This time last year, during our Sermon Series on the Sermon on the Mount, we discussed “The Cure for Anxiety”. We learned:
God hasn’t told you that you have nothing to worry about; He told you that there is nothing you should worry about. While there are a lot of things you can worry about, there is nothing you should worry about because God loves us, provides for us, and cares for us so perfectly, that we have no reason to be worried.
What is worry? It has been said: “Worry is a conversation you have with yourself about things you cannot change.” We are told in Philippians 4:6 that we should resist the temptation to worry by converting our worries to prayer. Prayer, in contrast to worry, is a conversation you have with God about the things He can change. In this sermon we shall discuss this vitally important topic and discover that God commands us to not worry, He provides an escape from worry, and He provides a better way than worry.
God Commands Us to Not Worry
Consider verse 6 and let the words “do not be anxious” sink in. Notice that God does not tell you to try to not be anxious, but to not be anxious. He makes it clear that anxiety and worry is not acceptable behavior and exhorts you to not be anxious. In fact, anxiety is a sinful response that must be avoided. Worry is sin because it is not done in faith.
The command is even more extensive when we read: “do not be anxious about anything.” No matter how justified you think you are to be worried, you have no legitimate reason to be anxious. This command is not a burden for us to condemn us for our failure, but a blessing for us. God is not condemning you but encouraging you. God says to you, “I know you are daily tempted to be anxious about many things, but trust Me. This is an opportunity to stop talking to yourself about what you cannot change and start talking to God about what He can. God understands the temptations we all face. Jesus understands our pain and can sympathize with us (Heb 4:15). God allows temptations to come because He wants us to trust Him and grow in grace, knowledge, and truth.
God Provides an Escape from Worry
A common objection to prayer is that it doesn’t matter because no one can change God. Prayer cannot change God, but it can change you. God, in His great mercy, knows we are weak and prone to worry and therefore has graciously provided prayer as a means to soothe the anxious heart. We are told to turn our anxiety into prayer requests. Take the things you cannot change to the Almighty. Refuse to allow worry and anxiety to fester in your heart and entrust yourself and your worries to God. Worry comes in and should go right out in prayer to God the Father.
Remember that you are not to be anxious about anything, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Remember, we have a faithful High Priest (Jesus) who can sympathize with our weaknesses and He calls us to boldly “draw near to the throne of grace” (Heb 4:16) in prayer to find the mercy and grace we need. He not only tells you not to be anxious but provides a way out and a better way. We should pray for every situation and make it with thanksgiving. We can always find a reason to be thankful. We make our requests known to God and rejoice that He cares about what makes us anxious and, most importantly, cares about us.
God Provides a Better Way than Worry
Verse 7 promises that when you make your requests known to God, you will receive “the peace of God.” God promises peace and you must receive it by faith. This peace is rooted in God as He has revealed Himself to us through Jesus Christ. Remember, this peace is given to those who have an anxious heart and who have turned the anxiety over to Him. This peace is a confidence in God that He will work everything out for your good and His glory.
The peace of God “surpasses all understanding.” There is no explaining it but there is no denying it either. The peace of God is unique because it is not dependent upon external circumstances. The peace of God is dependent on the internal conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He cares for you, that He loves you, and that He is working good on your behalf (Rom 8:28). Even if your heart is broken, you still have God’s peace.
The peaceGod gives “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” It guards your heart and helps keep your emotions from running away from you. It guards your mind to keep your thoughts from wandering down perilous paths. You have an important God-given task. Keep fighting, keep praying, keep loving, and keep trusting in Jesus Christ. Remember the blessing of taking your worries to the One who loves you! What a friend we have in Jesus! As the old song, “What a Friend we have in Jesus” reminds us:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness, Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge—Take it to the Lord in prayer; Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there.