Prayer is converse with God; the intercourse of the soul with God, not in contemplation or meditation, but in direct address to him. It is a “beseeching the Lord” (Ex. 32:11); “pouring out the soul before the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:15); “praying and crying to heaven” (2 Chr. 32:20); “seeking unto God and making supplication” (Job 8:5); “drawing near to God” (Ps. 73:28); “bowing the knees” (Eph. 3:14). – Easton Bible Dictionary
Worry is mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated. – Merriam Webster Dictionary
Someone has said life is a series of problems; you are either in one, just out of one or preparing to get into another.
Job 5:7 says “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” In fact, Jesus said that “In this world you will have trouble” (Jn. 16:33). Naturally, the default response to life’s never-ending troubles is to spend time thinking about them. The downside of those thoughts is that they easily veer off into considering what the outcomes would be. That soon crosses the thin line into worry, especially so if the anticipated outcomes are negative. The most privileged among us face challenges from time to time; all of us are prone to worry.
It is in the midst of life’s many troubles and what one may argue are legitimate reasons to worry that the Bible says “Do not be anxious about anything” (Phil. 4:6). ANYTHING? Yes! It is both a counsel and a command. For the scriptures to advise that you don’t worry, such counsel must come with positives. For it to be a command, God must have made available the grace for it to be obeyed.
So, how can you stop worrying and start praying? Here are a few suggestions from scripture.
REALIZE THE FUTILITY OF WORRY
If there is anything that we resort to almost without knowing, but that has no single benefit, it is worry. Take a pen and paper, write out the things you have accomplished by worrying. Nada! Worry has absolutely no rewards, it achieves nothing. Rather, it saps those who indulge in it of the strength they need to face the challenge of the moment. The very definition of worry is that it is mental distress or agitation. To underline the futility of worry, Jesus asked: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (or a single cubit to his height?) Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Lk. 12:25-26).
REALIZE THAT THE PRESENCE OF WORRY IS THE ABSENCE OF FAITH IN THE POWER OF GOD
The person who worries displays faithlessness in God’s power. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5). He asked in Jer. 32:27 “Is there anything too hard for me?” What is your sincere response to that question? You worry because you think your problem might be too hard for Him. The person who has faith in God’s promises and His power to fulfill them does not worry, they trust in God’s promises. You cannot have both faith in God and worry at the same time.
TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE WAVES AND FIX THEM ON JESUS
One of the prime sources of worry is focusing the mind on wrong things. When such false anchors are shaken, those who are fixated on them naturally resort to worry. You need to fix your eyes on Jesus and not on the waves around you. When you focus on your problems, your mind magnifies them more than they really are. Remember the night that Jesus walked on water towards His fearful disciples. At Peter’s request, Jesus told him to come out to Him on the water. He did and walked on the water. ‘But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”’ (Mt. 14:25-32). No matter the waves, take your gaze off them and fix it on the word of God, you will rise above worry.
When you focus on your problems, your mind magnifies them more than they really are.
HAVE FAITH IN THE POWER OF GOD
What causes people to resort to worry is because they do not know the power of God. Following Job’s encounter with God, he declared: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). Do you also know that God can do ALL things? Knowing this will help you to not worry over your challenges but turn them over to God in prayer.
BELIEVE IN THE GOODNESS OF GOD
The image of God that many people have is that of an aloof, all-knowing, holy being who holds a hammer and is ready at all times to land heavily on them for their misdeeds. But if there is one word that scripture uses to describe God, it is love. According to 1 Jn. 4:16 “God is love.” He loves you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).
The thoughts and plans He has of you are to prosper you and not to harm you; they are plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). Even the very hairs on your head are all numbered (Mt. 10:30), not a single strand falls to the ground without His knowledge and permission. Your comb, barber or hairdresser do not know, but He does know how many hairs you have. That’s how meticulous God is with His care for you. If you believe in His goodness, you will quit worrying and instead place your concerns in his hands.
HAVE FAITH IN THE POWER OF PRAYER
James 5:16 says “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” You have so much power at your disposal in prayer than you realize. The Bible testifies to this; the devil knows this and would do anything to keep you from praying. Never you think you are feeble. When you pray, you mobilize the resources of heaven; power is released to tackle your difficulties, angels fly to respond to your requests at your Father’s command. At the mention the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow; mountains are waiting for you to speak for them to be uprooted and planted elsewhere. Beloved, your prayers make tremendous power available.
PRAYER IS WRESTLING, LEARN TO PERSEVERE
Paul spoke of Epaphras in Col. 4:12 that he was “always wrestling in prayer.” You need to know that there are forces, princes, principalities and powers in high places that fight against the manifestation of your prayers. What should be your response to this opposition? Surrender? Surely not! You wrestle back, you persevere in the battle.
Another reason to persevere is that God uses delays in getting your requests delivered to you to grow your faith. Luke 18:1 says “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show that they should always pray and not give up.” When Abraham was waiting for the child of promise, “he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:20-21). Let that be your story too.
Pray. Go ahead and pray. The solution to your problems is not worry; that has never accomplished anything. Of what use is the knowledge of prayer if it doesn’t get you to actually pray? We are both encouraged and commanded to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). Obedience to this instruction therefore means that you will quit worrying and start praying. The word is that you don’t worry about ANYTHING. Let nothing appear to be too complex that it gets you to worry. Pray about EVERYTHING. Never think a particular thing that concerns you is too insignificant to pray about. The instruction is that you pray about everything.
Interestingly, the solution to your worries also lies in your praying. When you do, “you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand” (Phil. 4:7). You may not understand how, but when you pray your worries will be replaced by the peace of God. God, who can never be flustered, shares His peace with you when you pray. How wonderful, how truly wonderful.