Prayer Brings Peace

Prayer Brings Peace

Your First Step to Fighting Anxiety

We’re still in our series about how we should be “anxious for nothing” – how God tells us not to worry about anything. This seems completely countercultural, especially in a world so filled with things we could worry about – like Russia, Iran, China, Supreme Court rulings, tornadoes – you name it; this week had it!

However, God wants every one of us to live a life free from worry. He wants us to inhabit a world in which we trust our God and maker to take care of the details so we can live in the freedom He wants for each of us.

This morning is the half-way point in our series, and so I think this is a good time to recap what we’ve covered so far.
Week 1 – We focused on the promises in Philippians 4, especially that “the Lord I near.” We also recognized that although breaking free from anxiety will include battles, you will fight with the Lord at your side.
Week 2 – We talked about how Satan is a liar and how a person fighting against anxiety needs to hold onto the following truths in the face of this barrage of lies:

  1. It’s OK to struggle
  2. You’re not crazy.
  3. You’re not alone.
  4. This will end.

Last Week – We discussed how Worship Defeats Worry because when you worship, God shows up. You need to start your battle plan with worship because worship makes God bigger and your problems smaller.

I hope these first three weeks have been helpful to all of you whether you have your own mental health struggles or are trying to support someone who does.

Today we examine the next tool God gives us to battle our anxious hearts: the power of prayer to bring peace into our hearts. I know prayer is a very basic Christian practice, yet it’s something many people are uncomfortable doing. Many don’t truly believe it makes a difference because they don’t do it often. So today we will talk about how to take our requests to God – a topic much broader than battling mental health issues, but especially crucial in that situation.

As I’ve shared before, we are roughly following Philippians chapter 4 as our outline for this series. Today we turn our attention to verses 6 and 7. I hope some of you have this memorized by now, or I truly hope you continue to read these verses over and over. Here’s what the apostle Paul wrote:

Philippians 4:6-76“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Don’t be Anxious About Anything. As I’ve said before, it’s not that life doesn’t have situations that obviously stir anxious thoughts. The question is: what do you do with those thoughts? Do you let them fester and swirl in your mind over and over? Or do you choose not to give in to the anxious thoughts but to let them go? The apostle Peter gives us some great advice about what to do with those anxious thoughts when they pop up:

1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Don’t stew in your anxiety. Toss it over the fence to God, the One who cares for you and has the power to actually do something about the situation.

In Every Situation.
We sometimes reserve prayer for only the big stuff. In a normal week with normal activities and responsibilities, some people never think to pray. Only when someone is sick or has had an accident do people suddenly turn to God. How we connect with God, though, is supposed to be an ongoing, continual activity about everything going on in our lives. Perhaps if you had more prayer-filled thoughts you would have fewer anxious thoughts.

By Prayer and Petition.
For fun, I Googled “prayer.” The AI built into the search engine returned “an act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity.” That sounds like a robot’s understanding of prayer! Prayer is a gift and an opportunity. We can’t miss that. It’s our chance to connect with the most powerful being in the world.

Jesus’s teaching on prayer – on talking to God as a Father – was radical. Not only is God awesome and other-worldly in His power, but He is also personal and relational, and He actually cares about what is going on in your world. In the same way you, as a child, kept going back to your parents for help or to do things for you, go to God – over and over – seeking His help.

Present Your Requests to God.
And how do we pray? We present our requests. Sometimes I hear teenagers (and myself occasionally) praying what could be categorized as “lazy prayers.” “God bless us; bless our families; give us wisdom.” What do you mean specifically? What does help look like? What kind of blessing? What do you need wisdom for? What are you really asking God to do for you? In our scripture passage, Paul tells us to present the specifics of our requests. Tell God exactly what you are struggling with and what you need from Him.

One of the benefits of praying more specific prayers is that this makes it much easier to see how and when God answers your prayers. When you pray “bless my family,” you really have no way of knowing if God has ever answered your prayer. However, specific prayers allow God to show you His faithful responses. I remember that last summer Leland Shelton prayed for two inches of rain. When we got two inches of rain, we all knew God had answered that prayer.

Are there any other ways you must present that request? Any special formulas? Is eloquence needed, or constant repetition? Nope. The only requirement is that you goto God with your prayer and petition.

With Thanksgiving.
As we approach God asking for His assistance, we are to come with gratitude in our hearts. It’s the difference between a grateful child asking you for “one more thing” and a spoiled child who never thanks you. As a parent, you simply feel more appreciated when your child is grateful for what you do.

In the same way, as we approach God, our hearts should acknowledge all the ways He is already providing for us. Remember all the things He has done that show us He is the source of everything we have.

Prayer is extremely powerful against anxiety because worry refuses to share the heart with gratitude. When your heart is filled with thankfulness for how God has already blessed you, anxious thoughts will slither away

Result: The Peace of God

God’s peace is not like human peace. It is not just a truce for a while. It’s not a peace that is easily broken with one hurtful word after a bad day (like what can happen with your family). God offers more than conditional peace based on your getting your part of the equation exactly right. God offers perfect peace; the purest, most calming, most unshakeable peace can be yours.

These are not just words Paul writes but nobody ever experiences. Many people do experience this peace. Perhaps you have known someone who faced cancer diagnoses with complete calm, or you have watched a sweet older saint simply live life with a peace unlike anyone else you know. They had total trust in God no matter what was coming their way.

Transcends All Understanding.
Paul clarifies what this peace of God is like. He tells us that it is beyond anything we can even comprehend. It surpasses our ability to understand because the peace of God is other-worldly. It can exist only in His Kingdom, not in the kingdom of the world. We see glimpses of this peace throughout Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He speaks being full of joy, especially when he says he has found the secret to contentment in every circumstance, whether well-fed or hungry. If Paul isn’t an example of supernatural peace in times of incredible hardships, I don’t know who is!

Guard Your Hearts and Minds.
Here’s the best part. When you bring your requests to God with thanksgiving in your heart, not only will you receive peace, but you also have a promise that God will guard your heart and mind.

Why do you need a guard? Because the enemy is trying to lodge doubt, worry, and feelings of inferiority, jealousy, and “missing out” in your heart. He’s tempting you to fall into this trap that makes you spiral and feel doomed. The best way to battle anxiety, of course, is never to fall into the trap in the first place. That’s what this means: God will guard you against those feelings when you begin with prayer and casting every care on Him.

In Christ Jesus.
Here’s the final – but probably the most important – piece of the puzzle: Jesus must be the beginning and the end of your battle!

The bad news for some people is that this promise is only for those have put their faith and hope in Jesus. This isn’t just a self-help tip saying you can meditate on your view of God and experience the peace I describe. This peace, this guarded peace of mind, comes from the power of one person, Jesus Christ.

The good news is that if you don’t know Jesus you can put your trust in Him, experience His forgiveness and a new life in Him, and receive the peace He wants you to experience. He wants you to have abundance in this life and the next, but He requires your submission to His authority in your life. Most of us in this room have found that to be the best decision we have ever made, and I hope you will consider choosing to follow Jesus if you haven’t yet.

Waging a Spiritual Battle

I know talking about prayer seems very basic; and yet, depending on how you feel and how overwhelming life becomes, praying to God can feel like one of the hardest tasks you can think of. Remember, though, from the very beginning of this series we have stressed that winning the war against anxiety will require fighting many battles against your adversary who is trying to destroy your peace and joy.

This world isn’t just a tough place to survive, but I believe more and more, with all that is going on, that the spiritual battle is becoming increasingly aggressive. We have become so jaded to the evil in the world that we don’t even think of it as spiritual warfare any more, but that’s what it is!

As a result, you need to see yourself as a prayer warrior. Some of you might be thinking “If this depends on my being a prayer warrior, then I’m in trouble!” Remember, though, this isn’t your battle to fight.

Over and over in the Old Testament, as the Israelites took ground in the Promised Land, God promised to fight the battles for them. They still had to follow God’s direction, but victory was already assured because the Lord was near. That is the same promise He gives to you.

Your job in this spiritual battle is to show up day after day ready to fight, ready to pray, ready to give your worries to God and trust Him to lead you through each moment of your day. Be real. Be raw. There’s no need to be polished when you approach the throne of grace, but you do need to know what you are asking for.

Most importantly, you must BELIEVE THAT GOD CAN AND WILL ANSWER your prayers. If you don’t believe He can do it, or if you think He will never help you and you will carry this burden forever, Satan already has you defeated! Your prayers will lack power. and substance, and you will fail to regularly show up to the fight.

I’m here to tell you this is not the end. God will fight at your side. You will find victory. It may take longer than you want. It may not look the way you expect. But the darkness and the dread can end because “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”


You can do this! You can overcome the anxiety or depression that is weighing you down – not because you are amazing, but because you trust a God who is.

To fight against this anxiety, begin by worshiping that amazing God, and then, with a heart of thanksgiving, specifically cast your anxiety on God and tell Him exactly how you feel and what you want from Him. Think about the things that worry you and bring those pieces, in detail, to Him.

Then sit back and trust Jesus to respond faithfully. You may not receive the response as immediately as you want, and the answer may not show up exactly how you expect, but watch for God to surprise you when you least expect it.


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