Anxiety is one of the greatest struggles in our lives. Anxiety is a thief. It robs our peace, our mind, our health, our joy. We live in a worry-ridden world and frequently we get into this worry-trap, but never get out from it. What is the source of this anxiety? How can we eliminate it? Many people don’t have a purpose in their lives. They don’t know why they are here, where they are going, and everything seems to be an accident in this life. There is a certain cosmic fear to be dangling in an inexplicable universe. If we live a life without faith, without God, we are going to be lost in a anxiety-filled world.
The word “anxious” is coming from the Greek word (μεριμνάω) merimnáō. It means ‘to drawn in opposite directions’ or ‘to pulled apart in different directions’. Anxiety is when your mind is divided between legitimate thoughts and destructive thoughts. Anxiety takes your mind in different directions.
Worry is a pretty deadly thing. You may start with just a little worry and it can engulf your whole life. The very best the world can offer is to help manage your anxiety -you take a course, go to a seminar, listen to a lecture, buy a DVD on stress management, cognitive behavior therapy, or a long list of drugs. Now, Paul comes along and says, “I’m not going to teach you how to manage your stress, I will teach you how to eliminate it.” As Christians we have to deal with this enemy, and Paul lays out a radical truth on solving this problem in his letter to Philippians in chapter 4.
Paul starts this chapter with a strong admonition to the believers: ‘Stand firm in the Lord”. That means be spiritually stable, don’t be like those who are tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine. Don’t be like a double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways, wavering like the sea (James 1:8). Be firm, be strong, be stable in the Lord, and that’s the point Paul is after.
The Lord is near. 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:5b-7
It is a commandment from Apostle Paul to the Church in Philippi; it’s a strong language. Paul is saying that ‘be confident in the Lord, be steadfast in your faith in Him, His presence is with you. So, don’t worry about anything.” We see in Scripture the Lord Jesus also spoke the same words, “Don’t worry, don’t be anxious” (Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:25-27).
The four-fold approach
The cure for the anxiety is to cast them all upon God. In verse 6 to 7, Paul presents a four-fold approach to prayer in overcoming anxiety. “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. Here is the antidote to worry, the relief from anxiety – Prayer.
Pay attention to the four words Paul uses in this sentence: Prayer, Supplication, Thanksgiving, and Requests. These are not the synonyms for prayer, they have different meanings under the surface. The four Greek words are: proseuché, deésis, eucharistia and aitéma.
- proseuché – Prayer (Worship)
This is a general word used in the New Testament that often translated as ‘worship’. It has a prefix (pros = toward or immediately before) and a suffix (euchomai = to pray or vow). The prefix (pros) conveys the idea of adoration, devotion, and worship. When you first enter into the throne room to meet your God to cast out your burden, the first thing is to worship Him; you bow down before Him. Christ Himself instruct us to begin with reverence, an upward focus of worship – “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done” – First you seek His face before you seek His hand (See ‘Face Time With God’
), and then you cast your worries.
- deésis – Supplication
This indicates a heart-felt petition, a strong begging, and an emotional urgency. You cry out to God with your emotions. i.e. “O’ God! Help me please!” Your are completely broken, humbled and persistent in your request to God while acknowledging your total reliance upon divine help, and acknowledging the power of God.
- eucharistia – Thanksgiving
It’s where we get the word “Eucharist” from. Instead of crying out to God in your difficulty with doubt, with questionings, with dissatisfaction, with discontent, you cry out to God with thanksgiving. Because, God is faithful and He never violates His promises. God has promised that nothing is ever going to come in our life that’s too much for us to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). So, thankful for His provision, promises, deliverance and His character. If God gave you life, and He did, if God redeemed you and He did, if God has a purpose for your life and He does, then He will provide what you need to survive.
- aitéma – Requests
Now you ask, you lay down your requests before God. Be specific in your requests (“be made known”). It’s not that generic “God Bless me” requests. Tell Him exactly what you need. Now, God does not need to be informed of your needs, for He knows them even before you ask (Mat 6:8). God’s knowing is accompanied by His desiring to meet our need. God is eagerly waiting to supply our needs according to His will, when we voice our weaknesses and our dependency upon Him. We must ask God to give us grace to enjoy His will in our lives in every circumstances.
“The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When a believer comes to the faith in Christ, he will have the ‘Peace with God’. Now the war is over and he is reconciled to God. However, not necessarily, every believer experiences the ‘Peace of God’. The ‘Peace with God’ is a fact and the ‘Peace of God’ is a feeling. And, that tranquility, that inner calm in the midst of the difficulty, surpasses all human understanding, all human analysis and transcends any human ability to explain. This peace, only comes from above, will guard your heart and your mind from dividing. It doesn’t say that when you pray God will answer it the way you want. It says whatever the answer may be God will give you the spiritual stability – the peace.
We must understand that we are fallen people live in a fallen world which is cursed. There are manifestations of that fallenness all over the planet. I myself bear the mark of that curse in my own flesh. We won’t find tranquility in this cosmic plane, and in John 16:33, Christ guarantees “In this world you have tribulation” but commands believers to “take courage”. I can find my peace from God as I entrust everything confidently into His care. “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3). That is the solution to the problem.
The knowledge of God is essential in spiritual stability. The Scripture is the revelation of God so that in knowing Scripture, we know God. In knowing God, we can know how He is working in our lives for His purpose. When we understand the sovereignty of God and His purpose in our lives for His glory and for our good, and when we understand that He is in control of everything in our lives and nothing is beyond His control, and He orchestrates everything for His eternal purpose, then we can confidently rest in God’s immutable character and be stable in the most serious times.
The Psalmist extols God as the strong protector and emphasizes his faithfulness in many of his writings. He writes, “In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In Your righteousness deliver me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength. Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth” (Psalm 31:1-5). That confident faith is the bottom line in our ability to deal with life difficulties. Is this easy? Not at all, but it’s a process.
❝ What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear. And what a privilege to carry, Everything to God in prayer. Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer. ❞