(This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on Philippians 4.)
Dear PRCW members and readers: “What are you worried about?” This is a question we may ask each other as the worry wrinkles crease across our faces. There are many things that could make us feel worried. We can be afraid of the future as we ask the question: “what’s in store for me?” We can worry about our relationships as we wonder if people are going to reject us in some ways. We can worry about the next generation: “How are my grandchildren going to deal with the troubles that are brewing in today’s culture?” We can be worried about the health of our loved ones: “Are they going to die?” We can be worried about every day things as well: “Are my children going to make it through school ok during this lockdown?” “Is my teenager going to be safe for the first time behind the wheel of the car?”
A theme in the Sermon on the Mount is the folly of worry (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus confronts all that because it is sinful to worry. “Are you not more valuable than the birds of the air – who have everything from your heavenly Father?” “Therefore do not worry….”
How can we be delivered from anxiety? What is the solution to anxiety? Is it to start singing “Don’t worry be happy!”? “Que sere sere, whatever will be will be”? Or is the answer to think more positively? You know, have positive thoughts? Or is the answer to just say to yourself: “stop it”? “Stop worrying and fretting!” A little self therapy and such pep talk may have their place. But none of these things are what Philippians 4:6, 7 say. Instead, we’re commanded: “to be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, let our requests be made known to God.”
The prescription is prayer.
Prayer, simply put, is talking to our heavenly Father. Prayer is a holy connection, a quiet time at God’s feet. In prayer, we acknowledge that we depend on God. Prayer is the means of sustaining our faith when we grow weak. We pray because we expect to be heard. We pray trusting that the Lord will help us.
This is not just a worn out statement, as if to say “ah yes, we should pray!” In other words, it is not enough occasionally to say a prayer. It’s not enough for a child to pray: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” “God bless this food for Jesus sake Amen.” That’s not enough for a child let alone an adult. Instead we should pray about everything – by prayer, with supplication, and thanksgiving and with requests. The Bible says, “Cast all your anxieties on the Lord” (1 Peter 5:7). Paul is talking about the careful patient spreading out of our needs before the Lord – letting Him know about our anxieties. Life is made up of small things, trials of all sorts and sizes. God knows all the details about our lives. That’s what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount.
We’re not to worry about the things which we cannot control – over which we have no power. Jesus is saying to us, before we start worrying, we are to saying to ourselves: “Now if I worry about this, is anything going to change?” We have to learn to trust our Father. We have to say to ourselves like the psalmist – “Why are you cast down O my soul?” This is like saying to yourself: “Soul, it’s beyond your control. Put your faith in God”Therefore we should not be cutting ourselves off from Him. We’re to cast our burdens on the Lord with assurance that He will sustain us.
And with that, Philippians 4:7 says, “The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” God’s peace will be with us.
It is a wonderful blessing that God is a God of peace. You can come to Him and He is always peace. There are no obsessions in the Lord. There are no tensions or anxieties. There is peace – a calming peace. You are in a world full of trouble where it is so easy to get caught up in the trouble and anxiety. But remember we are from the heavenly city – Jerusalem. We’re heavenly citizens and this brings us peace.
Our minds need God’s constant peace. And they can be sanctified by prayer. And our hearts will be directed in the right way, as well, through Christ Jesus. The Lord takes our problems to Himself, and in exchange He gives us His own immeasurable peace. All our troubles do not fret Him in any way at all. He takes them all to Himself. He can cope and He gives us peace.
This is what Christian attitudes are about: having our thinking and our hearts constantly changed by the Lord. Let us therefore allow the Lord’s Spirit to change these attitudes within us.
In Christ, Pastor Rich Anjema