Are you a worrier? I dearly loved my mother-in-law but she was a classic worrier. Every time we visited her, she met us at the door with a list of things she was worried about. When Harry and I talked her through the list and explained why she didn’t need to worry about any of those things, she would say, “Well, what am I going to worry about now?” For some people their default position is worry! Maybe they agree with Will Rogers who said, “ I know worrying works because none of the stuff I worried about ever happened!”
But what does the Bible say about worrying? Does the Lord care when our hearts are constantly churning with worry?
In Philippians 4:6 Paul teaches us, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Let’s carefully consider the words of this important teaching.
Do not be anxious… This is a command. It seems so simple and straightforward; but I have found that it is easier said than done. How do I get my anxious heart to give up the tendency to worry? I know I need to obey this command, but my will power alone doesn’t cut it.
Do not be anxious about anything. There are no exceptions, Paul rules them out, don’t be anxious about anything. Nothing, nada. The Lord cares about what is ruling your heart; He doesn’t want you tied up in knots with worry about anything.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation… every single situation? Paul’s instruction embraces everything, the big things and the little things in our hearts. Nothing is too large for our all-powerful God. God is big enough to handle even the tiny things that worry us. Yes, I meant to say that! Sometimes I find it is easier to trust the Lord with the big things than the little things that concern my heart.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer... With these two words, Paul introduces the Lord’s strategy to counteract worry, prayer. He knows our thought life doesn’t operate in a vacuum. If we stop worrying we must replace the worrisome thoughts with other thoughts. The antidote to stop worrying is to turn our thoughts to the Lord in prayer and to trust Him with the situation.
Prayer demonstrates our dependence upon the Lord. Instead of churning with worry over our circumstances, we release the circumstances to the Lord in prayer. I like to picture a ladder. The ladder represents our faith. We take that ladder and lean it on the wall that represents the Lord. Then we climb up on that ladder, lean on the wall and entrust our situation to Him. You may have a lot of faith so you can climb up way high. I may have a little bit of faith so I am only on the first step. But by faith we lean on the Lord, we rely on Him, we put our full weight on Him as we release the situation to Him.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition…. We keep on praying, we keep on leaning, keep on petitioning Him. We persevere in prayer. We keep on releasing the situation whenever worry bubbles up in our heart and lean into Him.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving… this is an important ingredient in our prayer. We thank the Lord for what He has done and for what He has yet to do. We thank Him in advance because He will be there in our future when whatever we are worrying about happens or doesn’t happen. He will not leave us or forsake us now or then. He will be there, so we thank Him.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Prayer, petition and presenting your requests to God are three ways of saying essentially the same thing: pray, pray, pray! Paul can’t emphasize it enough, this is God’s strategy for worry; release your concerns to the Lord through prayer.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It seems too good to be true! God promises that when we worriers release our concerns to Him through prayer, He will give us His peace, His unfathomable peace, to rule and watch over our hearts and minds.
Come to Him today with whatever it is that concerns your heart. Turn to the Lord, lean into Him and release all those worries, large and small. He promises to make an exchange with you, your worries for His deep transcending peace.
Worry or peace? You get to decide; which condition will rule your heart today?
Let us pray…
Lord, We thank you that you care about the condition of our hearts and that you don’t want us consumed with worry about anything. Thank you that in every situation you invite us to turn to You in prayer and thanksgiving. Thank you that your unbelievable peace rules in our hearts when we release our worries to you in prayer. Give us the grace to continually make that choice.