Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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
We are going to continue our journey with the goal to “worry less and live more.” We recently explored the impact that rejoicing in the Lord and letting our gentleness, or Christ-likeness, be evident to all has on us. We also explored the importance or knowing and remembering that “the Lord is near,” always. Today we are going to explore the challenge of not being anxious, but instead being at peace. Do you want to be less anxious? Do you want to have more peace? I am going to guess that most of you would like to be less anxious. I am also guessing that most of you would like to have more peace. If so, then today’s scripture reading is for you, and me! Are you ready for less anxiety and more peace?
Today’s scripture reading contains a lot of advice and direction and I thought about several possible starting points. I decided to follow the guidance from a song in “The Sound of Music,” which was my mom’s favorite movie of all time. The song and verse that came to mind is “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” In our case we are not going to start with our abc’s as they did in the song. Instead, we are going to start with “Do not be anxious about anything.” Well that was easy, right? We are just not going to be anxious about anything! Problem solved! Correct?
Unfortunately, in life, as we struggle with anxiety, which often ties into worry, we know that just not doing it is not that easy. It is kind of like trying to stop eating ice cream if you really like ice cream. You say to yourself, I am not going to eat ice cream. Maybe for a while you are successful. Eventually, the day and time will come when you give in and once again eat ice cream. Soon, you are eating more ice cream than you did before you tried to stop eating ice cream! Now this example doesn’t have to be ice cream, so you can fill in the blank with whatever else you have unsuccessfully tried to stop doing on your own. Can any of you relate? If your answer is no, then you may also need to take a lie detectors test!
Fortunately, our advice from Philippians doesn’t stop with just telling us to stop being anxious, about anything! It provides us with more insight and advice. We are to “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Which prompts an important question. Do we do this? Do we ALWAYS come to our Almighty God in prayer and petition, and present our requests to Him, about anything and everything? Do we also come to God, with thanksgiving? If not, than this contributes greatly to why we struggle with being anxious and end up worrying more instead of worrying less. Do you think you can stop being anxious on your own? I know I thought I could stop eating sweets including ice cream on my own, but have found over the years, that on my own I end up failing. How about you? Do you need God’s help?
God knows we need his help, but he also wants our effort in the process. The scripture starts with “Do not be anxious about anything.” We have a role in not being anxious. We are also not asked to stop being anxious on our own. In fact, we can’t stop being anxious on our own. We need God’s power and help, and He wants us to come to Him, daily and ongoing, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, presenting our requests to Him in everything, including our anxiety. I know that was a run on sentence, but it needed to be said! Our only chance to truly win our battle with anxiety and worry is through God! On our own, we are going to eat the ice cream (fill in the blank), or become anxious, again.
Continuing on in Philippians, we are told that God has more advice and good news for us. Not only does God want to help eliminate our anxiety and worry, He wants to replace it with “the peace of God.” This is an amazing gift of peace that can only come from God. This “peace of God” transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. When we receive the gift of “the peace of God,” we are able to replace anxiety with peace in our hearts and minds, and worry less! This also results in our ability to “live more!”
In summary, remember and live the advice given to us in Philippians 4:6-7. Do not be anxious about anything, but instead present your requests to God for His help. When we do this, God will guard our hearts and minds, and give us His peace.
Thank You for giving us the ability to come to You in prayer and petition. We come to You today, asking for Your help with our challenge of too much anxiety and not enough peace. Help us to rely on You for anything and everything, always!
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
In closing, please pray daily for Timothy Lutheran Church, JourneyMen, and your walk with Christ.
Your brother in Christ, Dave Smith
Questions for Self-Examination:
1) What is the difference between anxiety and peace?
2) What do you do in your life to try and eliminate or reduce anxiety?
3) What can God do for your anxiety, and peace?
4) Moving forward, how can you become less anxious, and more at peace?