“There are people who are always anticipating trouble, and in this way they manage to enjoy many sorrows that never really happen to them.” -Josh Billings
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul addresses the timeless human problem of worry.
This is his message: Don’t be anxious about even one thing, but pray in the presence of God all the time about everything and you will be kept safe and secure.
The Greek word for worry means literally to be divide or pulled apart. Worry divides our thoughts and attention. It divides us from the fullness of the present moment. It divides us from attentive engagement with the people around us. Worry divides us from trusting dependence on God.
So Paul admonishes the church – do not worry about anything, literally ‘not even one’. One worry is too much for God’s people.
What’s the alternative? Worry is never appropriate for God’s people, but prayer is always appropriate. Instead of worrying over potential troubles, we can take decisive action.
Bring your requests to God. Paul gives us two ways to do that – the first is prayer, using the Greek word for the prayer of worship and devotion. The second is the dual action of supplication (making requests) and thanksgiving.
The Lord is at hand (verse 5). He knows our needs before we do. He is ready to receive every request – no matter how great or small.
This kind of prayer is appropriate always and everywhere. It’s not just for times of trouble. It should be the continuous experience in our lives, an atmosphere of trusting dependence which makes it very difficult for worry to grow.
There is a wonderful promise built into this. What happens when we stop worrying and pray? When we have done our part, God steps in to do his part.
The God of peace will station the peace of God to stand guard over us.
The Lord is near.
Trust his promise and bring all of your requests to him.
Exchange your worry for the fullness of peace.
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown