One of the weapons against anxiety is awareness, spiritual awareness. The devil does not want you to be aware of what he is doing, what God is doing, or what is happening inside you. The devil wants you to be oblivious to what you are thinking, feeling, and doing. He doesn’t want to see God at work in your life or around your life. Awareness implies vigilance in observing what is occurring around you.

Being spiritually aware provides several things.

Spiritual Protection

For one, being spiritually aware provides spiritual protection. This is why God says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (NLT). As you grow spiritually, you will become more aware of the devil and when he is up to one of his schemes in your life, your family, or your church. This is why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “We won’t be taken advantage of by Satan, because we are well aware of his schemes” (CEB). Spiritual awareness helps create spiritual preparation which provides spiritual protection.

Spiritual motivation

Another thing, being spiritually aware provides spiritual motivation. The Psalmist said to God in Psalm 26:3, “For I am ever aware of your faithfulness, and your loyalty continually motivates me” (NET). There is something about being aware of the faithfulness and loyalty of God in your life that motivates you to live for Him. One of the reasons why some people are not motivated to live for God is because they don’t know Him well enough and are not aware of Him working in their life and around their life.

Spiritual perspective

Another thing, being spiritually aware provides a spiritual perspective. Listen to Psalm 39:4 which says, “Lord, make me aware of my end and the number of my days so that I will know how short-lived I am” (CSB). This is the Psalmist’s way of saying, “Lord, let me understand how short my life really is so that I can appreciate the life I have while I have it so that I can live it fully for your glory.” Being spiritually aware about your life gives you a perspective about your life that you cannot have any other way. If you know that your life is short, then you will also know that the problems within that life are even shorter. Being spiritually aware gives you a spiritual perspective on your life and on the problems in your life.

Spiritual stability

One more thing, being spiritually aware provides spiritual stability. Listen to what the Psalmist said in Psalm 16:8, “I am always aware of the Lord’s presence; he is near, and nothing can shake me” (GNT). When he says “nothing can shake me” he means nothing can shake him lose. The Psalmist is saying, “I am aware of the Lord’s presence. Because God is near, I will not be moved away from Him, I will not be shaken from Him. I’ve got a good thing going with God and I’m not letting go.” Spiritual awareness helps you to have a tight grip on God and His ways when the devil and the world are trying to pull you away from God and His ways. Spiritual awareness provides spiritual stability.

With all that said, let’s take another look at Philippians 4:4-9.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is nearDo not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things. As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (NASB)

We started unpacking the phrase, the Lord is near, last week. Let’s review and then pick up where we left off. Paul does something interesting. In the mix of how to deal with anxiety he says, the Lord is near. Why would Paul say that in the middle of his teaching about dealing with anxiety and experiencing God’s peace? It helps to see this in context.

  • If the statement the Lord is near is connected to what was just said in verse 5 then you can say, “I can exhibit a gentle spirit in all circumstances because of the nearness of the Lord.”
  • If you connect it to the following statement in verse 6 then you can say, “Because of the nearness of my Lord I do not need to be anxious about anything.”

Either way, there is no need for you to let your anxieties control and govern your emotions, thoughts, and decisions.

However, you do need to be aware that the Lord is near. You have to let that truth dominate your thinking and perspective about everything. The attitude of awareness is a weapon against anxiety, especially when it comes to being aware of your Lord.

The statement, the Lord is near, refers to three important things and they all help you to manage your anxiety. It refers to the presence of the Lord, the return of the Lord, and to the glory of the Lord. Let’s look at each one and how they help you manage your anxieties.

The Lord’s presence is near

First, when the Bible says the Lord is near it is referring to the Lord’s presence is near. When near is viewed as the Lord’s presence being close it refers to God’s willingness to be near to help, guide, protect, and other things. As a follower of Jesus, you must be alert to His divine presence. The presence or absence of inner peace will be in direct proportion to your awareness of the presence of the Lord. Throughout His Word, God mentions several occasions when you will experience His nearness and presence and they all are in the context of anxiety or stress or conflict or fear. Let me show you some of them.  The first three we looked at last week, but let’s review briefly. 

When you are on His mission

Number one, you can expect to experience the Lord’s nearness when you are on mission with Him. His mission is to make disciples, to make and develop followers of Him. Jesus gives the Great Commission to go and make disciples and then says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 20:18-20). Jesus is saying, “No matter how stressful or difficult it is to make disciples My presence will be with you to help you, guide you, and give you wisdom while you make disciples.” If you want to experience the presence of Jesus, then make disciples.

When you know His character

Number two, you can expect to experience the Lord’s nearness when you know His character. Your God is a big God! The greater you know and understand that your God is all-present, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, forgiving, gracious, and merciful then you are able to experience His peace in every situation (Psalm 139:7-10, Hebrews 13:5).

When you take shelter in Him

Number three, you can expect to experience the Lord’s nearness when you take shelter in Him. Psalm 73 says, “But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter” (v. 28, NLT). Just like a tornado shelter protects you from storms, your Sovereign Lord can protect you from unnecessary damage from the storms of life. When you are in the shelter of God you can experience His peace in the midst of that storm.

We looked at all of that last time in greater detail. Let’s move on to something new.

When you talk to Him

Number four, another way to experience the nearness of God is when you talk to Him. Even though we will take a closer look at the importance of prayer as a weapon against anxiety later, I do want to mention Psalm 145:18, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (NASB). The Lord wants you to call on Him. He wants to talk to you. He wants to hear from you. His Word says, “call on Him in truth.” This means be real with God. Be honest with your Lord. This is where you say, “Lord, I’m afraid and don’t know what to do” or “Lord, I’m lonely and I don’t know how to handle it” or “Lord, I’ve gotten myself in a mess and I need to know how to make it right.” Call on Him in truth. This means you might say, “Lord, I done a bad thing and I’m asking for your forgiveness.” If you want to experience God’s presence and become aware of it then call on Him in truth. Be honest and open with God. The Lord is near to those who talk to Him.

This is why in Philippians 4:6 we are told, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (NASB). Talking to God is one of the ways to experience God’s presence and guard yourself against anxiety, worry, and fear.

When you are hurting

Number five, you can expect to experience God’s presence when you are hurt. When your heart has been broken and hurt, you need the presence of God. God knows this and that’s why He tells us in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (NASB). I love the way The Message paraphrases this, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath” (MSG). If you are discouraged and have given up hope, the Lord is near to rescue you and to give you hope again, strength again, and enthusiasm for life again.

A broken heart occurs when someone you loved very much dies or they willingly end a relationship with you. They break up with you, divorce you, or they break a vow they made to you. It hurts enough to feel like your heart has been broken. It’s in this brokenness you will find and experience the presence of God. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. If you are hurting today, He is present, willing, and able to restore your heart. All the anxiety you feel because of your broken heart can be comforted with God’s presence.

One of the greatest ways to manage anxiety is to practice the presence of the Lord, day by day, moment by moment. Don’t underestimate the power of presence.

  • Think of the level of impact on your mind and emotions when a person walks into a room you love, and you know they love you. Consider the influence a loving parent has on a child during a stormy night.
  • Think about the comfort of the presence of a friend when you are going through grief.
  • Now, imagine if the presence of God was just as real as those people in your life. Imagine the impact that would have on how you would see your circumstances and what decisions you would make.

The presence or nearness of God does not necessarily mean your situation changes, but that your perspective of the situation changes. This is why Psalm 23 says, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (v. 4, NLT). God does not remove the valley, He walks with you through it. He says He will be close beside you. He will provide you protection and comfort. The Lord is near. His presence changes how you see your valley.

Conclusion

Remember, one of the weapons God has given to you is spiritual awareness. God wants you to be aware of His presence. He wants you to know He is near. He is close. You are not alone. Even when you cannot see Him God is there. When you cannot feel His presence, He is there. It is by faith you know He is present and near. Trust Him. Believe Him.

  • Talk to God, “God help me this week to be more aware of your presence in my life.”
  • Each day this week say, “God’s presence is with me today and no matter what I face He will guide me through it and His word will be lamp to my feet.”
  • Whatever is stressing you out, God has a way for you to work it out.
  • Be aware, calm, and present.