Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.
God invites us to pray about every anxiety. Every time we are anxious we are invited “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present our requests to God.” In spite of this clear invitation, however, we may feel hesitant to pray in this way. We may think that asking God for anything for ourselves is selfish. Or we may think of any admission of our experience of anxiety is less than spiritual.
But this text invites us to honesty and humility. Of course we are going to be anxious. Of course we have many requests we want to make. The good news is that God not only anticipates this but welcomes us and invites us to pray about all our fears and all our requests.
Anytime we find ourselves feeling anxious we can see our anxiety as a reminder to pray. We can run like little kids to God and tell God about our fears and our requests. As we do this we are reminded to express gratitude to God for who God is, for the ways God will guide us and help us, for the times we have experienced God’s care and provision in the past. These acts of thanksgiving help us to focus on the reality of God’s love for us. It helps us to entrust ourselves, once again, to God’s care.
We are promised that when we do this we will be given an extraordinary gift. Our fear and anxiety will be replaced with peace. The peace of God, which is beyond our understanding, will guard our hearts and will guard our minds.
Whenever we are anxious we can go to God with our requests and receive more than we were able to ask or think. We receive the gift of an encounter with the Prince of Peace who loves us beyond telling.
Henri Nouwen wrote about the experience of prayer as making requests from a similar perspective:
“Often prayer of petition is treated with a certain disdain…Prayer of petition is supposedly more egocentric because the person is putting his own interests first and trying to get something for himself…But the important thing about prayer is whether it is a prayer of hope…A man with hope does not get tangled up with concerns for how his wishes will be fulfilled. So, too, his prayer is not directed toward the gift, but toward the one who gives it. His prayer might still contain just as many desires, but ultimately it is not a question of having a wish come true but of expressing an unlimited faith in the giver of all good things.” (Henri Nowuen, With Open Hands, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, pp 79, 82)
I am anxious.
I am afraid.
Thank you that I can come to you.
Thank you that you invite me to bring my requests.
Thank you for all the ways you have cared for me in the past.
Thank you that I can trust the outcome
of all of life’s circumstances to you.
Prince of Peace, fill me with your peace.
I entrust myself and all my concerns
to your loving care.
What concerns or anxieties do you have?
Allow yourself to talk to God about your concerns, your anxieties and requests.
Take some time to thank God for who God is, for how God will care for you in this situation, for specific ways you have experienced God’s care for you in the past.
Open your mind and heart to receive the gift of God’s peace.