There are going to be times in your life where you will feel anxious, nervous, afraid, worried, frustrated, and angry. Those are normal feelings everyone has. However, those feelings of anxiety should be a light on your life’s dashboard telling you, you need to check in with God. You need to talk to God about what you are nervous or upset about. God does not want you going through life driven by your anxieties, He wants you to manage them rather than your anxieties managing you. God gives us seven practices of peace that help will help you remain aware, calm, and present for God and others so you can focus on what God would have you to do and be a blessing to others. These seven practices are found in 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 near. Do 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)

God gives you seven practices that help you defend yourself against your anxieties.

  • Practice #1 is the practice of joy. God’s Word says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice!” This is learning how to apply the attitude and power of spiritual joy based on your relationship with Jesus in unhappy situations. This is where knowing the difference between joy and happiness is crucial.
  • Practice #2 is the practice of gentleness. God’s Word says, “Let your gentle spirit be known to all people.” This is learning how to express gentleness in stressful and anxious moments of life. The Holy Spirit has given you a gentle spirit and He wants that gentle spirit to dominate your life regardless of who you encounter. This will help you to remain calm when facing difficult situations.
  • Practice #3 is the practice of awareness. God’s Word says, “The Lord is near.” When you are aware of how big and awesome your Lord is it makes what you are anxious about not so overwhelming. This is developing the skill of being aware of the Lord’s presence, His return, and His glory.
  • Practice #4 is the practice of calmness. God’s Word says, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Another way to say that is, “Be calm.” When you are calm, you are composed. When you are composed, you are able to focus and be present to do what God wants you to do and to bless people the way God wants you to bless them. You are able to hear God more clearly and to respond to Him more faithfully.

Another weapon to defend yourself against anxiety that God has given you is prayer. Practice #5 is the practice of prayer. We are focusing on this one today. You can talk to God about what is irritating, annoying, worrying, or concerning you. Until you learn to pray, you are going to struggle with your anxieties. Prayer does not remove the cause of anxiety, but God uses it to provide a shield against them. You cannot successfully handle all your anxieties on your own. You need help. Prayer, talking to God, says, “I need help.” Once you embrace that, you begin to embrace peace.

We are going to give our attention to verse 6 today. God’s Word says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (NASB).

The essence of anxiety is that we do not trust God to handle the circumstance.

  • In a sense we take responsibility for what rightly should be His responsibility. Instead of letting God be in charge of it, we take charge of it. Anxiety wants to control the situation.
  • Another aspect of anxiety is that it wants to put more importance and significance on something than it deserves. The clutter becomes more important than the children. The mess in the kitchen becomes more important than the marriage. Anxiety has a way of making the small things big and the big things small.

When anxiety shows up, a major weapon against it is prayer. Talk to God about what you are anxious about. What bothers you? The mess, the noise, the doctor’s appointment, finances, or something else. Whatever it is talk to God about it. The Psalmist understood this when he wrote, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you” (Psalm 55:22, NLT). One of the ways you give your burdens to the Lord is to talk to God about them.

The Need for Prayer

Last time we looked at the need for prayer. Look at verse 6 closely, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer….” Let’s stop right there, but in everything by prayer. Anxiety can show up in everything, but you can also talk to God in everything. That’s what your Heavenly Father wants you to do. We also took a closer look at having an everything mindset. An everything mindset is giving everything to God in some way. You are giving your trials, troubles, problems, frustrations, and difficulties to Him in some way. One of those ways is talking to God about what you are anxious about, nervous about, worried or frustrated or angry about. You need to talk to God about what is bothering you. We looked at all that and more last time.

The Types of Prayer

When you are talking to God about your anxieties, God specifically mentions four types of prayers that will help you. They are general prayers, pleading, thanksgiving and requests. We see all of these in verse 6, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (NASB). You are in a battle against your anxiety. See these four types of prayers as four different weapons to combat your worries, fears, and frustrations. God has given these to you, so use them. Let’s take a closer look at these spiritual weapons.

by prayer

First, we are told to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer….” This word prayer (proseuche) is the general term for prayer and includes all kinds of prayers. In addition to those mentioned in verse 6 there are other types of prayers you need to apply to your prayer life as a follower of Jesus that will help you deal with your anxiety, fears, and worries. We will look at the three mentioned in verse 6 next week. God’s Word has a lot to say about prayer and anxiety. So, here we go.

Prayer of adoration

First, the prayer of adoration. Adoration is praising God for who He is. This is where you say, “God, you are wonderful!” God, you’re the creator, you’re perfect, holy, wonderful, loving, gracious, wise, compassionate, and full of mercy. You are all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present. He is worthy of praise, adoration, worship, respect, and honor. This is what the Psalmist is doing in Psalm 104:1 when he says, “Let all that I am praise the Lord. O Lord my God, how great you are! You are robed with honor and majesty” (NLT).

There is spiritual power in praising God. When you are praising God, you are not asking for anything. You are simply declaring to God how great He is. You are telling Him how wonderful and awesome He is. God is perfect and all sufficient. God does not need you to praise Him, but you need to praise Him because it does something for you. It reminds you of how big God is and how small your problem is.

Picture: Paper clip and my truck

Let me illustrate this with a picture. I went outside my house the other day and held up a paper clip and took a picture of it. If you don’t know what’s going on, the paper clip looks as big or bigger than my truck. The reason why it looks bigger than my truck is because I’m closer to the paper clip than I am the truck. Is it possible that your problem looks bigger than your God because you are closer to your problem than you are to God?! When you are closer to your problem than you are to God, your problem will not only look bigger than God, but it will also cause God to be blurry to you and its hard to see what God is doing or what He wants you to do.

What praise does, is it pushes the problem you are stressed out about to the side for a moment so you can get your vision and focus on God and be reminded how big and awesome your God is without your problem blurry your spiritual vision.

Prayer of lament

Another type of prayer is called a prayer of lament. This is a prayer expressing sorrow, pain, grief, regret or confusion. This is where you say, “God, I am hurting!” You hear this in Psalm 88 which says,

  • “O Lord, God of my salvation (He offers up a praise. He declares God as the Lord of his life. He declares God is his salvation. Then he lays before God his sorrow, his pain, his grief, and confusion. The prayer starts out as a praise then moves into a lament),
  • I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. (Notice his prayer is both during the day and night. What he is lamenting about and troubled about is on his mind all the time. He is hurting)
  • Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles (Nothing seems to be going right. Everything seems to be falling apart. He is hurting. He is lamenting),
  • and death draws near. I am as good as dead (that is a statement of hopelessness. It’s over, I can’t win, I’ve lost, I am as good as dead, why even go on. He is hurting. He is lamenting),
  • like a strong man with no strength left (He gave all he had, he tried, his strength is now gone, he is worn out, tired, and weary. He has nothing left to give. He is hurting. He is lamenting).
  • They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave (That’s his way of saying he feels like people have forgotten him. They have given up on him. They have left him for dead. When you look at the context of these verses he is referring to his friends [vs. 8]. He feels abandoned).
  • I am forgotten, cut off from your care (Not only does he feel abandoned by his friends, but he feels forgotten by God. To Him it feels like God doesn’t care. He is hurting. He is lamenting).
  • You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths. Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave you have engulfed me” (NLT). He is now blaming God for His pain, grief, loneliness, sorrow, and confusion. These feelings come in waves. He is hurting. He lamenting.

Your heavenly Father deserves your praise and adoration, but He also deserves for you to be honest and authentic about how you feel when you are hurting.

  • He wants you to lament.
  • He wants you to lay your pain at His feet and tell Him all about it.
  • He wants to hear how lonely you are, how forgotten you feel, how left behind you feel, and how worn out you are.
  • He wants to hear about your pain, your grief, your sorrow, your loneliness, and your confusion.

Prayer of deliverance

Another type of prayer is the prayer of deliverance. These are prayers asking God to save us or rescue us or deliver us from challenging or dangerous situations or from spiritual strongholds. This is where you say, “God, I feel trapped!” You see these types of prayers throughout the Bible. Let me show you two of them.

In Psalms 107:6 we are told, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (ESV). God I am in trouble. I feel trapped. I need your help you. Deliver me out of this.

Then in Matthew 6:13 Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray and one of the things He tells them is to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (NASB). The word “deliver” (rhuomai) means to grab and drag along the ground. It is a Greek word used by soldiers. It was used to describe the process of seeing a wounded soldier on the battlefield and going to get him and dragging him to safety before the enemy could come capture him.

The word “evil” (poneros) refers to anything that opposes good. Anything that corrupts purity, faithfulness, or your character. This evil can refer to the evil one, evil people, evil environment, or the evil within you (sinful nature).

To pray “deliver us from evil” is asking God to send someone to help rescue you from either the evil one, the evil around you, or the evil within you. This is saying, “Heavenly Father, I am wounded and I have fallen. I need help. I need you to send someone to help me get back to safety. I need you to rescue me and deliver me.” Then God sends one of His soldiers with a helping hand, encouraging word, or rebuke and grabs you dragging you back to safety. Sometimes that soldier is a pastor, sometimes that soldier is your spouse, your parent, a friend, a counselor, or a stranger. But somehow God is going to send someone to give you wisdom, to help carry your burden, and to get you back to safety to where you can heal and be ready for your next battle.

Prayer of confession

Another type of prayer is the prayer of confession. These are prayers of remorse and repentance of sin. This is where you say, “God, I have sinned. I have messed up.” You are confessing your sin, selfishness, and rebellion to God. Let me show you one example of this in Bible.

We see a prayer of confession in Psalm 51:1-8.

“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love (Notice his prayer is based on God’s unfailing love. Always base your prayers on God’s character). Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night (Its on his mind. His conscience is bother greatly by it. He can’t believe what he has done). Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me (He is referring to his sinful nature that everyone is born with). But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again… (His sin has robbed him of his joy. He wants it back again) (NLT).

Prayer of guidance

Another type of prayer is the prayer of guidance. This is a prayer for when you need counsel, direction, wisdom, or light in times of confusion and trouble. This is where you pray, “God, give me direction.” When you pray for guidance, you are praying to have God guide you in His way instead of your way. You are asking God to direct your path. You are not sure what to do and you need His direction and counsel.

You get a glimpse of this in Psalm 25:4-5, “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me (Notice that he realizes His guidance is going to come from God’s truth, not how he feels or what he wants), for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you” (NLT).  

Conclusion

When you are anxious approach God by prayer. There are going to be times you will feel nervous, afraid, anxious, worried, frustrated or angry. Your God wants you to talk to Him about it. Choose the weapon of prayer.

  • Adoration: “God, you are wonderful!”
  • Lament: “God, I am hurting!”
  • Deliverance: “God, I feel trapped!”
  • Confession: “God, I have sinned!”
  • Guidance: “God, give me direction!”