November 15, 2013
By Skip Heitzig
Worry is a huge problem. As used in the Bible, the word worry means to divide the mind. You know what that’s like: You try to focus on something but other things steal your thoughts away. It’s difficult to grab hold of God’s promises and walk in the Spirit when your mind is torn and divided.
Paul tells us, “Be anxious for nothing” (see Philippians 4:6-7 . That’s a command, and it’s such a strong one that it would be best rendered “stop worrying about even one single thing.” He is echoing Jesus, who told us not to worry about our life, or what we will eat or drink or wear (see Matthew 6:25-34).
Paul’s prescription for this problem is to replace what you’re worried about, those thoughts that consume your mind, with communication with God. Replace your fears, worry, and anxiety with prayer.
The word prayer is sometimes translated worship. When something bad happens, is our first instinct to stop and worship? No, usually we rush the throne of God and spout out the problem. But if we were to pause and to make our first trained instinct to worship God—to think about who we’re addressing and what He’s capable of, and give Him praise and honor—that would change our perspective!
Paul’s second word, supplication, means strong crying—begging God. Typically, that’s our first instinct. And the Bible says “Good! Pour out your heart to the Lord; make supplication.”
And the third is thanksgiving. Learn to thank God not just for the things you’ve prayed for that He has answered, but even when you pray for something and it doesn’t happen. “God, I’ve learned that You know better than I do. You know best. I’ve learned to trust You. You’ve brought this into my life because You want to mature me. Thank You.” Give God thanks because He is still God, and He knows what He’s doing. Learn to make that your first response.
In the story of the ten lepers that Jesus healed (see Luke 17:11-19 , only one came back to thank Him. That’s only ten percent. I wonder, with all the blessings God has given us, if only ten percent of the time we say, “God, I just want to thank You.” It may not be our first instinct, but it can become our learned instinct.
Only then come our requests, and the promise we have is the peace of God. Remember this: The peace that you experience (or don’t experience) as a Christian is related to the giving of thanks to God. I would even say that your peace is directly proportional to your ability to give thanks to God for the things He brings to your life.
Are you a peaceful person? I bet you thank God a lot. Are you an ill-at-ease person? I bet thanksgiving isn’t on your menu a lot of the time.
Charles Spurgeon said he would rather be blind, deaf and dumb than to not be thankful to God. So let’s make thanksgiving a habit, not only at this time, but throughout the year—our learned instinct.
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