When Anxiety Strikes
If you needed a consultant, would you hire just anyone? Of course not. You’d want to be sure your advisor had experience to back up his or her suggestions. The apostle Paul was certainly qualified to teach on the value of contentment—he wrote on the subject while under confinement by Roman authorities.
In today’s passage, Paul says that prayer safeguards the believer’s heart from anxiety. Praying appropriately will result in protection, so we are wise to follow the pattern Jesus gave us. The Lord’s Prayer underscores adoration of the Father and de-emphasizes focusing on oneself (Matt. 6:9-13). God does desire to hear our concerns (Phil. 4:6). But if problems are all that keep us on our knees, then we have missed the main point of our relationship with Him.
Why does the Lord expect us to honor Him when what we really want is immediate help for our problems? Because where the mind dwells, the heart follows. Focusing on His greatness puts our needs in perspective and encourages us to rest easy. He is in charge and at work (Rom. 8:28).
Consider Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-46). Even as the Lord was crying out for relief, He nevertheless submitted to the Father’s greater will (Matt. 26:39). As a result, a supernatural peace fortified the Savior and enabled Him to face His executioners.
In today’s reading, Paul offered a radical peace plan: Praise the Lord while suffering persecution; thank Him when facing trials; pray about everything. Each prayer braces your heart against anxiety. That’s solid advice from a man who practiced what he preached.