Remember the song “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” by Bobby McFerrin?
Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy
(Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh) don’t worry
(Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh) be happy
(Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh) don’t worry, be happy
When I’d hear this song I’d think, “Great advice Bobby. But ummm, one thing you forgot to tell us. Just exactly how are we supposed to not worry? It might be easy for you since you’re a millionaire, but how about the rest of us?”
In Philippians 4:6-7, God tells us not be anxious. But he also tells us how.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The Greek word for “anxious” means to be divided into parts, pulled apart in different directions. To be divided or distracted. Isn’t that how it is when we worry? Our thoughts run this way and that. We can’t concentrate. We think what if this happens, then what will I do? What if so and so won’t listen to me? What if I don’t have enough money? But God tells us not to be anxious about ANYTHING!
Well, just how do we do that?
…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
In everything – every situation, every need. When you or a loved one is sick. When you don’t know where the money will come from. When you don’t know what direction to take. When you don’t know how to handle a situation with one of your children. Big things, small things. Anything that might tempt you to anxiety or worry.
By prayer, supplication, requests – with all kinds of prayers, petitions, cries. Any and all of our desires, needs and concerns.
Let your requests be made known to God. TO WHOM? TO GOD! The Creator of the Universe. The one who has all power. The one to whom nothing is impossible. God will never say, “That request is too big. I can do most things but I can’t do that.” Nothing is impossible to God. No heart he can’t change. No eyes too blind for him to open. No need he can’t meet.
God has answers we can’t even imagine.
When Jesus needed money for the temple tax he told Peter to go fishing and he caught a fish with a coin in its mouth. Would Peter have ever imagined getting the temple tax money that way? When I’ve needed cash I never thought, “Maybe I’ll go fishing and catch a fish with money in its mouth.” God has resources we can’t imagine.
So often we try to solve our own problems, rather than ask for help. So 1 PE 5:6-7 says:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
God will often bring things into our lives that are too much for us to handle so we will humble ourselves under his mighty hand and acknowledge our need for him. So often we’re like I was as a kid – I’d be trying to do something and it wasn’t working and my dad would say, “Here, let me help you” and I’d say, “No! I can do it!”
How often we try to figure things out on our own, and get anxious, distracted and stressed. God says humble yourselves! Take the lowly position of someone who needs help. Ask me to help you. Then at the proper time, in my timing, I will exalt you – I will lift you up!
How do we humble ourselves? By casting all our anxieties on him, because he cares for us. As a young Christian I thought God was so busy running the universe, he couldn’t concern himself with my problems. But our Heavenly Father cares for his children! So he tells us to cast ALL our cares, big and small, on him.
THE SECOND COMPONENT: THANKSGIVING
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication WITH THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God.
Thanksgiving yields joy in our lives. Every command God gives us is for our benefit. He doesn’t need our thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is for our joy. It helps us to appreciate all the ways God has blessed us.
Thanksgiving is an expression of humility and dependence on God.
Thanksgiving is an expression of faith – that every good thing comes from him, that he is generous.
Thanksgiving glorifies God.
When we make our requests to God, we can thank him that he hears our prayers, cares about us, is loving, good and sovereign. We can thank him for his past faithfulness and his promise to meet all our needs in Christ Jesus. For his steadfast love and mercy.
THE RESULT OF PRAYER WITH THANKSGIVING: The Peace of God
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God’s very own peace, the peace given by the Creator of the Universe, the One with all wisdom, who knows all things, who has all the answers. A supernatural peace that nothing – nothing – can take away.
which surpasses all understanding…
Humans make lots of recommendations for peace. In blogs and videos people say to take a deep breath, empty your mind, picture a peaceful scene, etc. Like in the movie “What About Bob,” when anxiety ridden Bill Murray walks down a crowded city street rubbing his temples repeating to himself with increasing intensity: “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful. I feel good, I feel great, I feel WONDERFUL!”
God’s peace is not like any we find in this world. When we pray with thanksgiving, God gives us his very own peace which surpasses all understanding. So cast your cares on your Heavenly Father who cares for you.