6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
Anxiety is defined as a displeasing feeling of fear and concern (http://www.reference.com/browse/anxiety). We are told to not be anxious but God knows that there are concerns in our lives that we will be tempted to be anxious about. For this reason he gives us an out:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1Peter 5:7
God says that He’ll handle it, so we don’t have to. We don’t have to control our circumstances, we just have to surrender our problems. And let me tell you, it takes a measure of humility to release control of situations.
Let’s look at the definition of anxiety again. It is a “displeasing feeling“. Feelings come from our hearts.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9
The reason why the heart is deceitful is because our heart’s feelings depend on the thoughts we nurse in our hearts. Our heart condition depends on what thoughts are there at the moment, and these thoughts are not always true and are rarely consistent! (It follows that we need to take control of our thoughts and I blogged about that recently here.)
Furthermore, the definition of anxiety talks about “fear” and “concern”. When you allow yourself to be fearful, it prevents you from being faithful. God never gave us unholy fear as a gift.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7
Further, we sometimes concern ourselves over situations that we can honestly do nothing about. God has already said to cast your anxiety on him and after you do that you should try not to take it back. God asks us to be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10). When we let go and we acknowledge that God is God, we acknowledge His promises can only be the truth and that He cares for us in the best way possible and He will take care of our situations when we cannot.
The study verses also say that the alternative to being anxious is to pray and petition. Prayer is the way we talk to God (and the way we listen to God – a conversation has two sides after all). I believe one of the most direct petitions we can make is to ask for wisdom. The Bible says that once we ask in faith for wisdom, we are guaranteed to get it. Believe it, receive it!
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. – James 1:5-6.
I also found it interesting how the writer describes wavering faith – like a wave of the sea driven and tossed. It’s so true because when we are anxious and fearful and lacking faith, we truly feel like our emotions are all over the place. So we must keep faith while we pray.
God also says that when we feel we are in trouble that we can call upon him and he will deliver us (Psalm 50:15). What we must never forget is that the deliverance will come, but only in God’s time. It’s so easy to give up when you see no change in a situation. You can get so weary and frustrated waiting on God, but you must keep praying and keep your faith alive for the deliverance will come.
Remember you can ask for anything from God (Matt 26:39) but pray that what you are asking for is what you know God wants as well; with wisdom, we will be able to discern what it is God wants, which is why I think that God said when we ask for wisdom we will get it. We need that wisdom to get all our other prayer desires in line with God’s desires and ultimately have our prayers answered.
Faith is not the only element in your prayers. Prayers should always have an element of thanksgiving. There is so much to be thankful for and do not underestimate the effects of an attitude of gratitude. I have had a bout of depression recently and after months of crying, one day I was told by a church friend to just be grateful for everything else that wasn’t bothering me. I went home, sat in silence for an hour, thought about how ridiculous it sounded, but still did it. I can’t tell you how many times I repeated “Thank you God” but I felt this peace just surround me instantly! After the fact I did realize that that was exactly what the Bible said in the study verses above. That peace we receive replaces all the negative emotions, fears, anxiety and whatever other thoughts we had in our hearts and minds. This peace from God guards out hearts and minds by filling our hearts and minds with only holy thoughts and preventing unholy thoughts from getting back in. There’s no space for anxiety, unhappiness and fear when peace is already there!
God’s peace to you,