June 5, 2020
Last week I was waiting at a light and watched a line of seven cars turn left onto the road I was on. As I looked through the window of each car as they drove by, I saw one person who was yelling at the car in front of them, another was screaming into their phone, and yet another chewing out the person sitting next to them. I could see a common trait in every single car: stress! They had maxed out. It was obvious that not one of them was living in peace at the moment. I actually felt sad for a few minutes as I thought about how miserable they must be!
How about you? Have you found yourself in need of some peace lately? Does anxiety seem to sneak up on you out of nowhere, to where you snap in anger or react with worry? God’s plan is that you would live in His peace. That’s why God has commanded us not to be anxious and has given us a road map for how to experience His peace.
The apostle Paul says it this way:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
There is no exception given for anxiety in this passage or anywhere else in the Bible. It makes you wonder then why stress is still so common, even for Christians who strive to obey God’s word.
I would suggest that our struggle to overcome stress and anxiety is directly linked to how we pray. Paul guides us to pray with a few instructions here that he promises will welcome the peace of God. I’m going to break them down in a way that I hope will help you experience greater peace right now! Here it is:
1. Slow down. Paul says “do not be anxious about anything”. This seems like an impossible task until you recognize that he’s not adding something to your “checklist”! He’s inviting you to a different way of life, and even a different approach to prayer. The reason we often live anxiously is that we also pray anxiously! This anxiety-free living is not about being lazy, it’s about being still. When you take time in your day to be still and know that He is God, it will bring peace to every part of your life, including prayer.
2. Speak up. Paul then reminds us to do everything with prayer and petition. In other words, talk to God about the concerns in your life, and ask him to do something specific. This is distinctly different from whining! This is about really contending for the concerns of your heart to be fulfilled by the hand of almighty God! When you speak up directly in prayer, then you can wait with faith and hope in the living God who answers prayer!
3. Show gratitude. Paul calls us to do all of this with thanksgiving. It’s about having gratitude that truly changes our attitude and our thinking. When we become thankful people, it naturally produces peace! In fact, it’s not your ordinary peace that arrives, but the peace of God that transcends all understanding.
Let’s be people who defeat anxiety these days! As we respond to stress in these three ways, it will make a huge difference in your heart and mind. This week let’s purpose to slow down our lifestyle, speak up in prayer, and show gratitude in everything. You can be confident that God will fulfill His promise and give you His peace.