept to every piece of my life from the verses in the Bible to my feelings and thoughts, every day was for me to do but just like He promised His burden is light.

This is why, fellow believers, we must pray continuously. He can change it all but we have to let Him in. He will not push and shove His way into each part of our lives, we must surrender them but the surrender is sweet and the result is peace. In the next post, let us take on some of Jesus’ teaching which many find hard to swallow. I will apply what I will call the surrender prayer to verses that many find hard to swallow.

In summary, getting what we want or doing things our way, will never lead to happiness, peace, or fulfillment but it’s through surrender to Him, to His commands, that He fills those needs in our lives.

Previous post: https://acoffeewithfriends.com/2022/12/09/its-essential-no-jesus-no-peace/

Next post: Jesus’ Teachings: From Anxiety To Peace

Please share your thoughts and feelings about this post! Comment here or email me contact@acoffeewithfriends

  1. John 16:33

3 Comments on “Why do I feel Guilt, Shame, and Anxiety when I read the Bible?

    • When we got back from Cambodia I began pastoring a church in our local association. It lasted 6 month and ended with me resigning, having anxiety and panic attacks and battling depression. I had not gone through anything like this since becoming a Christian. I found myself in a dark place and far from God.

      That was two years ago. The Lord has been teaching me much about walking with Him during the desert season. Your blog was encouraging and enlightening. I look forward to reading more!

      God bless you guys and the ministry! Miss y’all! Go Big Orange! GBO 🍊 VFL!


  1. Pingback: Why do I feel Guilt, Shame, and Anxiety when I read the Bible? – followingjesusdaily

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