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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
A person who is anxious is being pulled in two different directions. Hope pulls in one direction, while fear pulls in the opposite direction. As a result, the person is spiritually pulled apart.
As a cure for an anxious spirit, Paul doesn’t just say, “Pray about it.” Rather he uses three words to describe how we are to go about presenting our requests to God:
1. Present your requests to God by prayer
The word “prayer” carries the idea of adoration, devotion, and worship. Prayeris indeed spending time with God, but with a worshipful attitude. When we are spending time alone with God worshipping him, it’s hard for anxiety and worry to get a foothold.
2. Present your requests to God by petition
“Petition” is a heart-felt sharing of our needs and has a connection to spiritual intensity. Paul illustrates the idea in Romans 15 when he invites his readers to “join him in the struggle by praying,” as well as in Colossians 4 when he writes about “wrestling in prayer.”
3. Present your requests to God with thanksgiving
Far too often, we are eager to ask but slow to appreciate. An attitude of thanksgiving should accompany the time we spend with God.
Anxiety is a thief that robs us of our joy. How do we prevent this thief from breaking in and stealing our joy? We must have good security, of course.
The result of the right kind of prayer is that the peace of God stands guard like a soldier over our heart and mind, keeping out anything that would cause us to be anxious. In other words, God’s peace gives us a secure mind.
Prayerful people are peaceful people. Even though this peace is beyond our understanding, we know one thing for sure. It is always sufficient.