“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.” – Philippians 4:6-7
This is one of those verses that sounds so easy, but when you think about it for a moment it’s so so difficult.
Anxiety is a huge issue for many of us, not only is there the everyday life stuff to worry about like school, work or relationships, but there’s also things like Brexit, Trump and global warming. Sometimes it can feel like we just have to pick what thing to be anxious about that day from a list of thousands.
However there are countless verses in scripture that tell us not to worry or be anxious. Does that mean that to be anxious or worried is un-Christian of us? Absolutely not! I think the reason that the bible is filled with verses about anxiety is because God knows us humans, he knew we would be anxious sometimes so he wanted to give us a way out when it happens.
So let’s look at this verse together…
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6-9
Yes it does start with “Do not be anxious” but the reason for that is that Paul is offering an alternative to worrying. He’s not saying “just ignore all the bad stuff that’s happening.” He was in prison when he was writing this, suffering greatly!
He says instead of worrying or ignoring the problems, PRAY about them “with thanksgiving” which means being grateful for what you already have whilst offering up your concerns to God.
This is is something that gets used in therapy today for those suffering with anxiety, to stop and list everything your thankful for even if some days it’s just your bed.
Paul knew what was up even 2000 years ago!
The next bit goes on to tell us what will happen when we pray…
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Interestingly it doesn’t say the peace of God will take away all your problems. Paul knew this wasn’t true, after all he was still in prison. Instead he says it will guard our hearts and minds. It will protect us from anxiety, because the peace of God comes from knowing He is in control and that we are safe in Christ Jesus. I like to think of it as every time I pray I’m giving all my concerns to Jesus for him to hold and in return he gives me a comfy blanket of peace!
So what do we do with all this headspace now that we’ve stopped being anxious, and to make sure anxiety doesn’t start creeping in again?
Paul tells us in the next bit…
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
In short, think about good things. Be positive. Actively seek to fill your mind with good thoughts. If you were worried about school or work, focus on all your achievements in the last year, big or small, think about friends there or good times you’ve had. If you were worried about some of the big stuff like global warming, read some encouraging stories about people who are making a difference, then find your own ways to make a difference.
Once we start allowing God to hold on to our uncontrollable situations it’s amazing how quickly our hands are empty to receive all the good things He has to offer.