Prayer Power over Anxiety
Do you often worry about the future? Do thoughts of what could happen paralyze you?
Do you ever feel strangled by fear? Do you feel as though you being torn apart between faith and anxiety?
I have learned the power of prayer to help defeat anxiety. The apostle Paul was my teacher.
The Power of Prayer Over Anxiety
If I was Paul, I would probably be anxious and depressed. He had been unjustly arrested, hauled far away to Rome, and thrown in prison next door by the maniacal emperor, Nero. Alone, and constantly chained to guards, he faced the possibility of execution every day. (In fact, a few years later, he was executed.)
Yet, surprisingly Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi shows no sign of fear. He does not whine or complain. He was filled with peace. He was not depressed or despairing. In fact, the letter to the Philippians has often been called “the Epistle of Joy.”
How did Paul rise above his anxious, depressing, perilous situation? Fortunately, he told us.
Philippians 4:6–7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The word Paul used for anxious speaks of being distracted, divided and mentally defeated by the things in which we little or no control. It speaks of being overwhelmed with and full of cares. It means to be pulled in opposite directions and divided into parts.
The old English word for worry means “to strangle.” It feels like fear has its hands around my neck strangling the peace, hope, and joy out of me.
Anxiety cuts off a sense of wellbeing and peace. It steals our focus and robs us of joy. Fear can quickly dominate our thinking. To make matters worse, the more we dwell on negative thoughts, the stronger they become.
So, Paul told them his readers to stop being anxious. But how?
· Everything. Since the Enemy loves to make any and everything a reason to worry, we need to learn to make everything a point of prayer. This means that no area of our lives, no situation we face or think we might face is off limits when it comes to prayer.
· Prayer: This word for “prayer” is to be understood in a broad sense referring to “prayer as an act of worship.” Worship is a matter of looking to God and getting our eyes off everything other than God. When we focus on our problems they seem to grow. But when we focus on God, our problems shrink in comparison.
· Petition: The word “petition” refers to making specific requests to God. The idea is to take what you are worried about and specifically turn it into a prayer request. Peter said, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). I have learned to turn my problems into prayer.
In my journal, I list everything I have to do that day and everything I tempted to worry about. Then, one-by-one, I specifically give each activity and each anxiety to God as I ask the Lord to be active in working in that area and situation. I cast my cares on God and let Him worry about them that day.
· Thanksgiving: This speaks of expressing gratitude to God for what He has done for me in the past. Gratitude and worry are mutually exclusive, both of them can’t occupy your mind at the same time. Watch your anxiety level drop when you replace worry with giving thanks to God for all He has done for you in the past.
When we stop worrying and start praying with thanksgiving, the result is powerful peace; a peace that makes no earthly sense.
Start right now. Turn your worry list into your prayer list. Thank God for what He has done in the past and will do in the future.
Adapted from the book, 28 Days to Powerful Prayer, Dave Earley, Barbour Books,