3 Steps to Overcome Anxiety
Written by Lysa TerKeurst (First 5 Ministries)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Anxiety. Not one of us is completely immune to its vicious attacks.
Most of us have had a personal struggle with this peace stealer. Apparently so did the people of Philippi, evidenced by Paul’s choice to address the topic of anxiety in this closing portion of his letter to them.
And I’m so thankful the Lord had Paul speak into this struggle. It reminds us that God doesn’t want our lives to be constantly hijacked by anxiety. He doesn’t want us walking through our days or lying in our beds at night tormented by anxious thoughts. He also doesn’t want us making decisions from a place of fear and miss out on seeing the good things He has for us.
Even Jesus Himself speaks to this topic when He tells us in John 14:27 that He left us with peace. Peace. Not worry. Not fear. Not anxiety. And in today’s passage, Paul spells out for us how we can begin living lives guarded by and at rest in the peace that is freely ours.
The portion of Scripture that immediately comes to mind when fear is mentioned is Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I love these verses. I made sure I taught my kids these verses when they were young. But as I’ve spent time studying the whole of Philippians 4, I’ve noticed something really interesting. There are four very powerful words that come right before the “do not be anxious” part. Philippians 4:5 ends with, “The Lord is near.”
When we put the verses we just read about being anxious for nothing in context and see how God promises His nearness, they take on a whole new meaning.
Because the Lord is near, we don’t have to be anxious. We have the assurance of His presence that soothes us, sustains us and empowers us. Much like a child finds safety and security when they crawl into bed with their parents after a bad dream, our souls find comfort and rest when we cry out to our heavenly Father in our times of distress. He is near.
Make no mistake, sweet friends, the enemy wants us to feel hopeless. He wants us to live enslaved to our worries and fears. But God wants us to know that we don’t have to let anxiety rob us of our peace, our hope or our joy another single day.
So instead of allowing anxious thoughts to wreak havoc in our hearts and minds, let’s try these three steps:
1) Pray Honestly – Prayer connects our overwhelming anxiety to God’s overcoming power. God can help us redirect our heart and mind away from anxious thoughts and onto truths and safe assurances found in Him. And we have full permission to pour our hearts out to Him honestly. We can bring every fear, every request, every need to Him without hesitation or apology. (1 Peter 5:7) And when we do, we’ll find that prayer and peace walk hand in hand.
2) Read God’s Truths – We can intentionally think on truth by seeking out scriptures that speak to the issues we are facing. When we tuck God’s truth into our hearts, we are arming ourselves with the most powerful tool available – His Word! (Hebrews 4:12) It’s God’s presence plus His promises that chase away our anxious thoughts.
3) Verbalize Trust in Him – We can quote the Scriptures we’ve memorized all throughout our day. There is tremendous power in quoting the verse slowly and intentionally – claiming the truths contained within and verbalizing our belief in God out loud.
Yes, I’m convinced the more we draw near to God in prayer and the more we fill our minds with His Word, the more crowded out our fears and anxieties will become.