Dear brothers and sisters,
In this series we are talking about overcoming worry. Last week we talked about worry as a choice, and how we can choose to seek first the Kingdom of God. However, when we face extremely serious and challenging situations in our lives like sickness or unemployment, it can feel trite and unhelpful to suggest “don’t worry.” Because of the particular circumstances of our lives, we might be tempted to just dismiss Jesus’ instruction to stop worrying. Notice what St. Paul says to the Christian community in Philippi, just as he finds himself in prison, in chains: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). Paul does not say to rejoice in your circumstances, but “in the Lord,” because it is honestly impossible to “rejoice always” in our circumstances. Paul goes on: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God (4:6). Worry or anxiety is an opportunity to pray. Some people who are worriers could become first-class prayers if they took this verse seriously – if whenever they were tempted to worry, they turned to prayer. Notice the details Paul mentions: he says to praise God, and make specific petitions. Very specific prayers and petitions require faith, because if God does not answer the prayer in the way we desire, it requires a tremendous trust that his will be done in his way and in his time. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (4:7). Even if God does not answer the prayer in the way we want, we can trust that he will bring good from it. If we pray with praise of God, making specific petitions, then God’s peace will guard our hearts from worry. Ultimately, worry takes away our joy and our peace, but prayer enhances it.
How do you usually handle your worry? Are your methods effective or ineffective?
Read aloud Philippians 4:6. Do you find this instruction easy to follow? Why or why not?
In light of your current concerns, what specific prayers of supplication do you need to make to God?
Paul advises us to pray with a spirit of Thanksgiving when we are tempted toward anxiety. Think over the past week. What do you need to thank your heavenly Father for?
Read aloud Philippians 4:7. What does it mean to you to say the peace of God surpasses all human understanding?
What is your source of biggest concern or temptation to worry at the moment? How can this group help you?