Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7
The only way to combat anxiety is through prayer.
Have you ever had an anxiety attack? Also known as, “panic” attacks? I have. One minute I am okay and the next I am overwhelmed by uncontrollable fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the future, etc. The list can go on and on. I create “worst case scenarios” in my mind… events that haven’t happened, but could. That fear and the subsequent worry of “what could happen” is what drives anxiety. In fact, worry is defined as “to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.” Wow. No wonder the word anxiety is followed by the word attack. We already know we have an enemy who is armed and ready to attack our minds so that we dwell on those very things we fear most. So, how do we fight back?
Pray, but first REJOICE.
Paul, the author of Philippians, segues into these verses by first exclaiming, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again rejoice!” It’s hard to rejoice when we’re anxious. Anxiety steals our joy. I cannot even begin to recount the number of times my entire day has been ruined because of worry. The thoughts come in like a flood and it’s all I can do just to keep my head above the water. Psalm 94:19 says, “Whenanxiety was great within me, your consolationbrought joy to my soul.“ In other words, God is present in the midst of our anxiety. Surely, it will not defeat us with God on our side. He will lift up a standard against the enemy and the flood of thoughts that come in tow so that we do not drown. That in and of itself is cause to rejoice! Not only that, but we don’t have to live struggling just to keep our heads above the water, but when we pray- we have access to God’s peace. How great is that?
God’s peace surpasses our every thought.
Think about the worst thought you’ve ever had. The one that not only steals your joy, but cripples you with fear, so that you can’t move forward in what God has called you to do and who God has called you to be. The one that makes you see mountains where there are molehills, so that your thoughts are on a continuous loop of worry. My mom compares this to a hamster’s wheel. You’re running and running, but getting no where. God’s peace, my friends, surpasses even that thought. This peace guards our minds and our hearts in Christ Jesus when we pray and make our requests known to God. No longer do we have to live burdened by anxiety. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Gal. 5:1.
Dwell on these things.
Paul writes in verse 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 moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” To dwell is to “linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing.” We must not continue to entertain thoughts we know will only bring us more harm than good, but rather, we must set our minds on things above and dwell on the thoughts that glorify God.
As someone who struggles with anxiety- these verses are among my favorites in the entire bible. So, whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed- just remember the following:
- We can rejoice in the Lord and in the strength of his might. We have more than enough reasons to do so!
- We have access to thought-surpassing, anxiety-defeating heavenly peace when we pray.
- We can set our minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God instead of dwelling on satanic thoughts meant to cripple us from moving forward.
So, don’t worry, be happy!