I leaned back in the padded booth and listened to my friend pour out her heart. Between the sounds of barista calls and tea kettles whistles, I could hear hurt, anger, and a bit of wounded pride.
But the one feeling that flavored every word she spoke was anxiety.
Anxiety because something uncomfortable had happened in her life. Anxiety because the situation had not been resolved. Anxiety because she was worried about possible future complications.
I set my coffee down. “Have you prayed about this?”
She stared at me for a moment before she answered. “No. Should I have?”
Her situation wasn’t what we’d call a ‘big’ deal. It wasn’t something anyone would run to put on the church’s prayer list. It was easy to see why praying about it would slip the mind.
What does Paul have to say about this?
Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
The word Paul uses here for anxious is merimnaō. It means to be anxious, to be troubled with cares, and to seek to promote one’s interests.
Considering the fact that many believe the synoptic gospels were not written until after Paul’s letters, it’s interesting that Paul’s writing complements Jesus merimnaō teaching in Matthew 6:25-34 perfectly.
Neither Jesus nor Paul negate the fact that we worry. Anxiety happens. It will keep on happening until Jesus comes to get us. But, they both point us down a practical path of submission as we release our grasp on control and ask God to take over.
1. ► Realize each day has its own problems to deal with. Don’t borrow from tomorrow. Face today’s worry and deal with it. (Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.—Matthew 6:34)
2. ► Agree with God that your internal/external hashing of the situation is useless. (Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?—Matthew 6:27)
3. ► Acknowledge God sees your circumstances. He isn’t surprised by your needs and he already has a plan in place to supply them. (So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.—Matthew 6:31-32)
4. ► Meditate on truths that are bigger than your situation. Jesus and Paul acknowledge we have needs, but they are saying, “Wait! Get your eyes off the problem. Think about this…” (Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?…And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?—Matthew 6:26 & 6:28-30 AND Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.—Philippians 4:8)
5. ► Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, BUT…” The conjunction shows that the prayer and petition precedes the ability to not be anxious. Don’t feel guilty for entering prayer anxious. Present the anxiety to God. Let him know what you need. Thank him for his help. (Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.—Philippians 4:6)
6. ► Let go and rest in God’s peace. (And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:7)
Things to Consider
Do you have a habit of worry or a habit of surrender?
Read the entire text of Matthew 6:25-34
Read a complementary version in Luke 12:22-34
Read the entire text of Philippians 4:6-8
*Written for Pierce Point Community Church blog. See original here.