Posted July 01, 2013
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.
One thing is certain of human existence: life is full of trouble. With trouble comes stress and anxiety. No money, power, or fame can insulate or exempt us! While Scripture never teaches us that a Christian should encounter less trouble in life (in fact it often teaches just the opposite about Christian living and suffering), it does teach us that anxiety should not be a characteristic of the Christian. A peaceful yet highly anxious person is a contradiction. Peace is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. If suffering is inevitable and yet peace possible in any circumstance, how do we fight anxiety and find peace? In these two verses, Paul teaches us about our role in anxiety and then in turn, God’s role.
We grapple through prayer.
What is the antidote to anxiety & stress? Some might say it’s to simply clear your mind and forget about your problems, “finding your happy place”. While this might alleviate the pain for a moment, it does nothing to deal with the true problem. God calls the Christian to do one thing when trouble and anxiety comes: pray. What sort of requests can we come to God with? Only the “important” requests? Verse 6 is very clear: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication...” Did you hear that? Don’t be anxious about anything, but come to Him in everything. Often we picture God as a busy CEO who is put off by additional requests, but we would do well to learn to picture Him as Jesus taught us: a loving Father who delights when we come to Him! DA Carson said that, “the way to be anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything.”
Not only are we to call out to God in prayer & supplication, but note how we are to pray: with thanksgiving. God does not just care about the ends but the means. He cares how we pray! How can we learn to pray with thanksgiving? In a sermon on this passage, Sam Storms said, “Before you ask God for something new, thank Him for something old.” When was the last time you spent intentional time thanking God? For truths about God (His holiness, beauty, perfections, etc.) as well as things He’s done (redemption, adoption, justification, etc.)? These meditations should cultivate both gratitude in our hearts and increased faith as we come to Him. May we cultivate a life of thankful prayer!
God guards through peace.
Once we come to God, what does He promise us? That His peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. What a beautiful picture... Often anxiety opens us up to fears relentlessly attacking us, and the enemies fiery darts and lies. God’s peace guards us, even when rationally speaking, we should not be peaceful!
Song by Joel Limpic, Latifah Phillips, and Aaron Strumpel.
Production by Latifah Phillips (http://latifahphillips.com/).
Artwork by Jonathan Lindsey.