Helping others to break free from worry is the main focus of my writing and speaking ministry. I have struggled with anxiety for many years, but have experienced the healing power of Jesus Christ. As a result, I am passionate about sharing the “Good News” with my fellow worriers. With the Lord’s help, it is possible to live peacefully, even if you tend to be anxious like me.
St. Paul: “Don’t Worry. Pray Instead!”
In my parish missions, talks and retreats I always quote the following message from St. Paul:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Paul tells us that, instead of worrying about our problems, we should bring them to the Lord in prayer. Doing so will result in great peace.
Great Advice (Or Not?)
This is excellent advice. I do it all the time and it works like a charm. Recently, however, I ran into someone who prays frequently about his problems and is still not peaceful. St. Paul clearly states that if we pray about our problems (instead of worrying about them), we’ll receive “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding”. What gives? Could he be wrong?
There Is A “Wrong” Way To Pray
Don’t panic. Paul’s advice is right on the money. When you pray about your problems and don’t feel any peace, it usually means that something is “wrong” with your prayers. Strictly speaking, there is no “wrong” way to pray. Any conversation with God is a good thing. I get that. It is possible, however, to pray in an ineffective way. Here’s how it works. If you have a major problem in your life (sickness, unemployment, relationship problem,etc.) and your prayer consists of “Make it go away, Lord”, you are setting yourself up to be miserable. Praying like this rarely results in peace.
How Should We Pray?There is nothing wrong with asking the Lord to take away your problem. Jesus did it in the Garden of Gethsemane and you should feel free to do it too. It’s also important, however, to be open to other potential solutions and trust in the Lord’s timing. When Jesus prayed in the garden, he ended his prayer to the Father with “not my will, but your will be done”. He surrendered his will to the Father.
Your “unanswered” prayer could also be a matter of timing. God may be prepared to take your problem away, but the time may not be right. He might be trying to teach you something, such as patience or trust. If you want to be able to experience the peace that Paul promised, make sure you’re not boxing God in with your prayers. Give him some room to work and trust his timing. You’ll be amazed at how much peace will result.