“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 NLT
The Greek word for “worry” in this passage literally means, “to be pulled in different directions.” It’s a rather accurate description of worry, don’t you think? This concept is perfectly illustrated by a conversation I had with a lady I pastored. I’ll summarize her side of the discussion.
“Pastor Paul, I would just love to visit my daughter and grandchildren in Chicago. But, I would have to fly. I’m afraid of flying. I’d be so nervous that the plane was going to crash. I certainly can’t drive there. I’m afraid of driving in the big city. What if I turn the wrong way on a one-way street? I’d get killed!
“I wish I could see my daughter. But, I can’t travel. She knows I can’t travel! Why doesn’t she come see me more often? I wonder if she really even cares about me. Pastor Paul, what did I do wrong in raising my daughter?”
In a span of less than seven minutes, this poor woman went from desiring to see her daughter to doubting her daughter’s love to deliberating if she had failed as a parent.
This is what worry does. It pulls us in different directions. Our hopes and dreams pull us in one direction and our fears pull us in the opposite direction. Usually, this leads to inaction and sends us spiraling into negativity. We begin doubting if God even cares.
Speaker and author Les Brown said, “You will either live your dreams or you will live your fears.” So, how do we overcome our fears in order to live our dreams? Our focus passage tells us where to start: replace worry with prayer.
Trying to stop worry is akin to trying to shovel darkness out of a room. Can’t be done. Instead, you simply have to turn on the light. The action that turns on the lights in the dark rooms of worry is prayer.
Notice, however, that the prayer needs to be accompanied with thanksgiving. Giving thanks certainly has spiritual benefits, but it benefits us physiological as well. The action of verbally expressing gratitude triggers the release of endorphins in our brain the same way exercise or laughter does. Endorphins reduce stress and elevate our moods. In other words, they help us feel peaceful.
Try this. Write a list of everything you can think of to thank God for.
You don’t have to be super spiritual about it but your salvation would be a good starting point. For the next seven days spend the first three to five minutes of your morning just verbally and fervently expressing gratitude to God for the things on your list.
After you’ve spent time thanking God for what He’s already done for you, then proceed in prayer, asking God for what you would like Him to do for you. If you find yourself starting to worry again during prayer, simply start give thanks again, then return to prayer.
My bet is that after seven days you’ll start feeling better. You’ll probably even add to your gratitude list. Instead of being driven by your fears you’ll start being led by your dreams. Instead of worry, you’ll feel the peace of Christ. You’ll no longer be pulled in different directions. After all, your fears can’t pull you once you’ve let them go.