Dealing with Anxiety through Prayer

Good Afternoon Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit bring you joy and peace today as you seek to live in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel. As I sit at my desk writing this letter, I am overwhelmed by the blessed opportunity we have to encourage one another in our walk with Christ (1 Thess 5:11; Heb 10:23-25). This is my ultimate purpose in sharing my heart with you every week through these pastoral letters, which some of you kindly refer to as the “Friday sermon.” Last week we considered something that inundates most, if not all, of our lives at some point, will hinder spiritual growth, will rob us of true joy, and will steal from us the lasting peace our hearts long for. I am referring to that nagging reality of anxiety and worry. I think it will be helpful for us to contemplate further the instruction given to us in Scripture on how to properly deal with this problem.

Let me remind you that the Bible clearly depicts worry and anxiety as sin, and thus commands believers to be anxious for nothing (Lk 12:22-34; Phil 4:6). Last week we saw that worry flows out of a lack of trust in God (Mt 6:24-35; Job 1:21; Lam 3:21-24) and a lack of contentment with God’s providence in and over our lives (Mt 10:29-31; Rom 8:28-30; Phil 4:10-13). Now, I reiterate this point because it helps us understand that anxiety is ultimately a choice that we make when we decide to allow our circumstances, our emotions, our pain, and/or our problems to control our attitudes and direct our actions. Job, Jeremiah, Paul, and ultimately Christ Himself stand as clear examples of this truth as they chose to trust God amidst the great temptation of anxiety (Job 1:21; Lam 3:21-24; 2 Cor 13:7-10; 1 Pet 2:21-23; Lk 22:39-46). Thus, we are not helpless victims to our anxious thoughts, but as believers, we have freedom and power in Christ to overcome them (Rom 6:1-14; 2 Cor 5:16-17; Eph 4:20-24). Therefore, what a blessing to know that in Christ, you will not face a temptation beyond your ability to withstand it, endure it, and ultimately overcome it (1 Cor 10:13; Rom 8:37)!

Dealing with Anxiety through Prayer

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Now, the first step in fighting against anxiety after biblically identifying it is to bring our concerns, our worries, and our anxious thoughts to the Lord (Phil 4:6-7). The Bible emphatically commands us to cast our cares upon the Lord knowing that He cares for us (1 Pet 5:7)! Furthermore, prayer is to be a primary weapon in the Christian’s spiritual battle that he wages every day (Eph 6:18), including when fighting against anxiety (Phil 4:6-7). Therefore, Scripture commands us to pray humbly, going to Him in total dependence, fully knowing and personally embracing the fact that we cannot fix or rightfully deal with our dilemma without Him (1 Pet 5:6). Next, we are called to pray confidently, knowing that nothing in my life is too small to take to Him (Phil 4:6), and nothing in my life is too big for God to handle (Mt 19:26; Mk 14:36). Thus, we are to totally cast our cares, completely releasing them to Him in full assurance of faith, because He personally, tenderly, and powerfully cares for us (1 Pet 5:7; Rom 8:32). Therefore, we are to pray thankfully, as we revel in the reality of God’s sovereign care over our lives (Ps 139:1-24; Mt 6:24-35), as we praise Him for His salvific care in our lives (Rom 5:6-11; Titus 3:5-7), and for His sustaining care through our lives (Jn 10:27-30; 1 Cor 1:7-9; Rom 8:28-30)! Lastly, we are to pray selflessly, taking our cares to Him, ultimately not that we might be relieved of our problems, but that His will might be done in our lives (Mt 6:10; 26:39)! This is so important when dealing with worry as it gets our eyes off of our pain and personal plans, and directs our hearts to seek His glory first and His Kingdom rule and reign above all else (Mt 6:33).   

The second step to dealing with anxiety comes through thinking intentionally by renewing your mind biblically, but expounding that will have to wait until next week. I pray this will encourage your walk in the Lord and further equip you in your pursuit of holiness while fighting with the sin of anxiety (Heb 12:14). I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday as we consider the heart of Paul and dive deeper into the marks of a biblical servant. One of the truths we will consider is the fact that Paul was purposefully involved in ministry. Why did Paul agonize physically and prayerfully for those believers? What was his ultimate goal in serving as he did? How does this directly guide all that we do as servants of Christ? Well, come this Sunday and learn from God’s Word what the true heart of servant looks like. Hopefully, I will see you there!

Prayerfully,

Pastor Matt

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