Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6-7
Don’t worry? About anything? Yeah right!
I worry a lot. I worry about all kinds of things. I also pray about those things, usually a lot. It took me a long time, however, before I realized that I wasn’t really praying in the way this verse is talking about prayer.
So many of my prayers were about asking God for “help.” Some of my prayers were bargains that I was trying to make with God and I was never particularly bold in praying for what I really longed for.
I would pray prayers asking God to “help someone get better” rather than praying for complete healing through the power of the Holy Spirit. I would pray prayers like “God, if you just help me get through this busy season, then I’ll do better in serving you,” rather than praying boldly for God to eliminate stress.
But the problems of timidity and bargaining paled in comparison to the fact that my prayer life generally centered around the list of things I wanted rather than around God as someone with whom I had a relationship.
Imagine if all your conversations with the person you love most in the world focussed solely on what you wanted that person to do for you. The relationship would be over very quickly. Should we still ask? Of course—but the asking cannot be the basis of the relationship. In fact, when you do ask for something that is so important that it strikes at the core of your being, then you sure better trust that person. Trust is the bedrock of bold prayer.
Think, as well, about those facing major crises. Think of people who have lost their homes and their family members because war or natural disaster, or people who have been the victims of abuse or other kinds of violence. I don’t think many of them are praying, “God, I just need a bit of help to figure this out.” Wouldn’t most of them be praying, “God do something?” Many of them are entrusting their families to God, putting their trust in God, because they are living with in desperation.
This isn’t about praying the right kind of prayer. It’s about actually placing your trust in God to sort things out.
You treat God as God. You believe that God and only God has the power to see the entire picture and do what is right and what is needed. Entrusting God is believing that only God can sort out the mess of evil in the world and our lives.
When, instead of worrying, you really trust that God can handle it, when you do surrender and allow God to be God in your life, Philippians 4:7 happens: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
How does the worry get taken away, fully and completely? How does the fear disappear? We don’t know. The peace that we receive from God surpasses all understanding. We have no idea how it arrives. It is mysterious.
Are you worried about something? Go and pray. Give everything over to God. Let it all go. Trust God enough to give God everything. That takes a lot of trust. Whatever it is in your life right now, give it to God and actually trust God with it. Don’t let it be yours anymore. Pray that prayer.
Do that, but don’t expect that you will receive peace because you’ve prayed that way. Peace will come kind of out of left field. It’s a peace that no one understands. It’s a peace that comes only from God, and it protects your changed heart and mind.
Your step is trusting God. It is being willing to take your greatest worry or fear, and believe that God actually can and will do what is necessary to be done with you and in you.
Trust that God is active, and will in the end overcome all suffering and evil. Trust this One who loves you more than you can know, this One crucified and risen, this One who has the power to do far more than you could ever ask or imagine.
Adapted from Let God Be God: Give Control to the Only One Who Can Set You Free
Matt Brough is the pastor of Prairie Presbyterian Church and is the author of several books, including Let God Be God, Let God Be Present, Let God Send, and a series of fantasy adventure books for ages 8 and up. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada, with his wife, Cheryl, and their daughter, Juliet. You can contact Matt through his websites: mattbrough.com; prairiechurch.ca