“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
When we think about prayer, most of the time we see it as seeking to get things from God. In our minds, prayer is mostly about talking to God and trying to talk Him into giving us the things that we think we need.
There is no doubt that asking God for things is very much a vital part of prayer – but if we see prayer as only getting things from God, we are missing much of what prayer brings to us.
This famous verse teaches us that there is much more to prayer than just seeking God for His answers…
Anxious for nothing
There’s little doubt that anxiety has reached epidemic proportions in our society. Many people live in a constant swell of fear and dread that surrounds and bombards their souls. I’ll bet you know of someone (maybe in your own family) who struggles mightily with fear and anxiety. Maybe that someone is… you!
The question is: what causes anxiety?
In very simple terms, anxiety comes when we look at our situation around us and see ourselves as insufficient. We are face to face with something which causes us to feel inadequate or incapable, and we are overcome with thoughts of weakness – we feel threatened, unsafe, and fearful. Anxiety (and it’s first cousin, worry) leads us to an overwhelming need for self-preservation – which causes most anxious people to turn inward… or to withdraw to whatever “safe zones” they can find… or create. But running or hiding is hardly a solution to the problem.
The Bible has some interesting things to say about anxiety. The very word itself means: “to be drawn in opposite directions; divided into parts; or to be pulled in pieces.” No wonder anxiety can cause us such problems. When we do not feel strong, all-together, or stable – when we do not feel we are adequate enough to face what is in front of us – we are prone to be overcome with dreadful doubt and fear.
It is quite interesting that the apostle recognizes this all-too-human condition and gives us a powerful solution to our problem. He is inspired to command us: “Do not be anxious about anything.” Why? Because Almighty God is with you. He is walking with you, living within you – and though your circumstances may make you feel like you are not enough… He is! He always is!
I find it fascinating that whenever God shows up in the Bible, the first thing He has to do is quell our fear. THAT is the first thing on His Mind. Put us at ease. Assuage our feelings of inadequacy in His Presence. We must remember, He does not show up to fill us with fear… but with hope! So His first words are… “Do not be afraid!”
Let’s recognize anxiety and worry for what it really is… it is fear! It is the overwhelming sensation of our own inadequacy in the midst of life’s pressing or pressuring moments.
The solution to fear is never to run and hide… but to run to the One Who loves us and reminds us that in His Presence: “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (1John 4:18)
The apostle’s solution in Philippians 4:6 is to command us to turn our eyes away from what is making us feel worried or anxious… and turn our eyes TO the One Who seeks to remind us that He is always with us… and He has given us an eternal promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us!
You and I may not be enough… but you and I plus God result in a “can’t lose scenario.” As people of faith, we choose not to focus on our weakness OR the size of the problems we are facing – we deliberately choose to SEE that God is with us!
And in so choosing, our anxiety melts away in the power of His love!