“Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7
Twenty-one years ago, I stood next to a new crib watching our first son sleep peacefully. It was close to midnight, and I was exhausted, but I simply could not rest. I was terrified that while I slept, something would happen to him. I remember being annoyed that my husband could go to sleep with no trouble at all. How could he sleep knowing that something terrible might happen? During a period of about six months, I was a mess. I cried during the day out of anxiety, and my sleep was interrupted by episodes of panic. But one day our pastor shared this verse with me, and it transformed my life. You see, I had spent a good portion of my life worrying. My new son was just one more reason to be anxious. I worried about finances, my health, my future, my job, you name it. All this changed when I began to put this verse into practice.
In this verse we are told not to be “anxious about anything.” That’s right. Anything. Anxiety is useless, as Jesus reminded his disciples time and again. And since we are told NOT to be anxious or worry, this indicates that it is a choice on our part. When we choose anxiety, we are telling God that we simply do not trust Him to handle our problems and fears.
Secondly, He wants us to come to him with our concerns, “tell your requests to God.” Are you worried about your marriage? Tell Him. Are you anxious about your job? Tell Him. Is a family member sick? Tell Him. You have a choice every moment of every day: to worry or to pray. It’s really that simple. Praying instead of worrying is an act of faith. When we pray and tell our troubles to God, we are demonstrating our belief in his ability to handle it.
Finally, when we pray and present our requests to him, we are given “the peace of God….which will guard our hearts and minds.” When we dwell on thoughts of fear and anxiety, it affects our actions, words, and emotions. But God offers us peace. How foolish of us to choose panic, stress, and anxiety instead. Why worry when you can pray?