Not that long ago, a Christian asked me to pray for her and the decisions that she was mulling over concerning her career and how it related to her relationship with her God. Her determination to have as her highest priority what God’s Word reveals about his will for her in making these important decisions impressed me greatly. How I wish more professed followers of God would have that same attitude!
Her request got me thinking about prayer and the blessings that it brings to the faithful Christian. All of us can agree that life is difficult at times. Sickness and death, job loss, foreclosures, anxiety over loved ones who face hardships…we experience all these ordeals and more throughout our lives. Dwelling on all these things brings much stress and worry to our hearts and minds. As a result, we become more distressed and discouraged.
What can we do to obtain relief from these burdens and pressures we feel every day? The answer to this question is found in the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7. In these two verses of Scripture he writes: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” From these two brief verses come three principles that will help to alleviate the burdens we bear in life.
First, our Lord through his apostle is telling us that we need to develop the right mindset as we deal with our burdens. Simply put, we are not to be anxious about anything! I know that is easier said than done. However, just think about the wisdom in this command. When was the last time stressing out actually helped the situation? Having anxiety about a matter will not make the situation better nor will it make us feel better. Worry is basically an unproductive emotion. Jesus provides us with a wonderful discourse on this topic in Matthew 6:25-34. I urge you to read this passage. It’s one of the most comforting passages in the entire Bible. In it our Savior tells us we should not worry nor be anxious because God will provide what we need when we need it.
Second, Paul tells us that we need to take all our anxieties and give them over to God in prayer. This makes sense because most certainly God is better able to deal with our anxieties than we are. He can help us in our time of need because he knows what is best for us, and he also has an infinite amount of resources at his disposal to bring us the help we need! Let us also remember that this verse exhorts us to approach God in prayer in a spirit of thanksgiving. During this week when we focus on the holiday of Thanksgiving, let’s not only focus on the turkey, the yams, the dressing, and the pumpkin pie. (I know in my house it will be difficult to think about anything else!) However, let’s also consciously focus on being grateful for having the food in the first place, as well as the roof over our heads and all the other blessings that God gives us that we take for granted. Christians, you especially must focus on the spiritual blessings that come from the heavenly places that are yours simply because you were baptized into Christ (Ephesians 1:3; Romans 6:3-5)! When we pray with gratitude, we can learn the lesson that focusing on being grateful for what God has already done for us assures us he will continue to take care of all our needs.
Finally, God tells us that peace will replace the anxiety we feel if we pray. Not only will peace replace our anxiety, but that peace will continually protect our hearts and minds. All of this is possible for those who take the time to cast their cares upon God. Knowing these truths, we need to ask ourselves why we waste another minute of our lives being anxious, worried, burdened, and overwhelmed. Let us give God the glory in our lives by being filled with joy and peace rather than anxious.