Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.Phil 4:6
There is nothing more prevalent in the age in which we live than the increasing problem of worry. Worry is a powerful force to disintegrate the human personality, leaving us frustrated, puzzled, baffled and bewildered by life. Sometimes you hear the expression:
sick with worry, and anyone who has experienced it knows it is no empty expression. You can be literally sick with worry. Paul's answer to this is a blunt,
Do not be anxious about anything. The entire Word of God is a constant exhortation to believers to stop worrying. It is everywhere forbidden to those who believe in Jesus Christ, and I think one of the most serious areas of unbelief is our failure as Christians to face the problem of worry as sin. Because that is what it is. Worry is not just something everyone does and therefore it must be all right. It is definitely labeled a sin in the scriptures, and the exhortation is everywhere: stop it!
Well you say, this is all very well to say don't worry, but how do you stop it? Every time I try to stop worrying I worry all the more. You can't stop it just by the exercise of will power. Again, that's the secret of running the race — here it is:
In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
I love those words
in every situation. That means there is nothing too small to bring to him. Someone asked,
Is it alright to bring small things before the Lord? Is he concerned about the small things in our lives? The answer is: is there anything that looks big to God? Everything is small to him, so take everything to him in prayer. Prayer is the expression of our dependence upon his promises. It isn't necessarily on your knees, or in the closet, but it can be simply that quiet,
arrow prayer of the heart, in continual recognition that you need to lean back upon his grace and strength in everything, constantly relating to that indwelling life of God the Son in you.
Petition means, keep it up, over and over again. Whenever problems develop lean back again in prayer to the one who is able and competent within you through his indwelling life. Thanksgiving is that forward look of faith that thanks God for the answer before you see it. Knowing his character, you know something — the right thing, the perfect thing — will be done.
God is not saying we should ask for everything we want. Instead, we're to ask for everything we need. Frequently we find ourselves praying for things he never promises. For instance, if you are up against some kind of trial, or some catastrophe strikes in your life, our perfectly understandable, natural human reaction is to say,
Lord, take this away. But God never said he would do that. He does not always want us to have it taken away. Sometimes he will, sometimes not. That kind of prayer must always have appended to it what our Lord prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane,
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.
But there are things for which we can immediately ask, and know that we will receive. His grace, his strength, insight, wisdom, patience, love and compassion. And as we lean back upon him in that inner dependence of faith which is prayer, we can also begin to give thanks that the answer has come, and in our thanksgiving we discover the experience of it as well. So, as in everything where we let our requests be made known to God, the result is peace. The peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I confess, Lord, that I so often prefer worry over prayer. Thank you that you invite me to cast all my cares upon you. I pray that I may learn to do that with a heart of continual thanksgiving.
Are we learning to confess our anxiety as sinful distrust in the character of God? Are we choosing to pray with thanksgiving, affirming our trust in God's wise and faithful care?