Destructive anger is all around us: from road rage and online bullying to arguments with friends and family that lead to estrangement. We’ve become so disgusted by the unhealthy anger in the news — like terrorism and insults exchanged between public figures — that we have to remind ourselves of constructive anger as a useful force for solving problems. Anger management, when done wisely, can be a powerful force for positive change. Here’s an example of how to pray for managing anger well:
“Dear God, anger is raging inside of me right now and I need your help to deal with it. Feeling angry is a signal that something is going wrong in my life, so please show me what specific situation is at the root of my anger, so I can pay attention to that situation and understand it from your perspective. Help me remember that anger itself isn’t right or wrong; it’s simply an emotion that you have designed to direct my attention to important issues I should consider. Thank you for your unconditional love that frees me to be completely honest with you about how angry I am, knowing that you care and won’t blame me for struggling with anger.
I know that I face a crucial choice when deciding how to express the anger I feel: either let it come out without self-control, or carefully manage its power. If I don’t try to manage my anger, it will come out in ways that will hurt me and other people, like passive aggressive comments or violent behavior. But if I work with you to manage the anger I feel, the energy of my anger can accomplish constructive goals rather than lead to destructive results. So I commit myself to working with you to figure out the best ways to respond whenever I feel angry.
Help me discern whether or not I can do anything to change the situation that’s making me angry right now. If I can’t actually do anything to change the circumstances, please help me trust you to bring about peace in me and in the situation itself. If there is something practical that I can do to change a situation that angers me, show me clearly what steps I should take, and empower me to take them.
If I’ve already hurt others by expressing my anger in destructive ways, please forgive me and heal the wounds I’ve inflicted on them through my anger. Show me who I can turn to for help overcoming unhealthy patterns of behavior in my life that relate to anger, like losing my temper with my spouse or children. Lead me to a professional counselor, a support group, or a trustworthy and caring friend who can give me the encouragement and accountability I need to change the way I manage anger.
So often, a struggle with anger is linked to a struggle with anxiety. Help me see that I don’t need to be afraid of anything when I trust you to help me handle it. Whenever I notice that my anger is triggered by fear, remind me to pray for your help with the situation. Help me release any anger that won’t lead to constructive goals.
God, I realize that there will always be something or someone who makes me angry in this fallen world. Renew my hope every day that my life can have a significant, positive impact on the world, as long as I channel the energy of my anger about what’s wrong into efforts to do what’s right. Thank you, my loving and powerful God. Amen.”
Whitney Hopler works as Communications Director at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being (CWB) and has written for many media organizations, from About.com to the Washington Post. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and connect with CWB on Twitter and Facebook.