Why Prayer is Necessary: #7 – To Obtain Freedom from Anxiety

Anxiety is a terrible thing.  It is a state of uneasiness and worry, of fearfulness and dread.  But prayer can make it all go away; when you pray God will help you to see that He is in control and that He loves you and cares for you.

When we are anxious, we think only of ourselves and of all the things we think we need.  Prayer, however, will take us to God and draw us away from ourselves so that we are more concerned for His kingdom and His righteousness. The practice of prayer will help us to see that life is more than food and clothing, and that we have no need to worry about those things—since God cares for us just as he cares for little birds and flowers (Matt. 6:25-29).          

If you are prone to anxiety, try to develop the habit of praying about everything.  And when you pray, instead of lingering in your anxiety, focus instead on God, honoring Him with thanksgiving and praise (Rom. 1:21).  As you pray with thanksgiving, taking all of your concerns to God, He will fill you with an incredible peace.  Here is the promise from Philippians 4:6-7:

Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Worry: Its Causes and Cure

The verse we will consider today is Matthew 6:34.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

This verse is a concluding verse on the subject of worry, which Jesus has been preaching on from the preceding 14 verses (vv. 19-33); hence, He uses the word “therefore” to begin the verse. The verse also extends the teaching. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, whom I have been following, says this: “[Jesus adds] an extension of His teaching…In adding this [verse] He carried the teaching [about worry] one step further.”

Here we see that Jesus personalizes worry. In effect, worry seems to have its own power. I would say that worry teams up with the demonic; the demons mean to use worry to overpower us and defeat us. Almost all of us are familiar with what worry does to us. It argues with us and tries to convince us to overthink things, to over-plan for tomorrow. And it has a very active imagination, and it will come up with all kinds of possibilities—things that could happen, troubles! I am a house painter. And when I have a job coming up that I think will be difficult, I tend to want to sit and plan it all out. Some of that wise—I’m not against planning—but when it keeps me up half the night, its not good. I really don’t need that much thought on all the potential problems.

Jesus here tells us that worrying about the future is futile and achieves nothing. It is pointless because we can’t do anything about it until we get there. We are to live one day at a time, dealing only with the worries of the day—the present. But when we stack onto our present worries tomorrows worries, we are overburdening ourselves for that day; we are lessening our efficiency for that day.

We could look at it this way. God has given us twelve hours in each day. In order to be efficient in doing the tasks for that day, we must learn to concentrate most on that one day, blocking out the past and also the possible future. Oh, I know that it is wise to do some planning and reflecting. But when we have finished doing that—and it shouldn’t take that much time—we must move on and concentrate on the now. And one reason why we should do that is because thoughts on the past and the future are not always reliable. I think it is better to take things (problems) to God in prayer as they arise. It is better to live adventurously, and in faith and obedience.

We should say to ourselves, “Here is a day which is going to bring me a few problems; I will need God’s grace and help along the way.” And we could claim certain promises, like 1 Corinthians10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

In conclusion, here are one or two thoughts:

Know that worry is always a failure to grasp and apply our faith. We apply it by learning to talk to ourselves and to convince ourselves to live by faith. We could say to ourselves with the Psalmist, “Why are thou cast down, O my soul? Hope in God…” (Ps. 43:5).

Then refuse any anxious thoughts. Faith in God is refusing to think about worrisome things and to set our mind toward God and trust in Him for today.

Living Like a Christian In a Non-Christian World

I have been writing on the subject of worry. We are still on that subject, from Matthew 6; this time our emphasis is on not living like a Gentile (a non-Christian), but rather like a Christian. In Matthew 6:31 through 33 Jesus said,

“Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ 32 “For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

We Are Not to Live Like the Non-Christian

In verse 32 Jesus mentions that the Gentiles (non-Christians) are always seeking food, drink, and clothing, and yet they always seem to be worried over it. It is because they have a wrong view of life, a view that leaves open the door to worry. Here are two life views of the non-Christian.

1. The theory of contingency. This view holds that everything in life is accidental, that things happen without rhyme or reason and we never know what will happen next.

2. The theory of fatalism. This is the idea that whatever happens we can’t do anything about it. It is the belief that there are unknow powers, good and bad, controlling things, but we can’t do anything about it—whatever happens, happens; whatever will be will be. Doris Day use to sing that song, remember?

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here’s what she said to me

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

The non-Christian still has these views about life, and so you can see why they worry. And many will try to overcome worry by one of two way.

1. Party it up. They say, we don’t know what’s going to happen, so we might as well live it up now, for tomorrow we may die.

2. Suicide. There are all kinds of suicide. There is drug overuse, or immorality, both are used to blot out a depressed life. And some go crazy and just flip out, killing others and themselves.

Living by Faith

The Christian view of life is quite different than the non-Christian view. We could call it…

The doctrine of certainty. In this view things are certain because we are in the hands of the living God.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that l all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Therefore, we believe that God has a perfect plan for our lives, and much of that plan we see from day to day as we read His word and walk in His Spirit.

But why do so many Christians still worry (like me)? The answer is easy. Though they are believers and have the Holy Spirit, they unknowingly live not by the Christian view of life, but by the non-Christian view. And sometimes what they may say in ordinary conversation betrays them. They may say something like, “Well, we never know what the future holds.”

The answer to a worried life, of course, is to build up our faith; to constantly remind ourselves that we are a child of God and that we were meant to live by faith. Here are four things you can do to build up your faith in God.

1. Put every crisis in the context of your faith.

2. When faced with a crisis ask yourself, will my conduct show me and others that I am a Christian and that I belong to a higher realm.

3. Know that you will never be in any situation that is outside of God’s love and care.

4. When faced with any situation in life, know that you should seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and then believe that all other things will be taken care of by God (read Matthew 6:33).

How Birds and Flowers Can Help a Christian

Our text for this blog is Matthew 6:25-30, where Jesus is giving a sermon to His followers.

Matthew 6:25-30

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

For many, food, drink, and clothing are the whole of their life. It is all they think about. And the world is doing its best to get us to live on that level. But Jesus has said that we should not be anxious about those things. And He points out two things in nature that will help us in that area—birds and flower.

BIRDS

Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air [Look at and think about them].”

  1. They don’t sow or reap or gather.
  2. Yet God our Father feeds them.
  3. And we are better (closer to God) than they are; we are His children. So, He definitely will care for us.
  4. Also, what good will it do anyway to worry about these things. Will worrying change anything? Will it extend your life?

Let’s look at the birds and all humans, how God provides for them.

Birds: They do nothing to provide for themselves, yet God provides for them.

Humans: They have to sow and reap and gather for themselves, but then God alone will give the increase.

In both cases God provides. And though man must enter into the process (sowing, reaping and gathering), it is God alone who ultimately provides for man, because He makes it rain and He makes the crops grow.

Now let’s look at the argument from the standpoint of a Christian.

  • If God provides for both the birds and for all humans, how much more will He provide for His own family—His believers?
  • If He provides for mere creatures and for unbelievers, will He neglect His own Children? No!

If we reason these things out with ourselves, this will defeat anxiety and worry in us. If we realize that because He provides for the birds, He will most certainly provide for us even more, because we are His beloved children.

When you really see yourselves as His child, you should know that He will care for you. Maybe this is your problem. That you forget (or you don’t think about the fact) that you are His child and He loves you as His own.

FLOWERS

Flowers do nothing! Even birds have to look around for worms and seeds to eat; but flowers do nothing. And God makes them grow and look beautiful. He gives them the sun and the rain.

See how these flowers bend toward the west.

Have you noticed how flowers always face the sun? You may notice how in the evening they will bend way over to continue to look into the sun. We could learn a lesson in that.

If we look at (and think about) the flowers, we see the hand of God, His perfect creation, the glory of His creation. The flowers are perfectly clothed by God and are dependent on God for everything they need to keep living and to look good.

If God our Father so clothes the flowers with such beauty that last only a little while (a few months) will He not cloth us His children whom He loves and that lasts forever?