In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul encouraged these believers not to worry but to pray. He wrote,
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 (CSB)
Paul does not say, “Don’t worry, be happy.” As if we could pull ourselves up by our own boot straps. He doesn’t try to comfort his hearers with the prospect that what they’re worried about might never happen. Nor does he tell them to just focus on something else to take their minds off their worry. Paul also does not encourage them to look inside themselves or to empty their minds of worry.
He says, “Don’t worry. Pray.”
When we pray, we praise God for who He is and for what He’s done in our lives. Through prayer, we affirm our belief in the sovereignty of God–that He is in control over all things. Through prayer, we exercise faith that God knows exactly what we need and has the power to fulfill His will for us and through us. Prayer focuses us on God rather than the object of our worry.
Prayer lifts up both our thanks and our needs to the only One who is worthy to hear both. God is able.
Through this faithful exercise of prayer, God imparts to us a peace that surpasses all understanding. Our prayerful reminders of God’s sovereignty refinforce to our minds that He is in control of the storms and the sunshine we encounter each day.
When we focus on the Lord through prayer, we see how much bigger He is than the object of our worry. We are reminded that He is the God of the storm. He is also working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Trust in the Lord and pray!
(If you want to read more from Tim McKnight, click here.)
Tim is the Director of the Global Center for Youth Ministry and Associate Professor for Youth Ministry & Missions at Anderson University. He is lead pastor/planter of Mosaic Church of Anderson. Tim is also the author of Engaging Generation Z (Kregel Academic), No Better Gospel (Seeds Publishing Group), and the author and editor of Navigating Student Ministry (B&H Academic). His comments do not reflect the views of his employers and are his own personal views on various subjects.