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March 11, 2020

Shifting from Worry to Prayer – 21 Days of Peace Day 3

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 4:5-7 (NIV)

Worry is stewing without doing. It immobilizes us with a paralysis of fear. If we are to get going, we must shift our thinking from focusing on the temporal to that which is eternal. The first gear that will give us the traction to win over worry is to shift from fearing the future to praising in the present. Choose to rejoice in all that God has done and is doing as you pray “just for today” prayers. We talked about that yesterday.

Then shift into second gear – shift from worry to prayer. If it’s big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about. The truth is, God cares about whatever you are worried about. That’s why Peter encourages us in 1 Peter 5:7 (Ampl) to, “Cast the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.”  How do you cast all your cares, all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns on God? You make an intentional choice to stop stewing and start doing something. You shift from worry to prayer. Prayer is the antidote to worry! God wired us in a remarkable way that we can’t think about two things at the same time, so exchange your worry for prayer by making every worry a prayer target. As you do, something will happen. You will begin to feel the nearness of God. In both 1 Peter 5:7 and in Philippians 4:5 we read about the presence of God being “near” or “watching” over us. Any parent with small children understands the significance of presence. When our kids are afraid, the thing they desire most is to be with us. Our presence calms their fears and comforts them. Somehow just being there with them drives away the scary monsters under the bed or in the closet. To be honest, I get as much comfort out of that as my children do. They aren’t just asking for what I can give them so much as they are asking for me to be with them. 

Think of how much God delights in our desire for His presence. The best way to calm our anxieties in any situation is to pray for God’s presence to be manifest in our lives.  We all know that God, by very nature, is omnipresent. That theological word just means that God’s essential presence is everywhere. There cannot be a place where God is not present. Yet, what we long for is the manifest presence of God. To feel His presence and know that He is near. I feel God’s presence when I begin to thank God in prayer for always being with me; for never leaving me or forsaking me; for caring about me affectionately and watchfully. This is why Philippians 4:6 encourages us to pray with thanksgiving. When we do, He gives us a peace that passes understanding. It’s a peace beyond comprehension because it is the peace of God.  His peace begins to act like a Roman garrison to protect my heart and my mind from the anxieties that would captivate me in fear and worry. His peace wins the war over worry! 

Have you shifted from worry to prayer?  Read the two passages in this blog again. Philippians 4:5-7 and 1 Peter 5:7. Read them slowly and consider what God may be saying to you today. Then pray them back to God over all the worries that have troubled you. Begin to practice the presence of God’s nearness and experience His peace that transcends all understanding! It will set you free!  

We’ll shift into third gear tomorrow and pick up even greater speed over worry in our lives.