From Anxiety to Prayer

Pray Church

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Paul comes out against worry and anxiety in the strongest possible terms in this verse. Do not be anxious about anything ever. Through the years I have counseled with people who defended their worry as reasonable, given their circumstances. It seems natural to worry when you don’t have enough, or someone is in danger. I struggle with worry and anxiety as much as anyone. But that doesn’t change what Scripture says of worry. It’s a sin.

What is the silent message we are sending God when we worry? “I don’t think you are as powerful as you say you are.” “I don’t think you love me as much as you say you do.” “I can’t really trust you to take care of me.” Are those attitudes compatible with faith?

And what does our anxiety get us? Unless we consider ulcers, gray hair, and sleepless nights progress, the answer is “nothing.”  “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Jesus asks. Worry only wastes the energy we could be spending serving God or helping others or finding the solution.

Faith that repents of worry and trusts God’s forgiving grace and power looks to replace anxiety with prayers, petitions, and requests to God. It’s not because he is ignorant of our condition and needs to be informed. Don’t picture him in heaven with a giant yellow pad and pen taking notes. “Your grandmother is in ICU? I didn’t know that!”

Nor do we have to talk him into helping us. Look at how many thousands of little details he takes care of for us every day even if we never ask.

In prayer, our Lord invites us to talk to him so that we can take the anxieties and concerns off of our shoulders and hand them to him. Our prayers don’t change him–he never changes. There is not some kind of magical power in the words we are saying, either. But inasmuch as our attention turns to God and his promises to hear and help when we pray, we are changing. We are seeking and finding the help he has promised. Isn’t that experience what has made the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” so popular through the years?

Confident that our Lord is invisibly near to hear us even now, we replace our anxieties with urgent prayers. And confident his visible return is also near, we know a permanent solution to the things that make us worry will follow soon.

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