Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Worry has always been a reality of human life since the fall of mankind. God did not create us originally with the intention that we should worry, that we should bother ourselves with things too great for us, that we should become obsessed over the future and the many bad scenarios that play in our heads. Worry is a foreign invader to our spirits, an alien concept that has come int our hearts to rob us of peace.
Worry feeds almost every evil thought and inspires us to every evil action. Before envy destroys our relationships and drives a wedge of suspicion and hatred between friendship, worry was already there, feeding our insecurities. Before hatred and animosity, came fear and worry. Before lust and pride surface in our hearts, worry showed up creating our personal feelings of insecurity, influencing us to grasp at worldy things to ward off the uncomfortable fears. Depression, doubt, anger, hardness of heart, meanness of spirit, cruelty – Worry came before all of these, and in some measure, whether great or small, worry helps lay the foundation of much evil in our heart and lives.
Of course, we must deal with reality, and in someway worry comes from living in today’s world. But the heart of worry and fear is the lack of confidence in God. It is one thing to deal with reality, to write down your responsibilities, to consider the results of inaction, and to prepare for bad scenarios. It is another thing to do this in a helpless spirit, without God and without prayer to support us.
The antidote for worry is faith, simple trust in God. It is when the steadfastness of God is absent from our hearts that worry sets in. If we can keep Him in the forefront, if we can, like a sheep, trust in our Shepherd we can have fearless souls and confidence in all of life. Christ said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1). Every time worry raises its ugly head in our lives, every time insecurity plants suspicion and doubt, focus on Christ. Think of Him and trust in Him.
Prayer is not only a means to bring our requests to God – and we can never lose this basic reality of prayer, for the word “prayer” literally means “to ask” – but prayer also is a therapeutic tool in God’s hand to minister to our souls. I am quick to say that prayer is not only a therapeutic tool, that it is a real communication with the living God, bringing our requests to Him. God listens and hears and invites us to come and ask of Him. And because it is genuine communication with our God, it also has therapeutic value for our hearts. We think better, we feel better, we live better when we pray much.
Praying through our worries means that we begin with confidence in God, to acknowledge Him as the Almighty Father, the Alpha and Omega, the Creator and Sustainer, our Redeemer and Savior, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, the Resurrection and the Life. Then we thank Him for what He has done. God, of course, knows what He has done for us, but we often forget, and thanksgiving is helpful to our souls because it reminds us of the truth that God is able to take care of us, that He has done so in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.
Then take the matters on our hearts to Him in prayer. I have found that we often pray too shallowly, that we tend to ask only for what we think should be done, or what result we would like to see. For example, the doubter and worldling in us will ask for money, whereas the deeper work of God in our souls will lead us to ask God for contentment.
Many requests we make are for temporary deliverance from trouble or to meet a specific need – for healing from a disease, for rescue from a problem, for grace and favor in life. We should not abandon this type of praying for Christ taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11). We on this earth always have the perspective of our here, of physical and material needs. God invites us to take these needs to Him in prayer. “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2b).
But the greater need of our hearts and of our lives, even of our world and of our loved ones, is always for the new life in Christ to take root in our souls. Requests anchored to the material world go unanswered by God because we ask with evil intent in our hearts. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Christ taught us in the Model Prayer to not only ask for daily bread, or to even let those genuine physical needs to dominate our prayer. He placed the emphasis on spiritual needs, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:12-13). Two-thirds of the requests He taught us to make of God have to do with spiritual needs: receiving forgiveness from God, offering forgiveness to others, guide in life to make wise decisions – and this means a change of our hearts and perspectives – and deliverance from evil.
Take all of these requests. Do not merely pray for more money, but pray for the character and maturity you need to handle more money. Do not merely pray for healing, but pray also for fearlessness and faith in your soul and for the maturity to deserve more years of life on this earth to bear fruit for Christ. And we can also pray this way for our loved ones as well.
As a father I have sat nervously on edge through many of our children’s sporting events praying that they would have a good game, that they would make a good play, score a goal, stop the other team from scoring, etc. There is nothing wrong with these prayers because they were offered from a desire that our children would gain confidence in life. But there was something shallow about them. I have learned also to pray the deeper prayers – that our children will learn how to handle defeat, how to react to unfairness in life, that they will be unselfish in their play, and that they will be gracious in victory.
Take all of your requests to God – pray for the immediate felt needs as well as the deeper and more profound ones that you know are there. Then expect God to guard your heart. You have done your duty. You have taken the matter to God. Wait for His answer and obey Him in what He tells you to do. Leave the matter with Him and worry about it no more. Let Him answer it according to His knowledge and His will and His wisdom.Then God will give you His peace to guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.