Thoughts. They have the power to heal and the power to destroy.
How many hours have I wasted dwelling on things I have no control over! The future, current circumstances, unrealized dreams, unfulfilled promises…can you relate?
God plainly says it:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6)
We accept it, and even do it.
Oh God, please make this happen. Pleaaase. Help me out here. Please fulfill this. Please give me a sign.
I’ve done this countless of times. Still do! After all, I’m praying about it, right?
But let’s look at the scripture again. Let’s go deeper. Let’s break it down into 4 calls of action:
- Don’t worry about anything
- Instead, pray about everything
- Tell God what you need
- Thank Him for all He has done
I. Don’t worry
Easier said than done, right? Yet, our Father knows that worry can destroy us and bring us down.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up”
(Proverbs 12:25, NIV)
Worry can make us waste precious hours of our time — something we will never get back.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry…Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? ”
(Luke 12:22-26, NIV)
Worry starts in the mind, makes its way into our hearts and then takes control of our actions. Worry paralyzes and blinds us. It joins hands with fear, anxiety and can even lead to depression.
Worry can make us isolated, unmoved and can even hurt the people around us. It robs us of the “now.”
One of my favorite quotes, and also one of my biggest struggles is this:
Instead of dwelling and drowning in thoughts, let’s do the following…
II. Instead, pray
Prayer is a sign of humility. When we pray, we are bringing our thoughts to God instead of continually trying to “figure stuff out” by ourselves. Trust me when I say that dwelling and keeping thoughts to yourself will not get you out of the pit, but deeper in it.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”
(1 Peter 5:6-7)
The reason why we can tell God all of our anxiety and mental – seemingly unsolvable – puzzles is this: He cares. He cares for every detail of your life. He wants to hear you. He wants to have you come to Him with all you bring (even if it doesn’t look so good!).
So, go ahead. Tell God all that’s in your mind. Let Him know how you feel about your situation. About your unrealized dream or promise. About your long-term struggle.
Let’s get into the habit on praying instead of worrying. Whenever a thought comes to mind, take it to the Lord in prayer.
III. Tell God what you need
I am so excited to share this with you. SO excited.
Did you notice that God says to pray about everything, yet then tells us to ask Him what we need? These can be two separate things!
I don’t know about you, but I never thought about it like that before.
“….Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” (James 4:2-3 NLT)
Ouch! That hurt. But it’s so good.
You see, God tells us to pray differently. Yes, by all means, we need to cast our anxieties to Him. But it doesn’t end there. God wants us then to ask Him for what we need. Not only tell Him what we want.
The truth is that if we don’t have something now and we are following the Lord, we don’t need it. This is true because God never withholds good things from His children.
“For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalm 84:11 NLT)
If it’s not happening, it’s not good.
But this is not our perspective of good. God can see beyond what we can see and knows what holds eternal value. He knows what will be better in the long run. He also knows what He’s saving us from.
So what should we ask God after telling Him our cares?
- We can ask for wisdom to manage our emotions and circumstances. (James 1:5)
- We can ask Him for strength when we are weak. (Isaiah 33:2, Isaiah 40:29-31)
- We can ask Him for boldness and a renewed passion for His kingdom. (2 Timothy 1:6-7)
- We can ask Him to show us ways to bless others around us. (Philippians 2:1-30, Matthew 7:12)
- We can ask Him to show us how to love Him above all things and others as ourselves.(Luke 10:27)
- We can ask Him to reveal the lessons He wants us to learn in this season. (Psalm 86:11)
- We can ask Him to show us what we can do today. (Jeremiah 42:3)
IV. Thank Him for all He has done
This last one speaks for itself. God has done way more than we often remember!
Psalm 103:2 says:
“Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things He does for me.”
We all have a problem with remembering. Often, our present circumstances blind us from seeing all that God has done, is doing and has promised to do.
When we start thanking God and counting what He’s done, our anxiety and fears can start fading away. When we remember who God is, we can see how much our circumstances pale in comparison to His power.
This is not the first time in our lives where we have struggled or gone through hardship. The current situation might even seem worse than anything you’ve ever experienced, but it is truly no match for God. Let’s remember how He has been there for us – and still is…and will forever be with us.
V. Toby’s story
I have a story to help sum all of this up.
Toby can say:
“God please please get me to the top of the mountain. You told me I’d be there. Please just get me there!”
That can be Toby’s focus: how he’s not where he was expecting to be. But that doesn’t leave a lot of room for actually experiencing the journey.
OR, Toby can say:
“Lord, help me have the right equipment for this climb.”
“Strengthen my hands and feet for the journey.”
“When I struggle and fall…when I get discouraged, please help me up.”
“Help me know that I’m not alone. You are with me and there are also other people in this journey. Help me join hands with them and make room for us to encourage one another.”
“Help me be thankful and see all You’ve already done.”
Friends, we are not alone. God is with us in our journeys, however difficult they may seem. Let’s let go of our worry and start praying differently.
“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (1 Peter 5:10)