The Key to Overcoming Anxiety.

Many times and in many ways the Bible tells us to “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6). In fact, Paul reassures us that if we will not be anxious but in all things make our requests known to God, God will give us – not earthly peace, but his peace – and his heavenly peace will guard our hearts and minds in the power and authority of Jesus Christ (4:6-7).
What keeps us from believing this, and why are we still so anxious and filled with worry?
Jesus gave us the key to understanding in his sermon on the mount. Let’s have a look at what he said:
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25 ESV).
He begins by telling us not to be anxious about anything in our lives; things as essential as where our next meal is coming from, to things like clothing that we sometimes take for granted, like clothing, that for some can mean the difference between freezing to death or surviving another day.
And honestly, if we back up a few verses in chapter 6, we read that Jesus actually begins this thought by telling the multitude not to be lovers of money. He’s telling us, as he told them, that we are not to be anxious for any of the “essentials” – not money, not food, not clothing, not even about our very lives.
That may have been easy for Jesus to say because after all, he is the Son of God, who turns water into wine and serves up bread from the storerooms of heaven. But the question is, how are we supposed to not be anxious? Especially today, when being anxious has become a way of life for so many people.
Beloved Friends, Jesus is saying that God never intended for us to constantly suffer from anxiety. Anxious worry was never built into God’s original design for humanity. Worry arises as a symptom of mankind’s fallen condition, and even after we are saved, we can become anxious because we occupy a broken world where everything seems to be falling apart. Life on earth can be scary and painful, and God is invisible so it's hard to walk by faith. We love Jesus, but we're worried about what’s going to happen next!
Jesus knew this. And because he knew this, he gave us keys that unlock the chains of worry. Let’s listen to what the Master said:
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (6:31-32).
It’s perfectly fine to eat food and wear whatever kind of clothing suits us. God knows that we need these things, and he intends that we have them. The point isn’t whether we should eat food or get dressed. The point is not to be anxious about our lives at all.
Jesus goes on to instruct us that instead, we should “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (6:33).
Ok, now we’re getting somewhere, but how exactly do we seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness? What does that mean?
Let’s look for a minute at what Paul wrote to our Brothers and Sisters at Philippi:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV).
Both Jesus and Paul are telling us that the key to overcoming worry can be found not in our strength or in any earthly means of support, but rather that the secret to being content in all circumstances is found in God’s strength and in his kingdom.
Ok, but how do we do that? Peter gives us another key when he says, “…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
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” (1 Peter 5:5-7 ESV).
So, through Peter, the Holy Spirit is saying that instead of worrying about what kinds of earthly things we should “put on,” we should be “clothing” ourselves with humility. That when we hang on to anxiety, we are operating from a place of pride because we’re depending on our own strength and not on God. And that the way to clothe ourselves with humility is to literally cast, or “throw” (Greek: epiripto) all our cares onto Jesus. Because he cares for us! And he is mighty! He can handle everything better than we can, so why are we worried?
This is what Paul was talking about when he wrote to the Philippians, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NLT).
Jesus preached in his Sermon on the Mount that our Father God knows everything we need. Paul wrote that even in terrible circumstances, he had learned how to be content. Peter instructs us that when we have cares and worries, we are to literally throw them onto God. Are we seeing a pattern forming here?
Let’s look one more time at what Paul said: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV).
Notice that he didn’t say something like, “God has seen to it that no bad thing ever happens to me.” Or, “God promised me that I will always be rolling in dough and my bank account will always be full!” (The “dough” God gives us is the Bread from Heaven, but that’s for another post!) Or, “I’m not worried because I’ve worked so hard for God, he owes me big time!” No, Paul didn’t say any of those things, because he was a seasoned, mature man of God. He knew better than to boast or complain, because he had years of experience serving God in a broken world under his Belt of Truth.
Paul knew that times could get tough. He also knew that good times would come, when he could rest and be comforted. But he wasn’t filled with worry about future challenges, nor was he overly impressed when he was showered with abundance. Paul had learned that the secret to being content in all circumstances is only unlocked with one key. And that key is remembering that in fact we CAN do ALL things, but ONLY by depending on Christ and HIS strength, following God's will, and not our own.
When we cast all our cares on God and depend on him to see us through both the good times and the bad, we can live our lives in peace and confidence, knowing that no matter what happens, God will make a way to see us through.
Let’s close with Peter’s final words to the church, before he was executed by the emperor Nero in Rome, around 64 AD:
“…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
 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.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (2 Peter 5:5-11 ESV).
So dear Friends, cast all your cares onto God. He is standing by your side, ready to strengthen you, equip you, and establish you in everything that he has called you to do. Don't worry about tomorrow. Jesus is also waiting there ahead of you, in every moment of your future, to guide your every step. There is nothing to fear. He's got you in the palms of his hands.

Meditative Prayer

Have you ever come across a special Bible verse, maybe in your morning devotional or on your favorite Christian blog that spoke directly to something you were going through and you wanted to remember it, but found that it had completely slipped your mind after about fifteen minutes? Me too, and it’s not because we’re over fifty, it’s because we just have too darn many distractions, all day, every day!
 Meditative Prayer is an easy and enjoyable way that we can carry helpful scriptures with us, revisit them throughout the day, and even end up automatically committing them to memory so that they’re always on tap when we need them. Plus, Meditative Prayer is a simple method that takes us into the deeper meaning behind the scriptures, providing fresh insight every time we use it.
Want to get started? Here’s how…
You’ll need your Bible; your favorite pen, markers or pencils; and a package of 3x5 note cards or something to write on that you can easily carry with you.
Next, think about your favorite scriptures, a situation you may be dealing with, or a topic from the Bible that strengthens you and brings you comfort.
One of my favorites is from Isaiah, and I meditate on it when I’m feeling exhausted or overwhelmed:
 “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
    they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint”
(Isaiah 40:31 ESV).
Let’s say that you’ve just come across this verse for the first time, and you’d like to be able to understand it better and remember it when you need it.
Here’s what to do:
Take a few minutes to prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to help you either find the verse that he wants you to meditate on, or use one of your favorite scriptures, or the verse we’ve written above.
Write your scripture on your 3x5 card, remembering to add the chapter and verse so you can find it again later.
Now just set everything aside for a few minutes, and slowly read the scripture you’ve written on your card. Speak it out loud if you can.
Remember that Jesus said, “’It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4 ESV).
That literally means that God’s Word is spiritual food. It is heavenly bread that feeds our spirits. When we practice Meditative Prayer, what we are doing is taking a portion of God’s Word and we chew on it – as if every word of scripture is a bite of delicious bread.
 In fact, the word meditate can mean to ponder, mutter, reckon, chew on, weigh, add up, consider or decide. Have you ever seen a mama cow, ruminating – or chewing on – delicious grass? That’s how we want to ruminate on our scriptures. Chew and digest. Chew and digest.
Let’s look again at our sample from Isaiah, starting with the first line:
“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;”
In Meditative Prayer, we read the line to ourselves, ruminating on one word or idea at a time, like this:
We say to ourselves, “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.” Then we ask ourselves, “What does it mean to wait on the Lord? How can I wait on him? Lord, are you asking me to just be still and wait? Ok, I’m waiting for you, Lord. You know what’s best for me!”
Next, we ruminate on “shall renew their strength,” and we say to ourselves something like, “Waiting on the Lord is renewing my strength. Lord, when I stop what I’m doing and wait for you – when I’m in your timing and not mine – I can relax. Thank you, Jesus, that I can wait for you and trust you. Your timing is perfect, I don’t have to hurry.”
Then we take the next line, “they shall mount up with wings like eagles,” and we meditate on those words thinking something like, “Lord, I want to rise up above everything I’m dealing with, like a soaring eagle. I want to see things from a higher perspective. Help me rise up on eagle’s wings as I wait for you. Please renew my strength!”
Next, “they shall run and not be weary;” and we say, “Lord, I have been truly weary. Help me to run the race you’ve set before me. Help me to run this race with joy and not complaining. Give me your strength, Lord Jesus!”
And finally, “they shall walk and not faint,” and we say, “Jesus, I know that everywhere I walk, you go with me. You promised that you would never leave me or forsake me. You’ll never let go of my hand. Help me to walk through this broken world. Help me to walk, and not faint from weariness or be afraid. Lord, help me to be patient and wait on you, and renew my strength!”
Can you see how this is a mixture of both prayer and meditation? This method of Meditative Prayer teaches us how to incorporate God’s word into our prayers and makes his promises a part of our conversation with him. When we pray God’s Word, we remind ourselves of – and we let God know that we have heard and believe – his promises.
The key is to take your scripture card with you, and meditate on it throughout the day, It only takes a few minutes, and you’ll find that each time you pull out your card and chew on your scripture the Holy Spirit will reveal a deeper understanding of the verse to you, as you nourish your spirit on God’s bread from heaven.
We’ve listed several scriptures on what the Bible says about comfort on our Words of Comfort page, at , and here are some other verses from the English Standard Version translation that you can write on your prayer cards to get started:
When you need patience:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
When you feel lonely:
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land (Psalm 68:5-6).
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called (Isaiah 54:5).
When you feel afraid, or are facing a challenge:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27).
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2).
I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed (Psalm 34:4-5).
When you want to praise God:
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth (Psalm 34:1).
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34:34:3)
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:6)
For peaceful rest and sleep:
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 (1 Peter 5:6-7).
If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet (Proverbs 3:24).
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 (Philippians 4:6-7).
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear…Be still, and know that I am God…the Lord Almighty is with us (Psalm 46:1-2, 10-11).