As we saw last time, the adversity in our lives 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.
Since we’re more inclined to bring major crises to God in prayer, let’s take a less major situation that occurs in daily life.
Have you ever misplaced your car keys? When I lose my keys (and it doesn’t happen often), the last thing I naturally feel like doing is to pray. I’m proactive! I want to find my keys, not pray about it. And in my logical mind I’m rationalizing, “The more time I spend praying about the keys, the less time I’ll have to actually find the keys.”
But here’s the real issue: When I pray about something as annoying and frivolous as losing my car keys, it doesn’t put the keys into my hands any faster. What it does is far more than that.
When I pray: first, it calms me down; second, it gives me God’s perspective on my problems; and third it reminds me that He’s in control and I’m not… and that’s no small thing.
So, I may be late for a meeting, which for me is a big deal. It’s okay. In the long run, that’s a very small problem for any of us to have. And most people are gracious enough to allow for the little annoyances that define what it means to be human.
Don’t wait for a major crisis to go to God in prayer. Go to Him at all times. Be anxious for what? “Be anxious for nothing, but pray about everything…” Anything big enough to make you anxious is big enough to be a prayer concern.
Sometimes our “worry list” is longer than our “prayer list.” When difficulties arise, we have a choice to make. Because the adversity in your life will either be an inducement to worry, or an invitation to prayer.
The decision you will make when crisis comes your way is being cultivated right now by the patterns and principles that govern your life.
But what about the source of worry? Where does this worry and anxiety come from?
You may be intrigued to learn, as I was, that “worry” is not necessarily an internal condition… at least, not exclusively. It’s also an instrument of external affliction.
Webster defines worry as something imposed from without, “to afflict with mental distress or agitation: to make anxious.” Do those tactics sound familiar?
Based on this definition, it can be seen that worry is oftentimes a choice weapon in the adversary’s arsenal. Satan uses worry to afflict, to distress, to agitate, and to make God’s people anxious.
The enemy doesn’t want you to pray; he wants you to worry. He wants you to spin your wheels and get nowhere. But God says, through the apostle Paul, that the answer is to…
“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.”
Here’s my paraphrase of these verses:
“Don’t worry about anything. Always pray with pleading and thanksgiving and tell God exactly what’s on your heart; and in so doing, God’s marvelous peace will guard your hearts and minds [from Satan’s worrisome afflictions] through Christ Jesus.”
This guarding takes place through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in prayer is a lens which discerns the providence of God through the murky haze of circumstance. The adversity in your life will either be an inducement to worry, or an invitation to prayer.
In the next blog we’ll consider the amazing effect of this kind of thankful prayer!