Day 5 of 7
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, ESV). – Apostle Paul
Step 2C – Replacing anxious thoughts with Scripture and PRAYER
Today’s study will be the final piece of the second step. Let’s quickly review the process:
Step 1) Be aware of the anxious thought
Step 2A) Take it captive and refuse it
Step 2B) Replace it with carefully selected verses
Step 2C) Pray instead of entertaining the worry
Our verse says, Do not be anxious about anything (Step 2A), but in everything by prayer… (Step 2C).
We need to talk to God. We already started this when we listed our anxieties and brought them into God’s presence. Remember that prayer does not always involve dropping to one’s knees and waxing eloquent. Frequent, Nehemiah-like prayers are quite helpful. (You can read his many prayers throughout the book of Nehemiah.) I think of Brother Lawrence who wrote The Practice of the Presence of God, in which he describes reaching the point where he could remind himself of being in God’s presence every five seconds, all day long. Good luck with that! You would likely agree that living as a monk, as he did, would aid that effort significantly. However, the principle is helpful for us too. When I am worried, I stop and remember that I am in God’s all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful presence. No worry can stand against Him.
How do we pray when we feel anxious? Our verse encourages us to use supplication and thanksgiving. Supplication is humbly and earnestly asking for help. “God, I really need help with this right now. I feel so out of control and I’m not sure what to do. Your will be done. Amen.” As mentioned above, you can say this quietly and in just a few seconds, even in a crowded place.
This should also be supplemented with specific times of prayer in which we have dedicated time in our day to focus on supplication with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a vital component. Listen to Louie Giglio describe how “worry and worship are incompatible.”
Max Lucado also says, “Anxiety and gratitude cannot share the same heart.”
So, let’s put that to the test. Can I be thankful and stressed at the same time? Not in the same moment. If we infuse our moments with thankfulness, how much less will we worry? Is there a point at which we even become thankful for the trial itself? “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6, ESV).
Let me suggest another proven strategy to add to your toolkit. Each night before bed, write down 2 highs (+) or positives from your day. This does not have to be long-winded—just a line about something positive that happened that day. Then, do the same with 2 lows (-) or negatives.
We do this for 3 reasons. Primarily, we write these down because it is important to be thankful every single day. That sounds simple enough, but writing helps us remember that we have so much to be thankful for. “You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told” (Psalm 40:5, ESV). We include writing our concerns or negatives because research shows that this process helps our brains process these issues more effectively.
Secondly, we want to be able to establish or identify patterns in positive and negative thinking. It is great to be able to see what things in your life really bring you joy and happiness. On the other hand, are there areas in your life that consistently cause you anxiety or grief? This is very important information for you to know so you can address those areas directly.
Thirdly, after the first week, we transition to 3 positives and 1 negative each night. This adjustment is an attempt to positively change the way we reflect on our days. To listen to a verbal description of this technique, clink on this link and scrub to the 5:30 mark on my recent featured episode of the Teacher Pep Talk Podcast.