Turn Anxiety

“Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

Paul’s teaching “Don’t fret or worry” seems unrealistic.  Who among us has gone even one day without worrying about something?  Some weeks it feels like we are bombarded with bad news.

There is news of an unexpected death, terrorist attacks, hearing bigoted talk, political hackers, religious extremists, local crime, finances, a health crisis, etc. What raises your anxiety level? How about that list of things that make people anxious?

I have learned that anxiety is contagious and that when we are driven by our anxiety, we tend to see the world differently.  We begin to make our decisions based upon fear. A scarcity mindset takes over and we focus on needs, problems, and shortages rather than the great goodness of God.

Think about that for a moment.

What do you do when you are worried? Your concerns may be about a loved one, your health, your financial security, some worthwhile project you are working on, a terrorist attack, global warming, your own failures and shortcomings, or your imagination going wild. Whatever the situation, worry breeds anxiety.

Paul reminds us to “Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.”  In other words, turn your anxiety into prayer.

The one place we do not have to be anxious is the church.  I know these can be anxious times. As Christians we are focused on the covenant God who is with us, for us, and working for our good.  We are focused on the Creator of the universe who provides for all our needs.  We are focused on the God we can depend on to provide for us and to see us through any point of crisis or anxiety.

When we turn our anxiety into prayer, Paul writes, “Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life”

So let’s try it.  What raises your anxiety level? Take a moment to hold it before God in prayer remembering Paul’s words, “Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.”  Maybe your prayer could be something like this:

O God, I confess to you my anxiety over (name your concern). I place my anxiety in your hands.  Trusting your direction, I offer myself to you. I am grateful for your goodness. In the name of Jesus!  Thank you!  Amen.

I pray that your anxiety will become your praise for God’s glory and your good.

So let it be!

-Tim Bias

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