The Antidote to Anxiety
Read Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
How does prayer and gratitude reduce worry in your own life?
There is no shortage of worrisome, anxiety-inducing issues in this world. If you turn on the news, it seems like the top story every day is a major crisis somewhere in the world. And of course, now we have access to not only the troubling stories of public events, but we can also read the personal sagas of people online. Everywhere we look, there is trouble, danger, division, etc.
But in today’s verse, Paul reveals the antidote. He says we shouldn’t be anxious or worried but instead we should pray. Some may think that is just a simplistic suggestion meant for desperate situations. But it works in any and every circumstance. Paul said not to be anxious about anything.
First, prayer reminds us of our dependence on God. When I am stressed and anxious, it is usually because I feel like I am out of control. But the reality is, we are never in total control! I’m sure you’ve heard people say they feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. I’ve felt that, too. But the reason we feel that way is because we are trying to take on a weight that was never ours to carry. Most of what we worry about is out of our hands. We are trying to control circumstances that we simply cannot control.
Second, prayer helps us focus on who God is. When we meditate on His Word and communicate with Him through prayer, we are reminded that He is the God who created this entire world and nothing in it is outside of His control. He is all-powerful. Your situation is not too great for our great God.
Third, prayer reminds us of His presence. When we pray, we are reminded that “the Lord is near.” His presence dispels our fears. In the beloved Psalm 23, verse 4, David said, “...I will fear no evil, for you are with me...” Just knowing that He is walking through all of this with us can bring immense peace.
But there was another aspect to prayer that Paul prescribed. It is an often overlooked but key ingredient in the antidote to anxiety—thanksgiving! So often, we take our problems to God and that is a good thing! But we forget to also take our praise to God. We should praise Him first and foremost because He is worthy.
Making our requests with thanksgiving acknowledges that God has already given us good gifts. In fact, He has already given us much more than we deserve AND He didn’t give us what we did deserve (death). Listing out our gratitudes in prayer to God changes our perspective. We are reminded that we are already blessed! We are reminded that God has taken care of us before and we can rest assured that He will meet our needs again.
Friends, Paul says that the antidote to anxiety is prayer and thanksgiving. No matter what you are worried about, take it to the Lord in prayer and thank Him for what He’s already done in your life. Rest in the peace that you know He can handle it and replace your anxious attitude for gratitude.
Jesus, You are able to supply my every need. When I feel anxiety start to rise up in me, remind me to take it to You in prayer with gratitude for what You have already done. Thank You for the promise of a peace that will guard my heart and mind in You. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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