3 Steps to Overcome Anxiety

Day: 20 | Plan: Christ Alone

Today’s Reading: Philippians 4

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) "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."

Anxiety. Not one of us is completely immune to its vicious attacks.

Most of us have had a personal struggle with this peace stealer. Apparently so did the people of Philippi, evidenced by Paul’s choice to address the topic of anxiety in this closing portion of his letter to them.

And I’m so thankful the Lord had Paul speak into this struggle. It reminds us that God doesn’t want us to live eaten up with anxiety. He doesn’t want us walking through our days or lying in our beds at night tormented by anxious thoughts. The ones that can be found swarming our minds and attacking like a bunch of bloodthirsty mosquitoes.

Even Jesus Himself speaks to this topic when He tells us in John 14:27 that He left us with peace. Peace. Not worry. Not fear. Not anxiety. And in today’s passage, Paul spells out for us how we can begin living lives guarded by and at rest in the peace that is freely ours.

The portion of Scripture that immediately comes to mind when fear is mentioned is Philippians 4:6-7: “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."

I love these verses. I made sure I taught my kids these verses when they were young. But as I’ve spent time studying the whole of Philippians 4, I’ve noticed something really interesting. There are four very powerful words that come right before the "do not be anxious" part. Philippians 4:5 ends with, "The Lord is near."

When we put the verses we just read about being anxious for nothing in their context, and see how God promises His nearness, they take on a whole new meaning.

Because the Lord is near, we don’t have to be anxious. We have the assurance of His presence that soothes us, sustains us and empowers us. Much like a child finds safety and security when they crawl into bed with their parents after a bad dream, our souls can find comfort and rest when we cry out to our heavenly Father in our times of distress. He is near.

And if we read a bit further, we find even more about accessing the peace God says is ours.

Philippians 4:8 encourages us: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

This tells me it’s God’s presence plus His promises that chase away our anxious thoughts. In other words, God instructs us to "park our minds" on that which is true and right and worthy of praise. And there is nothing truer or more praiseworthy for us to meditate on than God’s Word.

Make no mistake, sweet friends, the enemy wants us to feel hopeless. He wants us to live enslaved to our worries and fears. But God wants us to know that we don’t have to let anxiety rob us of our peace, our hope or our joy another single day.

So instead of allowing anxious thoughts to wreak havoc in our hearts and minds, let’s try these three steps:

1. Pray Honestly — Prayer orients our lives towards God and redirects our hearts and minds to focus on the things of God. It is our way of saying we are absolutely dependent on Him. And we have full permission to pour our hearts out to Him honestly. We can bring every fear, every request, every need to Him without hesitation or apology. (1 Peter 5:7) And when we do, we’ll find that prayer and peace walk hand-in-hand.

2. Read God’s Truths — We can intentionally think on truth by seeking out Scriptures that speak to the issues we are facing. When we tuck God’s truth into our hearts, we are arming ourselves with the most powerful tool available — His Word! (Hebrews 4:12)

3. Verbalize Trust in Him — We can quote the Scriptures we’ve memorized all throughout our day. There is tremendous power in quoting the verse slowly and intentionally – claiming the truths contained within and verbalizing our belief in God out loud.

Yes, I’m convinced the more we draw near to God in prayer and the more we fill our minds with His Word, the more crowded out our fears and anxieties will become.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the tender ways You offer to help me when my heart feels anxious and fearful. Instead of shaming me for my feelings, You offer to sit with me in the midst of them. Instead of expecting me to pull myself together, You offer me Your Words that hold me together and bring me peace. You are such a good and gracious Father. One I know I can trust and call on at all times. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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