How to Stop Worrying: A Study of Philippians 4:6-7
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been worried about something.
What, everybody? (Okay, I called it.)
Whether we’re worried about something big or small, whether we’re worried over people, events, possibilities, or mysterious nothings, chances are we’ve all experienced anxiety over something in our lives.
Lucky for us, the Bible has some pretty clear things to say about worrying. This is a popular verse that I am sure you have heard before, but we’re gonna break it right down, and really get to the heart of it.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. - Philippians 4:6 NIV
Let’s break it down.
I really like to look at different translations of the Bible when I’m studying a particular verse. Translations are almost always going to be imperfect, and so seeing how different versions word certain things helps me to grasp the overall concept and sometimes find a deeper meaning.
Let’s start with the first part.
NIV - Do not be anxious about anything
NLT - Don’t worry about anything
MSG - Don’t fret or worry
Okay, that is pretty straightforward. Not really any hidden meaning here.
WORRY IS BAD – DON’T DO IT.
But the straightforwardness doesn’t stop there! I think sometimes even knowing that “worry is bad”, we can still make excuses. Like, normally you shouldn’t worry, but this situation is REALLY important. This thing that is happening is a REALLY big deal, so I’m allowed to worry a little.
Then you get this bomb thrown at you:
NIV – in every situation
Again, super straightforward.
All the time, no matter what is happening. In absolutely every situation that could ever realistically happen or you could hypothetically conceive. No space left for wiggle room there.
So, don’t worry. Ever. Um, easier said than done.
BUT – don’t worry (Heyo!)! Paul doesn’t leave it at that. We don’t need to stop worrying by sheer force of will. Paul gives us some handy instructions on what to do instead.
How to Stop Worrying
We’re going to look at some different translations here again. They all say essentially the same thing, but sometimes the different wording will just click.
NIV - by prayer and petition…present your requests to God
NLT - instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need
MSG - Instead of worrying, pray…letting God know your concerns
TPT - Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God
Worrying is a huge energy suck. How much time and energy do you spend on worrying, instead of…anything else?
Here we are told instead of worrying, we can direct our energies to prayer.
It’s not saying ignore your situation or pretend it’s not hard. What you’re going through IS hard and it is causing you stress. There’s no point in ignoring what’s going on in your life.
What it is saying is don’t just worry and fret and ruminate and complain – that’s really not going to help. All that’s going to do is cause more stress and negativity and bring you down further than you were when you started. Instead, talk to God about what you’re going through.
We are able to present our requests to God. We can freely ask him for what we want and need. We are allowed to tell him how we hope our situation turns out.
God cares about your situation, He cares about your heart. He is listening.
But it’s not a one-way conversation where we rattle off our wish list and demand God come through this time. It has to be a two-way conversation.
When we speak to God about our concerns, we have to allow God to speak to us about our situation. When we allow God to speak to us, He is able to encourage us or give us direction.
One of the amazing things that comes out of having a two-way conversation with God about our lives is that we come to align our will with His before we ask that He follow our will for the situation.
God cares about our situation and what we want out of a situation. But His will may be different from ours. If we come to Him waiting for Him to speak first, we can learn His will, and His will can become our will. Then, when we pray that the situation ends the best way possible, we can know that however it ends (according to our wishes or not), if it was God’s will, it WAS for our good.
Don’t Worry, Be Thankful
Another key factor in bringing our petitions to God, is HOW we do it and the attitude we have while doing it.
Every verse says something about thanksgiving, gratitude and praise.
This is the attitude we are to come before God with. Not gimme gimme, demanding the things we want.
Instead, recognizing all that He has already done for us.
And when we stop to think of all He has done for us, boy, is it a lot.
It’s important in times of anxiety to keep your eyes fixed on God, not your situation.
The Passion Translation tells us, “Don’t be pulled in different directions.”
Times of anxiety come when our focus is being pulled away from God.
When we focus on our worries more than we focus on God, anxieties can take over our minds and our lives, pulling us in directions we really didn’t want to go.
Instead of being pulled apart, we can fix our eyes on Jesus and he will hold us together through the storms.
The Peace That Comes
I think not worrying is one of those things we’re never going to get 100% on earth. But when we try not to worry, when we try to keep our focus on God, when we communicate with God, when we bring our requests to Him with thanksgiving for what He has already done, the next verse contains a promise for us.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7 NLT
When we focus on God, spend our time praying to Him, and thank him for everything he has done, we are promised God’s peace.
So, “don’t worry” isn’t something that we can do on our own. We can’t just stop worrying and force ourselves to only think about sunshine and rainbows and puppies and expect everything to be totally fine. We are not able to stop worrying in our own strength, nor are we expected to.
Not worrying is something that happens naturally when we focus on God. When we do that, no matter what is happening around us, we can experience His mysterious peace.
In the midst of your worries, remember: He does care for you and how you feel in difficult times. Know that He has already blessed you and has good in store for you. And while the current situation may not seem to be going according to plan, it is going according to His.
Questions For Your Consideration
These are some questions for you to ponder in your devotional time, as you meditate on Philippians 4:6-7 with me. Feel free to think about them and answer them on your own, or answer any of them in the comments down below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these verses!
What is your first reaction to difficult situations?
What situations make you worry?
It seems natural to have worries and concerns – why are we commanded not to worry? What are the negative results of worry?
What do you usually do to relieve your anxieties?
How can you remind yourself to turn to God?
I sometimes find it difficult in the moment to think of blessings – think of a few right now and start a list of blessings you can remind yourself of in difficult times.
How would having God’s peace make a difference in your life?
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