Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. - Psalm 127:1-2
Choosing to throw away our anxious thoughts is hard, mostly because it leaves a void in our brains we need to fill. So what do we fill it with? God tells us that in scripture, too.
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:6-8
Do not be anxious about anything - I love the totality of that statement. It’s not a suggestion for how we should live, or vague in any way. It’s a command - do not be anxious for anything.
Let’s be clear about what anxiety is - it’s that feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety doesn’t come from just thinking about the future, it comes from wanting to control the future. It doesn’t acknowledge that God is sovereign over our life. If we only learned to cast all our anxieties on Him and trust In His plan, we would have so much more peace. I’ve always loved Paul Tripp’s quote about anxiety, “Honestly facing your lack of sovereignty over your own life produces either anxiety or relief. Anxiety is God-forgetting. It is the result of thinking that life is on your shoulders, that it is your job to figure it all out and keep things in order.”
But God knows our hearts so well that He knows just telling some of us not to be anxious can be hard to hear. If we’re the anxious type, we’re most likely do-ers, and our thoughts tend to race, so we need to replace those anxious thoughts with something. For some, even reading “Do not be anxious about anything” can cause anxiety because we don’t know how to stop - we want to obey the command, but we don’t have any idea how, so we end up with anxiety about our anxiety. If you’ve struggled at all with anxiety in your life, then you know being told to just stop being anxious is not helpful, nor does it work.
God knows all that about us, so His Word includes what we are to do instead of being anxious. It’s all in the “but”. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. We are to lay down every one of our fears in prayer before the Lord. When the anxious thoughts come, get on your knees and pray until they’re gone. Rather than feeding the fear, we are to tell God what we think we need and ask Him for it.
We are promised in these verses that if we want to enjoy a life protected from anxiety by God’s peace, then we need to be in prayer. If we want victory over the worry that consumes our thoughts, then we need to be in prayer. If we want to defeat the paralyzing fears, or we want freedom from the havoc that anxiety has brought into our lives ~ addiction, health issues, relationship strife ~ then we need to be in prayer. In everything. We are told to pray about everything. Don’t just go to God in prayer over the big things - take everything to Him. That means we should be in a mindset of prayer, or in a conversation with Him all day long.
I remember being taught fairly recently that there are only two times we should be picking up those anxious thoughts - when we’re in the company of fellow believers, or when we’re in prayer. That’s it. If you’re picking up an anxious thought and you’re not in one of those two situations, put it down. You have no business hanging on to it. Recognize you are in a spiritual battle, and the enemy is given opportunity to find a foothold when we are alone with our anxious thoughts. A foot hold is a place to where someone can securely plant their foot, or a position from where progress can be made. If the anxious thoughts come, get on your knees in prayer or get with a friend.
There are days when I am in constant communication with God because the anxious thoughts are so loud, my prayers are non-stop some days. But I will not pick them up alone anymore - I just don’t do it. I know how to find the peace that surpasses all understanding because He has taught this to me over and over. I lay down my requests to Him and I trust Him completely with my life ~ that’s how His peace replaces all those anxious thoughts.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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