“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” [Phil 4:6-7]
In this and following blogs, I want to go further in our study of Philippians 4:6-7.
The first thing we learn from these verses is that: Adversity in life is either an inducement to worry, or an invitation to prayer.
Even though we may know this instinctively, worry can be so automatic that prayer is the last thing on our mind. And sometimes just knowing the right answer isn’t enough.
A few years ago I was about to take a flight out of Dallas and I was feeling nervous about the trip. There were some health concerns and travel connections that were troubling me.
In the car, on the way to the airport, I explained to my friend (who was driving me) the matters on my mind. I thought it would help to just talk about my fears out in the open. Unfortunately, I was with one of those dear Christians who was heavy on doctrine but light on compassion.
After I shared my [very real and, I think, legitimate] concerns with him, he glibly rattled off the verse, “Be anxious for nothing…” Instead of a comfort, those words sounded like a dismissing rebuke. He had taken a beautiful verse of Scripture and had shaped it into a dagger.
For some people it’s easier in the face of problems to press “play” on the well-worn tape recording of stock answers in our head, than it is to really apply truth with tenderness and clarity.
When someone is sick and you have the medicine they need, don’t just read them the prescription. Apply the medicine!
My friend was more or less reading me the prescription, which I knew quite well. What I wish he had said was, “Let’s pull over and just tell God about this.” That’s applying the medicine. That’s the remedy prescribed in God’s word.
We will always have adversity to face in this life. At the moment of choice, adversity will either be an inducement to worry, or an invitation to prayer.
To worry is natural, but it’s a habit that can be broken. To pray is supernatural and it’s a habit that must be cultivated. It’s during conflict that the peace of God becomes so real to us.
Peace is not the absence of problems. Peace is the inner persuasion of God’s power in the presence of adversity. The adversity in your life will either be an inducement to worry, or an invitation to prayer.
The choice between those two ways of living is made long before the crisis arises. You can make that choice right now. The way you make that choice is by making thankful supplication the natural pattern of your daily life right now.
Make prayer your first recourse in all situations, not your last resort in a moment of panic. That’s why Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Be anxious for nothing, but pray about everything…”
There are some problems that fall on us like a ton of bricks. We’re so overwhelmed by the crisis that it knocks us to our knees. But during those other times of distress, where the problem isn’t so alarming as it is annoying, it’s then that we’re more likely to worry than to pray.
We’ll consider what this application looks like in our next installment.