The Answer to Anxiety

Philippians 4:6-9

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Background:

  • This might be the most quoted portion of Philippians because of its extreme relevance in our lives.  Who doesn’t struggle with worry and anxiety?  We worry about our health, our kids, our finances, our friends, our marriages, our mistakes in the past, and our fears for tomorrow.  (And this list isn’t even close to exhaustive, sometimes I lie in bed and worry about whether I left clothes in the washer.)  So God gives us a clear command about how to handle the concerns of this life.  “The answer to anxiety is prayer. ‘Prayer’ (proseuche) denotes the petitioner’s attitude of mind as worshipful. ‘Petition’ (deesei) denotes prayers as expressions of need.  ‘Thanksgiving’ (eucharistias) should accompany all Christian praying, as the supplicant acknowledges that whatever God sends is for his good.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)
  • God’s answer for anxiety is prayer.  “Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.”  It seems oversimplified, but the truth of these few verses can change our lives in huge ways.  What if we intentionally chose prayer whenever unsettling thoughts creep at the corners of our minds?  What if we started thanking God for all His amazing blessings (clean water, abundant food, people who love us, Jesus’s death on the cross) instead of focusing on the problems?  I know it would radically transform my life.
  • Don’t worry + Prayer + Petition + Thanksgiving = PEACE 
  • God says when we decide to pray instead of worry, He will give us a peace that will guard our heart and our minds – even when it seems like all hope is lost.  “For the peace of God not only suffices but far surpasses human comprehension.  It acts as a sentry to guard the believer’s heart (a biblical symbol for the personality in which the mind resides) and the believer’s thoughts from all anxiety and despair.” (Expositors)
  • Linda Dillow said in her book, Calm My Anxious Heart, that worry is like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.  I have wasted too much of this year worrying – about my daughter’s health, about what others are saying behind my back, about past mistakes, about what the future will hold, about the problems those I love are enduring, and on and on and on.  Let’s start today – choosing prayer, petition, and thanking God while running the race with our eyes fixed on Jesus instead of rocking in the worry chair of life going nowhere.

Application questions:

  • What are you fretting over today? Take some time right now to talk to God about it.  Explain all your fears and concerns.
  • Now tell Him what it is you actually need in this situation.  Leave it in His hands.
  • Think of everything you possibly can to thank God for right now… starting with Jesus’s death and resurrection on your behalf.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat until you have God’ peace.

Prayer:

Adoration: Praise God that He knows our human tendency toward worry and fear.

Confession:  Admit your failure to follow God’s prescription for peace laid out here in Philippians.

Thanksgiving: Think of at least five things that you are grateful for today.

Supplication: Ask God to help you find His peace, His way according to His Word today.

 

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