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War on Worry

We live in tense times. Terror, a fragile economy, debt, cultural upheaval, a rise in cultural rejection of Christianity and government shutdown all contribute to an increase in worries. Perhaps we feel like the song writer who said: “Anxieties bash my mind in, terrorizing my soul like Bin Laden” (Black Eyed Peas)

Worry is a state of anxiety generated by fear of what you do not know or cannot control. Worry manifests itself in thoughts, images and emotions that are negative and threatening. Worry is the mental attempt to mitigate those threats.

Worry is total. It might begin in one place, but it takes over everything. As Robert Wise wrote in “Your Churning Place”:
Everyone has a churning place. You discover it in the early years of your life. It seems to be located either in the pit of your stomach or at the base of your neck where every muscle tightens. When it begins to churn and pumps like an old washing machine you find that every other area of your life marches to its lumbering, dull, paralyzing beat. Adolescence only increases the beat. All the insecurities of love and money seem to give an endless prospect to the churning. At times it seems as thought the agonies will be eternal in duration. Dreams fail, hopes are lost, and nothing exempts us from the relentless process created by haunting memories and bankrupt expectancies.
This is the worry we get when we don't know where we are going, it is the worry we have of whether or not we are popular, of whether we wore the correct clothing that day, or whether we are in the right place at the right time. It is the angst we have of failing a test, of not living up to expectations, of not being the best. It is worry about tomorrow, about what might happen to us, about money, about girls and about boys, about parents, about homework, about college, about retirement. It is also the kind of worry that we have when we have to stand for our faith – what will happen if everyone knows I am a Christian and that I believe certain, quite unpopular, things about the world (that the world was created and was not an accident, that hell is a real destiny for those who never turn to Christ, that God, whether we acknowledge it or not, rules over the earth and everyone in it). What will people think when I tell them? Will they cease to be my friend? Will I lose credibility?

The apostle Paul wrote a letter to a worried church. In the letter he said:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Worry is combated by prayer”
Prayer is the practice of the principle of trusting God for the future. Paul writes: “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

Prayer practices the principle of trusting God with what will happen, just as joy comes from trusting that God will resurrect you and glorify you. It is also in contrast to another end game. The end set before evil doers, the “crooked and twisted generation” for their end is destruction, Paul says.

Prayer is the opposing force to worry like fire is to water, like plus is to minus, like Vader and Skywalker, like Microsoft to human well-being, like your king to my rook, like common sense to the treasury, like predator to alien. Paul contrasts worry with prayer: Be anxious for nothing, but (contrast) in everything (comprehensive) by (means) prayer and supplication with (attitude) thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (command/exhortation).

Prayer is total, just like worry. What should I pray about? Pray about everything. Nothing is off limits. This is TOTAL WAR. Oh, and shopping list is just fine. One can pray for a shopping list in a bad way, one that sees prayer as the means to the good life. Entitlement that God will make you happy. But a shopping list based on the realization that without God you have nothing will produce gratitude, not a sense of entitlement to have "the perfect life."

Prayer is the practice of the principle that God is present. Your gentle spirit - the spirit that has the peace of God guarding your heart - is a result of acknowledging the presence of God: “The Lord is near”

Many things may be far off - friends, family, cash, time, your life as you know it, your life as you want it. But the Lord is near, close by.

How is he close? He is close because his return is imminent. The time is fast approaching when all things will be put right. When Christ will come for his Church, when all the promises of God shall be fulfilled, when Christ will sit on the great white throne and condemn Satan and his offspring to eternal damnation. When you and I shall receive glorified bodies, be reigning with him, be eternally in worship of the One who has saved us, be free from all anxiety, filled up with the presence of God.

Prayer is the practice of the principle that God knows all things. God’s comprehensive knowledge of all things is one of the reasons we can have peace in him.

Worry is generated not by lack of knowledge in oneself, but by lack in everyone. When a freshman arrives at their new school and is gathered with other equally clueless freshmen their worry is alleviated by the arrival in their presence of an upper class-man. If one person in the room knows what to do, then no one else necessarily has to know. To the degree that the presence of a more knowledgeable person alleviates the less knowledgeable person's worry is maximized between the creature and all knowing creator.
You do not need to worry because you do not know everything, you would only need to worry if no one knew everything.

Prayer produces the Peace of God. Peace is given by God to those who acknowledge his Lordship. In the OT, peace was given as a kingly blessing to those who bow before the throne. This kind of Peace is only possible in Christ, for those who acknowledge the Lordship of Christ in the gospel.

The peace of God surpasses all human comprehension. It is not based on our knowing any more than we did before we prayed. God does not give us understanding or knowledge of the future to allay our fears. Instead he gives us peace about what is beyond our comprehension.

The peace of God guards our hearts rather like a military guard. It is our secret service agency to our hearts. It guards us from worry.

So, believer, pray. Do battle with worry. Worry is the mental activity to reduce a perceived threat. Prayer is turning that activity to speak with God. And may you know His peace today.