“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
Most of us remember the 1988 song by Bobby McFerrin, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. It was a fun upbeat, engaging little song that actually reached the top of the popular music charts. It has become a meme in the popular culture since then.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6 to be “anxious for nothing…”, and we respond with “yeah, like that’s even possible…” What does Paul mean when he tells us not to be anxious? Anxiety is a real thing, part of the human condition. I tell my clients that anxiety is our travelling partner- an unwanted partner- but a partner to be sure. Everyone has some anxiety, some more than others, but all of us have some anxiety. Indeed, telling a person with anxiety to “just don’t worry about it” is not helpful. If it were that easy, no one would have anxiety!
So, what is Paul saying when he instructs us to “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”?
First of all, because he brings it up, Paul knows that worry and anxiety are a natural part of life. Paul is not chastising those who worry or have anxiety, he is trying to set forth a remedy. He is reminding us that prayer, a conversation with a God who cares about us, is a useful and immediate “tool in the tool box” for anxiety.
Having others who care about us on our “team” is also a critical tool in dealing with anxiety. Becoming aware of our anxious state, naming it, and expressing it to ourselves and others, is a crucial tool in taking control of anxiety.
So, a great first step, as Paul says, is to bring every situation that worries us to God, thereby making him as well as ourselves aware of it in the moment. By seizing this control of anxiety awareness in the moment, we have already begun the process of anxiety control.
Prayer: Lord, you have given us tools for comfort and relief of anxiety. Help us to become more aware o your presence in our time of need, Amen