“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 6-7)
I’ve been listening. We’re half way through January, and I’ve been listening to people talking about the coming year. The big trips, the changing of careers, the new studies, the goals and hobbies and moves. Also, I’ve been listening to the fears, the worries, and the anxiety a fresh year brings with fresh challenges.
Honestly, I’m not your expert “worrier”. I’m not usually one to fret and stress and get all tied up in a knot about everything, but If I sit still long enough to think about what is heading my way this year, I could very easily come unhinged. Anxiety looms large, and I want to be preemptive before it gets a stranglehold.
Of course, my heart and my mind and my Christian upbringing yell: “PRAY!” and the verses from Philippians 4 ring in my ears. Okay…
But why does God’s Word tell us we should pray about our “stuff”? If God is sovereign, and I believe He most certainly is, then why bother Him with our requests and worries when He has time and eternity in the palm of His hand, and is already aware what tomorrow will bring?
God knows us. He really knows us intimately. And He knows that we NEED to come to Him. When we come to our loving Heavenly Father in “prayer and petition, with thanksgiving”, we are already shifting focus. It doesn’t say, “come with petitions and requests and demands and shopping lists”. Requests are there, absolutely, but they are surrounded with “thanksgiving” and “prayer”, and this thanksgiving and prayer will surely be our worship; our outpouring of adoration for who Christ is, and what He has done.
“The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ.” Ann Voskamp.
Wise words. To adore (worship, exalt, glorify, honor) Christ, we can’t help but give thanks. And in giving thanks we find joy. Not fluffy, temporary happiness, but deep-rooted joy; a joy that breaks through our anxiety. God knows what we need, and when we are in a place of turmoil and worry and stress, we need to shift our focus from ourselves to Him. And so we pray… yes, with our requests, but in a spirit of thanksgiving, which is for our benefit as well as His glorification.
I don’t wish to minimize the severity of anxiety- I am aware how debilitating it can be, and I know many who live the nightmare. These words might seem simplistic, but I hope they will be encouraging to some- even a springboard, a starting place to hold worries up and lay worries down. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Come. Pray. No need to come unhinged.
When my mind is set on thoughts of Christ, there is very little room for fretting. Allowing anxiety to have free reign and room to run amuck pushes Christ into the recesses when I need Him front and center the most. When I desperately need peace…
“the peace of God … will guard your hearts and your minds…”
Oh, yes please! The love, the joy, the peace- I want it all! Lifting my eyes up, shifting my focus for the year ahead, and adoring Christ. This year, may anxiety be replaced with adoration, and panic be replaced with peace.
One day at a time…