When You’re Overwhelmed with Anxiety
From the series Inner Peace
When life gets hard, really hard, we have two options. We can become consumed with worry – which is what most people do, OR we can trust God, who tells us not to worry or be anxious. Are you able to trust God’s goodness, or does the anxiety just seem too overwhelming? Chip explains how we can actually turn our upsetting circumstances back to God and have His supernatural peace.
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About this series
How to Find it and Keep It
Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you.” Very likely, when we pray, peace is often what we ask for - peace in the world, peace at home, and maybe most of all, peace in our relationships - but what did Jesus mean when He said His peace? And when life gets hard, really hard, we have two options. We can become consumed with worry – which is what most people do, OR we can trust God, who tells us not to worry or be anxious. God promised His children supernatural peace - even in the midst of conditions that threaten to absolutely overwhelm us. In this series, Chip reveals how God’s peace works and how you can have it – regardless of your circumstances.More from this series
As we start today, I want you to do something maybe a little bit unusual. If you’ll pull out your pen, I would like you to write this question: Is it well with my soul? Is it well with my soul?
We sang that amazing song and then we took a little time and we’ve realized that everybody goes through storms in life. When you go through difficulty, problems, health issues, cancer. Times where you feel like I’ll never get married or times when you feel like why did I every get married? We all have struggles and pain in our lives.
And I have to tell you that of all the songs, all the hymns, I think that, It Is Well With My Soul, is actually my favorite of all time. I have been through some really, really hard and painful times with my family, with our health, ministry, my own self-doubts, just times when I felt desperately overwhelmed, insecure, and anxious.
And if you know the story behind that, It Is Well, it just brings new meaning to it. You can look it up on Wikipedia, but let me just give you the story behind, It Is Well. It was written in 1876, and in 1871, Horatio Spafford, he was a lawyer, he was pretty well-to-do, he put a lot of investments in Chicago.
And in 1871, there was this huge Chicago fire. It decimated the city. And he, literally, lost almost everything that he had. Well, then he was rebuilding his economic world and he was a godly, godly man. And then in 1873, they had their economic downturn.
And so he loses everything by fire, nearly; he gets back up on his feet, economic downturn; it’s all gone. And he was on his way to have a trip with his wife and four daughters, and they were going to go to England.
And so there was a zoning problem with the city and it was like, Oh, I’ve got to stay here, I’ve got to address all this, and then I’ll meet you there. I’ll take the next boat.
And weeks later, he received from his wife, Anna just two words: “Saved alone.”
The ship that his wife and four daughters were on, crashed into another ship at sea. And all four of his daughters were killed.
He wrapped some things up, got on the next ship to comfort his grieving wife, process. His fortune gone; economics gone; his family, his daughters gone.
And when he came to near the spot where it occurred, he penned these lyrics: When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea, billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.
And the question I have for us is: How in the world could a human being lose his material possessions, lose his daughter, and come into that place and say, “It is well with my soul”?
And what I am going to suggest is that storms come in all of our lives. Circumstantial storms, relational storms, difficult storms, crisis storms, work storms. But Jesus said this when He was preparing His disciples, both then and now. This is what He said. This was the very last night, John chapter 16, verse 33.
He says, “These things I have spoken unto you,” speaking about that last night with them, “in order that you might have My peace. I give you My peace, not as the world gives, but I give you My peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart,” or literally the old King James, “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
And so here’s what I want you to know. We are talking about inner peace. We are talking about: How do you find it and how do you keep it?
And we talked about when you are overwhelmed with technology, what do you do? And we talked about when you are in the midst of relational conflict, what do you do? I want to talk about, what happens when you are overwhelmed with anxiety? When circumstances and fears just begin to just blow over your soul.
How in the world can ordinary people like you and me experience the peace that Jesus promised, and the peace that Horatio Spafford wrote about?
And what I want to tell you is, is that you have two options. You have two options; I have two options. When circumstances and difficulties and storms come into our lives, option A is: I can trust and God says there is a supernatural peace, produced by the Holy Spirit, of His presence in me that will filter all of that and allow me to understand God’s control and that will give me a supernatural, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual peace. It doesn’t mean I’m happy, it doesn’t mean I like it, but there is peace.
Option two is: We can worry. We can become anxious. We can try and control the situation. And we can just, literally, get overwhelmed and paralyzed.
And so in order to go down this road, because I know what some of you are thinking, Hey, look, I know God promises it, but how do you get it? Okay? How could you move from anxious, difficult, painful, loss, tragedy, separation, divorce, cancer? And when you’re in the midst of it, how in the world can you experience God’s peace?
Well, I am going to suggest that, one, we need to learn a little bit about anxiety. And then, are you ready? I am going to teach you, from God’s Word, exactly how you can respond in a way where He promises that you and I and ordinary people can experience His peace.
So, look on your notes if you will, and I want you to just do a little examination of what anxiety is. The definition of anxiety here, this is taken from a prof of mine who wrote a Christian book on anxiety, depression, and this is a bit of a technical definition.
But he says, “Anxiety is an emotion characterized by uneasiness, apprehension, dread, concern, tension, restlessness, and worry. The anxious individual often anticipates misfortune, danger, and doom.”
The Webster’s Dictionary basically is: “A fear of uncertainty, a fear of the future that causes emotional unrest.” Anxiety is almost always connected to some future event or something imminent that could happen.
The causes of anxiety are threefold. One, fear of the future: Fear of failure, fear of terrorist attack, fear of economic downturn, fear that your kids won’t turn out right, fear that your marriage is never going to get better, fear you’ll be single the rest of your life, fear that you’re never going to make it economically. Fear, fear, fear of “what if?”
Second is conflict in personal relationships. We dealt with this last week, but when there is a conflict in your marriage, conflict at work, conflict with one of your kids, conflict with your roommate – when there is conflict in here, a lot of it is the fear of, “It’s never going to get better.” And so that produces anxiety.
And the third is regrets over the past. There are some of you that you have done some things in your past, and you feel so bad about them that you rehearse them in your mind. And when difficult things happen, or when things go bad, your mind goes to, I think God is punishing me. Or, If anyone ever finds out about this…and there is this anxiety.
Or you view yourself as an unworthy person, not as a daughter of the Living God, not as a son – a second-class person. And so you feel insecure and anxious when you are in relationships.
And those tapes keep playing over and over and over and, at times, something happens or someone says something or circumstances happen, and pretty soon, that tape rolls in your head. Anxiety.
Well, what is the impact of anxiety? Lean back, if you will, I took a page – I majored in psychology in undergrad and then also in grad school. And so I have studied quite a bit about this. And this list is one of those where, if there is ever a need to overcome anxiety, listen to this list. This is what anxiety does.
In fact, the classical definition in Greek, literally, is a divided mind. In German, the word “anxiety” has a picture of being strangled. In other words, the circumstances are strangling you. Choking out life from you. That’s what anxiety does.
And it does it psychologically, it does it emotionally, it actually does it physically. So listen, here is the impact of anxiety in our lives.
Anxious individuals, lean back, okay? …may be hyper-alert, irritable, fidgety, over-dependent. They may talk too much, they may have difficulty falling asleep, their concentration may be impaired and their memory poor. They may be essentially immobilized by their anxiety.
Some other symptoms of anxiety are headaches, quivering voice, sighing, respirations, episodes of hyperventilation, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea – it gets worse – butterflies, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, fainting episodes, frequent urination, impotence, rigidity. Anxiety is the underlying cause, are you ready for this? …of many psychological problems which include neuroses, psychosis, physio-psychological disorders, and phobias. All to say: Anxiety is not a good thing. It will mess with your mind, it will mess with your heart, it messes with our emotions, it destroys our relationships.
And then here is what I want you, I want you to jot down one more thing. Jot down Mark chapter 4, just put it down, I’ll have you read it later. And Luke 8:14.
Because, yes, anxiety has huge mental, emotional, and physical implications that are difficult and painful and bad. And if you hear me trying to build a case that you have to address this and you don’t have to live this way, it’s exactly what I am doing.
But this last one, Jesus talks to His disciples about how spiritual growth occurs. And He says that He is the sower of life in the kingdom of God. And He calls the Word of God, “the seed.”
And He says the seed falls on four different paths that represent our heart condition. A hard path; one that is filled with rocks, it’s not conducive to growth; there is one that grows up that has thorns; and then there is one that is very productive. It’s a good and honest heart.
And He says, “The heart that is filled with thorns, those thorns are the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this world,” and here is our word, “anxiety,” the worries of our world.
Here’s the question: How do you overcome anxiety? 1 Peter gives us this command: “Cast all your cares,” or, “anxieties on Him,” and here is the reason, “for He cares for you.”
As we talk about this, could I remind you that God is good, that He is your Father, that He loves you, that He is control, that He does not want you with stomach acid rolling? He doesn’t want you up in the middle of the night. He doesn’t want you medicating yourself like we do when we get anxious and you go to the refrigerator. And for some of you, it’s a second or third or fourth glass of wine. And others a little prescription drugs when your back still doesn’t really hurt.
And for some of you, you go shopping, you go out to eat, you spend money. We medicate our anxiety. Billions of dollars every year in drugs to help us Americans with our anxiety.
And what I want you to do now, is I want you to open your notes, and I want to show you that God has a command and He has a promise. And you can learn, it will take come practice, but you can learn that you never have to worry again.
Yes, you heard me right. You never have to worry again. You can choose to do what this says, and His promise is the peace that passes any mental or emotional experience or understanding can be yours.
That instead of some great hero like Horatio Spafford, us normal people, in the midst of the pressure and the busyness and the pulls, we can be at peace within. And I will tell you, when you are, it changes everything.
With that in view, open your notes, and let’s dig in together. And as we dig in, you’ll notice that I have taken the passage and I have laid it out. It’s called, “A mechanical layout.”
And let’s read it. Follow along if you will. It says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Now, notice what I have done, is I have laid it out and what I have done is I have gone into the original Greek text and I have put it in the exact same order as it is there, because what we have been doing around here, we are learning how to study the Bible.
And to study the Bible, you ask three important questions. Question number one is: What does it say? Observation. And one of the ways, when I study, that helps me observe what is going on, is to lay it out grammatically. Just like I used to in a college course, in an English Lit class.
After you make the observation, the second thing I always want to do is say, Okay, well, what does it mean? That’s what it says, but what does it actually mean? And then the third thing I want to ask is: What does it mean to me?
And so it says, notice it says, “Nothing,” literally, the word in the Greek text, it starts with, “Nothing be anxious about,” and above that, get out your pen, and I want you to write, “negative command,” above that. Okay? It’s a command.
“Nothing be anxious about,” or literally, “stop being anxious about anything!” Stop being anxious about terrorist attacks, stop being anxious about your finances, stop being anxious about the big decision that is coming, stop being anxious about how your kids are going to turn out, stop being anxious if you’re going to be single the rest of your life, stop being anxious if you’re never going to move up in your work, stop being anxious! Stop it! It’s a command.
Now, I will lighten up here in just a minute, but if God gives us a command and we know it’s for our good, and we disobey God’s command, what do we normally call that? Sin. And, by the way, that’s not some big guilt trip, because this is probably, of all the sins that Christians, we commit, on a regular basis, it’s worry. It’s to be anxious.
And God says, He commands you, “Stop worrying.” And for some of you, you’re thinking, Man, I would love to stop worrying and I just don’t know how. You’re going to learn how.
But here’s the deal. If you don’t take this seriously, if you don’t say in your heart of hearts, You know what? This is a command. If God commands something, then there is power and ability to do what He says.
Notice after that, then, there is a positive command. “But,” it’s the strongest word of contrast in the Greek New Testament. Stop Anxiety. “But in everything by prayer, by petition, with thanksgiving, the request of you, let be made known to God.”
I want you to write right above where it says, “But everything,” write: “Positive command.” So he’s going to say, “Don’t do that,” but he says, “Hey, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to pray about everything.”
Now, you’re going to notice there are four specific words listed under there about prayer. There are four words in all the New Testament that talk about prayer. All four of them are right here.
And just before, I can hear some of you going, Hey, look, hey, I pray about stuff. And I’m still anxious. This is a different kind of prayer. Right? This is a very different kind of prayer.
And then before I go on and explain that, look at the very end. Notice it says, “And the peace of God surpassing all understanding will guard the hearts of you and the thoughts,” or literally, “the minds of you in Christ Jesus.” And right above where it says, “And the peace of God,” I want you to write: “The promise.”
So you should have: Negative command, positive command, and the promise. The promise is: If you will stop worrying and start praying in a very specific way, the promise is the kind of peace that is beyond human understanding, God will give you.
And notice this little line. It says, “It will guard the hearts of you.” The heart is the seat of affection. The heart is what is down deep. Often, when you go to bed and there are unresolved things, your heart and your mind are trying to resolve those things.
And the reason we wake up at 1:11 and we look at the clock and it’s 2:07, then it’s 3:01 and then it’s 4:17.
The fact of the matter is, we are exhausted. And so he is saying, “The heart is at the seat of affection.” He says this peace isn’t just something that will allow your intellect to be at rest, this is a peace that allows your heart to be at rest.
And then notice it says, “This peace,” it’s almost given a personality. It says, “The peace of God,” it says, “will,” – what? “…guard.” Put a circle around the word “guard.” It’s a military term.
Many, many years ago, I had the chance to go to England and at the big palace and you get the guards and they’ve got the big hat like this. They are called, “sentries.” That’s this word.
And what a sentry does is it stands guard. It doesn’t defend, it doesn’t solve things. You stand guard and a sentry says, “Oh, the enemy is coming! There’s a problem.” And it gets help.
Listen carefully. The peace of God, every believer possesses, because the Spirit of God is a Spirit of love and joy and peace. And Jesus said He will give you His peace. You possess it.
It is a guard in your heart and your life and when you lose your peace, when you feel anxiety coming on, when you feel you are losing control, when you feel anxious and feel like you have to power up, when you feel like, Oh, I’ve got to take care of this – you are losing your peace. The Sentry, the Spirit of God is saying, Something is wrong. When you are losing your peace, something is wrong. Deal with it!
It’s like driving in your car, and as you’re driving in your car, one of those lights is flashing. It’s flashing. Well, the problem isn’t the light. It’s saying something under the hood. Stop and address it.
The peace of God is a gift to you to let you know there is something that needs to be resolved. And you know what? Sometimes it’s hard to even know what it is. And I am going to show you how to discover what it is.
But for many people, you know what we do when we begin to lose our peace? You go to the refrigerator, and if you eat for a little while, you have this artificial peace for a while. And for some of you, it’s just like you have a pattern. And every night it’s a quick shot of that or a couple glasses of wine. And, Oh, I have to wind down.
For others of us, it’s, Okay, there’s all that stuff and I don’t have peace, but, boy, I’ll tell you what, Sports Center sure helps. Or, I’m going to watch this movie. Or for some of you it’s just like, You know something? Oh, man, I am so overwhelmed, I am going to go to the mall. Right? And there’s a lot worse.
For some of you, you log on to Internet sites. Or you find that things aren’t good at home. And you’re frustrated and you don’t have peace. And you begin to wander in your mind and wander in your relationships. And not good things happen.
And so that’s the command. Stop being anxious. Positive command: Start, literally, praying about everything. Well, how? By prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests, specific ones, be made known unto God and as you go through this process, here’s the promise: Peace. It’ll guard your heart and your mind.
Well, let’s dig in to find out: How does this actually work in our everyday lives? The commands are the “what.” You’ll notice on your notes, here, there are four key words under the “how.” And then at the bottom, we are going to look at the promise and the “why.”
And so, negatively, here’s what I want you to write down, because you haven’t done it yet. Negatively, just write, “Stop worrying about anything.” That’s a command.
Then underneath that, I want you to write, “Positively equals: Pray about everything.” Prayer is God’s antidote to anxiety. Okay? That’s the message. Prayer is God’s antidote to anxiety.
Now, I want to go back to what I started to share. Many of you are saying to yourself, I have prayed when I was anxious, and I pray and then I’m done and I’m anxious. So I pray some more and I’m anxious. And I am going to suggest that many of us aren’t praying what I would call, this is a biblical prayer. This is a biblical way to pray about anxiety.
I have done this as well. So sometimes we just whine and complain, Lord, I’m just really anxious about my husband, and he is so insensitive. And one of the kids is doing things wrong, and work is not going very well and my hip is really, really bothering me. And we just go on and on and on and we give God this list of all the things, well, Amen.
Well, we really haven’t prayed. What we have done is we have sort of whined in the presence of God. Now, by the way, that’s not all bad. Job did. David laments. It’s okay to get things out on the table.
But if that’s all you do, you will not receive peace. These four words are very, very instructive. There is a way to pray, a biblical way to pray, because people say, Oh, cast all your cares on God. How do you do that? I am going to teach you right now. Are you ready?
The first word is: Prayer. It’s the most common word in the New Testament and it has the idea of a general word for prayer and it’s the idea of worship and adoration. Literally, the word means, “to turn your thoughts and your feelings toward God.” So, you are feeling anxious, you are starting to lose your peace, here’s what you have to stop and do. You need to stop and remember who God is. So let me give you an example. And you do it with adoration; you do it with praise.
So often, I start with the character of God or I think about creation. And so I’m thinking, Okay, this is a big situation, and I’ll share one a little bit later. But there was one that I had with one of my sons. It was like a three and a half year journey, and I just was anxious all the time. And I wondered if it would ever get better.
And there was another time when we went through cancer in our family with my wife, and she is better now. There were other times when we have just had, at Living on the Edge or churches I have pastored, we had these huge financial things and I would wake up with my chest pounding, God, how do You do this? How can I trust You?
And He goes, Here’s what you do, Chip. I want you to get your focus off the problem, because you either have a really big God and small problems, or you look at all of life through your problem, and you have very big problems and a very small God.
And I cannot tell you how many times and sometimes it’s at 1:11 or 2:14 or 3:17, and I will go out into the family room so I don’t wake up Theresa, and sometimes I will just walk outside and I will look at all the stars, and I literally just lift my hands, Oh, God Almighty, You are awesome, You are powerful, You are all-knowing. You created all of this. Lord, I remember from some studies that if I could travel at the speed of light, it would take me one hundred thousand years just to cross our galaxy, the Milky Way. Lord, there are a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way. And I read where there is, we think from those telescopes there are maybe one hundred or two hundred billion other galaxies. And You are all-knowing and You are all-powerful. And I am the object of Your attention, and I am Your son and You love me.
And I just want You to know that I am overwhelmed with this problem and I am pulling this problem back and I am offering it up to You and I am just saying I believe that the God who created all that there is, who died for me, who I am the center of Your affection, and who has unlimited power, and knows all things actual and possible, and promises to always be good to me, and do it in the best and highest and wisest way, here’s what I want you to know: I am going to look at this problem through this lens. And I am asking You to please help me now. Do you see the difference?
You see, you get a big God. Now, I want you to really think about what is the number one issue you’re wrestling with? A health issue? A relationship issue? I don’t know what it is. A job issue? Do you think, just hypothetically, is it possible that an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, loving, just God, who created the entire universe, is it just possible that He has the power and the willingness to take care of that problem? And you could give it to Him, you could cast your care on Him and actually step back and trust Him to do something rather than it being on you?
See, that’s the first step. And that’s not a whiny prayer. That’s not, Poor me, poor me, poor me, how come? Why, God? That’s an adoration prayer.
The second most common word in the New Testament is “petition.” And this focuses on my need. It’s the idea of, “to ask.” It has the idea: My inability to handle the situation.
And so, after I begin to pray like that, then the second aspect, I am coming to God, and I am admitting, I can’t do this! Part of your anxiety – what? It’s control. At 2:30, 3, it was like, What about this? What about this? Well, behind the, What about this? What about this? What about this? What about this? is, What am I supposed to do?
And I am wired, I want to fix that, I want to fix that, I want to fix this, I want to fix that. I can’t! But in prayer, it’s, This is who God is, and the second step in prayer is, This is who I am. God, I can’t do this. I don’t know how to respond to my wife. I don’t know how to forgive one of my kids. My boss is just, my supervisor. Lord, reverently, Lord, he’s a jerk, or, she’s a jerk, and she is unreasonable. I don’t know what to do or how to do it in this situation. I don’t know how we are going to pay the bills. I have no idea…
And when you pray, then you are coming and you are saying to God, I need your help. I can’t do this. I’m not bargaining, I’m not manipulating, I’m not telling God, Well, I’ll do this if You do this. I’m not trying to cut a deal. God doesn’t cut deals.
This is a kind of prayer where you begin with worship and adoration and you remember who God really is – His majesty and His power and His wonder, and His intimate concern for you.
And then second, you come and you say, I have needs and I am going to ask. I am going to ask for Your help.
One of the ways that has been very, very helpful for me, because this is my little journal, it’s not fancy and I just use, often, something at the drug store, a little spiral notebook. But when I am in my 2:30, 3 A.Ms, and, often, I can pray and worship and turn it over to Him and I fall back to sleep. But I’m going to be honest with you, there are a lot of times it’s 2:30, 3, then it’s 3:01, then it’s 3:15, then it’s 3:48 and I’m going, Forget it. I’m going to be up soon anyway.
And I just, okay, when things are inside your mind, they grow. See, what happens is when things are inside of our head, especially at night in the dark, they grow and grow and grow and bigger and bigger and bigger.
What I can tell you is, get up and write it down. Two days ago. And it was like, so, there were things I couldn’t resolve, but, I mean, my need.
And I put a little box, Lord, show me exactly what and how to teach on inner peace this week, from Philippians chapter 4. I didn’t know! And the next one was powerfully direct. And there are a couple that I am praying for, that they are going to make a really big decision, and it’s going to have huge implications in their lives.
And so I prayed for them and, Show them what to do in their journey. Help me finish all the work. I ask You to use it greatly, but help me know what to do.
The next one is: Grant me discernment and wisdom as I assess and evaluate what needs to be done. There was a specific situation at Living on the Edge. I didn’t know what to do. Do you see what I’m doing?
I’m getting them out of my head, I have adored God, I am telling Him I can’t do it, and then I am just saying, You know what I’m going to do? I’m putting it right here. Now, by the way, this little envelope, you know what this is? As I pray and as I listen and as I give it to Him, often He will say, You need to make this phone call, you need to do this. This is my to-do list. This is my God list. This is my to-do list.
And I jot that down and then it’s, Okay, I can’t do this, but I am going to trust You. Now, the next word is very interesting. It says, “With thanksgiving.”
It is to be freely giving gratitude to God, to see Him in the midst, and to give thanks in the midst that He is sovereign, that He is good, that He is in control.
A.T. Robertson is the great, great, Greek scholar and he says this about this. He says, “In this passage, we are called to adore and praise God; to come admitting the desperation of our need and our prayers; and like salt and pepper, they are salt and peppered with thanksgiving.”
And so even as you are adoring God, you might go, Wow, but, Lord, You have made everything, God, thank you for the way You made my wife. God, thank You that You took care of my kids. God, thank you!
And in your adoration, you sort of slip into thanksgiving. And then, Here’s my need and here’s this need, and I don’t know about this, but, Lord, thank You that two years ago, this was like this, and You came through then. So it’s like salting and peppering your entire prayer with this thanksgiving and this, God, thank You for what You have done.
See, you can’t give thanks without recognizing, I may not have it all figured out, and I may not have my emotions where I want them to be, but to give thanks by faith, recognizes a sovereign, good, kind, all-powerful God who is just, and who intimately cares for me. And so, by faith, I thank You.
You know, it’s a fallen world and in the world, are you ready for this promise? Jesus said I would have trouble. He said I would have tribulation. He said there would be difficulty. I thank You. You never promised to eliminate that. You promised to be with me, You promised that You would give me Your peace right in the center, and in the midst of it.
The final word is a word for “request.” And here, it’s just to outline your specific concerns. It’s, literally, it’s like a grocery list.
Some of you who have been praying, Oh, God, give me a better marriage! Oh, God, work things out at work. Oh, God, would you help my son or my daughter or someday, some way, somehow to really walk with You? No. No, no, no, no.
This says you take to God specifically, what do you want Him to do? My little bullets here, they are very specific. When we have had financial needs, Lord, would You give us five hundred and twenty-one dollars to pay this? Lord, will You change my son’s attitude with regard to that? Father, would You show me exactly what to do to love my wife in a way that makes sense to her, because I don’t know?
Very, very, very specific. And He says, “Bring your grocery list.” And what I do is I write them down. You don’t have to write yours all down. But if it’s not working for you, try my way. And I write them down and then I put a little box – I have years, years, and years of journals that have little boxes. And in the little boxes, about ninety-eight percent of them have a check mark.
And next to the check mark, there is a date. And then after the date, there is usually a small scribbling of exactly how God answered.
And I am going to tell you, there are times where what I do to give thanks, and I feel overwhelmed, all I have to do is read the last two weeks or the last month or sometimes when I really struggling, I’ll go back and just pull a journal out from three or four years ago and think, Wow, it was way harder then. You came through. The God who is faithful in my yesterday is going to be faithful in my tomorrow.
Okay, at the very bottom, it says, “Promise,” the “why.” Are you ready? Peace and anxiety cannot, write the word, “coexist.” Here’s His promise: He will give you a supernatural peace that surpasses understanding.
The circumstances may not change, the people may not change, but you will. And your experience will.
Second, anxiety and biblical prayer cannot coexist. You can’t pray through like this honestly, from the heart, and still be anxious. Now, by the way, you might be surprised how often and how many times, every day, I have to do this.
God wants you and wants me, as His children, to be people of peace. I remember coming back from my first year of college. And I trusted God in June, went away to college, met a man who discipled me, helped me get in the Bible on a regular basis, I was still a really new Christian, didn’t know very much. But God was speaking to me, so I was learning to pray. And I would get up in the morning and read the Bible and just talk to God, personally.
And I remember coming home and about two days in, my dad goes, “You changed. You’re different.” I said, “Well, what do you mean?” “No, you’ve changed. What is going on?” I said, “Dad, what are you talking about?”
And I’ll never forget, he looked at me and he said, “You’ve got peace. Where did you get it? There’s something completely different about you.”
Do you realize that one of the most powerful testimonies that we will ever have on the face of the earth is not that we have our lives all together? It’s not how that everything goes great for us who are followers of Jesus.
It’s that in the midst of our cancer, in the midst of our injustice, in the midst of our struggles with our family, in the midst of our loneliness, in the midst of our depression, in the midst of circumstances that are so unfair or so difficult, that we walk through them with this supernatural peace. And the world shakes their head and says, “How could that be?” The summary is: Biblical prayer is God’s antidote to anxiety.
This week, here’s your assignment: Every time you feel anxious, and for some, that’s a lot, every time you feel anxious, remember the following word picture. When anxiety pounds at the door of your heart, let prayer answer it, as you run into your Father’s arms.
When anxiety pounds at the door of your heart, you start to lose the peace, let prayer, biblical prayer – adoration, petition, thanksgiving, request – and run to your Father’s arms.
Your heavenly Father says, “Will you run into My arms? Would you biblically pray, cast your care upon Me, and run into My arms? I will love you and I will protect you and I will provide for you.”