Anxiety – Part 4 – Turning Your Thoughts to Prayers

This is Part 4 of a series on Anxiety. Read previous posts here.

Now that we’ve looked at the ground anxiety can grow in, and considered some ways to cultivate peace, what do we do when anxiety sneaks through? Inevitably we will find ourselves stressed. What then?

This brings us to the famous verse in Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, with prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God.”

What do you do instead of pray? Where do you go with your anxiety? 

The “do not be anxious about anything” part is actually easy for us. No one wants to be anxious! So where do you go? 

You see anxiety comes when you don’t know how something is going to turn out, when you don’t have control. We don’t know, we aren’t in control, so we get anxious. Then what? The bible says we should pray, but what do you do instead? 

 

Where do you go with your anxiety?

 

That’s why many of us turn to alcohol, or Netflix, or food, or our phones and devices—we are looking for a way to be at a peace, we’re trying to quiet the storm of our hearts, but we’re not going to Jesus.  

Do you know how much of your sin before God is about you not going to God with your desires and burdens, your wants and your anxieties? 

Before you get angry and frustrated at someone, before you sin sexually, before all that was a decision to not go to God with your anxiety.

 

EATING DISORDERS

Let me give you one example, eating disorders. Eating disorders are a manifestation of anxiety seeking control. 

  • Up to 75% of women have disordered eating, an unhealthy relationship with food. 
  • 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 
  • 25% of college aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight management technique
  • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives
  • Half of all female students who diet are of normal weight

What’s happening here? 

We are anxious over something, broken about something, or maybe at one time you felt out of control, and controlling your eating becomes a sort of savior for you. 

 

Much of your sin before God is about you not going to God with your desires.

 

One gal said this as she recognized that instead of trying to deal with her anxiety, which she couldn’t control, she turned to anorexia, which she could: “I think for me, because I didn’t really have the words to describe the other stuff that was going on, I developed an eating disorder as almost a socially acceptable way of acting out the anxiety that I was feeling internally.” 

 

PRAYER 

Instead of being anxious about anything, we are to pray about everything. Prayer is simply talking to God. Because of Jesus, we get to talk to the God of the Universe, and he actually listens. 

Let me show you something very simple, but it just might change your life: 

Anxiety = talking to yourself
Prayer = talking to God 

All those thoughts you have, all those anxieties, your constant self-talk, your insecurities, your stress…what if you just added one word at the beginning… 

Instead of just thinking, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m not in control, what will they say, I’m nervous, I can’t do this.” 

What if you added one word to the beginning of your thoughts: “Jesus.” 

“Jesus, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“Jesus, I can’t do this.”
“Jesus, I’m anxious.” 

 That’s prayer. 

Do you know what it means to be a child of God now? It means he invites you to prayer. 

 

What if you added one word to the beginning of your thoughts: “Jesus.”

 

Listen to God’s invitation, read this slowly:

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you. (Psalm 55:22)
Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

 

Anxiety = talking to yourself
Prayer = talking to God

___________

This post is an excerpt of Jim’s sermon, Anxiety. Watch it here.

Read the rest of this blog series on Anxiety here.

Jim’s latest book, Jesus For You, launches this Fall. Get a free chapter and more here.
Read other blog posts here.
Listen to sermons here.

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