Worship Defeats Worry

Worship Defeats Worry

Today, as we continue our series about finding freedom from anxiety, we’ll look at how to fight for your peace and what you can actually do to make a difference in your life.

We’ll start at a point which is probably not where most people would start. Most people, when they are having panic attacks or are no longer willing to go out and be around people, or who feel overwhelmed with worry, begin their search to find health by calling a therapist or their doctor to get a prescription.

I’m not one of those pastors who believe therapy and medications are all wrong and Christians shouldn’t resort to them. Trust me – as a foster parent I’ve been to boatloads of therapy appointments and had kids on all sorts of meds for mental health issues. In many situations these types of treatment were very helpful for those kids.

However, I also believe it is possible our society has become overly reliant on medication. Sales of medications for mental health issues have climbed much faster than any other category of pharmaceuticals. Also, the increase in numbers of people going to therapy has created a huge shortage of available therapists. If you try to schedule an appointment with a new therapist anywhere nearby, you’ll quickly find that it is a huge challenge.

Here’s what I believe: before you jump straight to therapy and a prescription, you should begin battling your anxiety God’s way and see where you end up. For many people, there is a cheaper and more accessible way to battle your worry.

Today I’ll share with you the first secret weapon God gives us to fight against the worry Satan uses to steal our joy. That weapon is worship. We see clearly in scripture that Worship defeats Worry.

Why Does Worship Work?

You may wonder how worshiping God makes any impact on your anxious thoughts. The Bible tells us God sits enthroned in the middle of the praises of His people. King David, while he was in a dark place, wrote a psalm that moves from suffering to praise. He could make that jump because he trusted that no matter what the circumstances, God would provide.

Psalm 22:

1My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

 Why are you so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?

2My God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest.

3But you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. . . .

22I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters; I will praise you in the assembly.

23You who fear the Lord, praise Him!

 All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him!

 All you descendants of Israel, revere Him!

You see, when you worship, God shows up. No matter how bad you feel, no matter how stuck you are in the pit of despairing thoughts, when you begin to worship God in your heart and mind, the Spirit of God comes alive inside of you. The Holy Spirit inside you is connected with the Father through your worship; and the peace, love and joy of God are able to flow into your heart and soul.

On the Monday evening of our youth mission trip last summer, we had a night of worship at a ministry called Adulum. It was an incredible experience for our teenagers as they were able to see and feel first-hand how God can meet us in a special way in our worship. One teen in particular (who struggles with anxiety) said she experienced a deep sense of calm and peace through the entire night.

I can personally attest to the power of worship in defeating worry, stress, and feelings of hopelessness. As a pastor, I probably get more opportunity than most to sit and read, listen to worship music, and connect with God. It’s part of my job – a wonderful part of my job. I find that whatever is upsetting my soul or causing me a bit of heartburn when I begin connecting with God through worship is usually resolved in short order. I can’t fully explain exactly how it works other than saying God shows up when I worship; and when I’m done, my mind is clearer and I feel at peace.

Paul’s Command to Rejoice in the Lord.

Before you write me off as being too touchy-feely or assume that MY experience won’t be yours, I’m confident in telling you what I did because it aligns perfectly with what Paul tells us in our passage for this series: Philippians 4.

Remember how the passage begins:

Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Paul’s pretty clear here. In fact, he repeats himself to make his point. Finding joy in God – worshiping Him with a glad heart – is not optional. It’s part of unlocking verse 7, which says that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.

Remember – Paul’s circumstances when he wrote this letter were rough! He was rejoicing while in chains and facing death. He was watching the churches he had planted tear each other down. People were trying to usurp his teaching and lead people astray. But even in that dark prison cell, he still rejoiced!

Paul tells us to Rejoice always! It’s not based on our circumstances! If that were the case, you would worship God only when all things were sunshine and happy times. Yes, it’s easier to worship God when life is going well, but in this series we’re talking about when life isn’t going well. Even when you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, Paul still tells you to rejoice in the Lord. Worship your God. Be satisfied in Him

When your mind is racing through the what-ifs of life, it’s easy to see only all the bleak possibilities. All you see are your problems, real or imagined, and you feel surrounded by them. What makes your worship so powerful when your problems feel so big and crushing is that worship elevates God.

A few months ago I started a group text with three teens in my youth group who were struggling with anxiety. I challenged them for the next five days to text the group each day two things they were thankful for and one thing they needed prayer for. That week I noticed that almost everything they were thankful for surrounded their anxiety struggles; and EVERY prayer request was centered on their anxiety. All they could see were their problems.

But here’s what worship does: Worship makes God Bigger and Your Problems Smaller. When you worship God, your eyes move off of your problems, your worries, and the situations you cannot control. Instead, your eyes go to the One who holds everything in His hands. It elevates the One who can offer you true peace and joy as you remind yourself that He is your All in All.

Worship God for His Power over Your Future and Your Past.

Two specific reasons for worshiping God hold exceptional power to break you free from your anxiety: (1) worshiping God for His power over your future, and (2) worshiping Him for His power over your past.

Future: Worship God for His sovereignty.

When we say God is sovereign, it means He is in control of absolutely everything in the universe. Does He cause every bad thing? No. But is it out of His control to have stopped it? No.

For many people, an inability to control the what-ifs of the future is a huge trigger for their anxiety. They have intense fear of what might happen in this situation or that event because there is nothing they can do if (and in their minds, when) something bad happens. They avoid crowds or even important family events.

This connection between feelings of a lack of control and anxiety can be shown in the following two examples.

First, during World War II, studies found that infantrymen had much higher rates of anxiety than bomber pilots, even though pilots had a much more dangerous job with a higher likelihood of losing their lives. The difference was their feeling of control. The infantrymen felt like sitting ducks who could be bombed on a moment’s notice; the bomber pilots had the planes’ controls in their hands.

Second, the same feelings show up for all of us when we encounter heavy traffic. When people get stuck on the highway and can’t do anything to change the circumstances, they may completely lose their cool. Hence the common phrase, “road rage.”

So it would seem that the fix for your anxious thoughts is simply to control everything around you more tightly, but anybody who has tried that has found it’s a fool’s errand. You become a control freak with no peace and not much more actual control of your life than before you started clutching for total control. Also, your family and coworkers probably like you a lot less.

The true antidote to anxiety rooted in feelings of lack of control is to give control over to the ONE who actually DOES control everything – to God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, who sustains all things by His very Word.

The prophet Jeremiah says it well in Jeremiah 17:7-87But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought.

Here’s the point: for many of you, your worry is all about the future. But you can’t control the future. Hence your anxiety. But God can. So worship God for His sovereign control of the future and the fact that in His kindness and love He wants what’s best for you.

Some people really struggle with the idea that God is in sovereign control of everything in this world, but it is really one of the most freeing doctrines of God. It allows you to relax a bit and trust that He knows what He’s doing and is going to work it all out.

Worship God for His Mercy and Forgiveness.

Many other people are anxious because of their past. They are filled with feelings of guilt and regret. They know they messed up and didn’t perform up to others’ standards, so they hide. They don’t want their mistakes to be found out, or they don’t want to be recognized as imposters who really shouldn’t be doing what they are doing. They live a life of hiding and hoping not to be found out. They never let people really get to know them. They are in constant fear of what will happen when they are exposed.

The truth, however, is that a peaceful soul dwells in grace, not guilt. As long as you continue to feel guilty for your sins and shame for your mistakes, you cannot experience the peace God wants for you.

Right before Paul’s “drink offering” comment in his letter to the Philippians, he discussed how he had to leave behind his past of relying on his good works and instead move forward with faith in Jesus for his righteousness.

Philippians 3:13-1413”But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

For you, this means that if you haven’t already done so, you need to let go of whatever holds you back, trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness, and put your eyes on Jesus. You can’t dwell on the past. You can’t indulge those feelings of your own condemnation. You must receive God’s grace and forgiveness and allow yourself to move forward.

Praise God that He is in control of not only your future, but your past, too. If you have put your trust in Jesus, then God has washed you clean from your sins. He no longer sees your mistakes, but only the righteousness of Jesus. So stop beating yourself up and ruminating on your past. God has set you free from your past, so rejoice, for the Lord has forgiven you.

How Can You Defeat Worry with Worship This Week?

Listen to your favorite worship music. For some of you, that’s an old cassette tape or maybe an old CD with the Gaithers. Others of you might have playlists on Spotify or Apple Music. Pick your favorites. I have a short list of songs, albums and artists I listen to in order to calm my soul.

Worship doesn’t have to be music. Sit and recite God’s promises to you: Breath Prayer Book or Face-to-Face Book. Many online resources list the promises of God from verses in the Bible. Speak these verses aloud. Meditate on what God has done for you and rejoice in His promises.

Keep coming to church or joining us online. We create these services with you and your battles in mind. Some might think we do a lot of music in our services, but it has a purpose. It gives you time to connect with God to pray and to remember that your God is a lot bigger than your problems.


When you feel crushed by anxiety and surrounded by dark clouds, it’s likely that your problems and worries are looming large in your mind and completely stealing your joy.

You need to shift your perspective. You need to make God big and your problems small, and you do that by worshiping God. Invite Him to fill your heart and mind and bring His peace and joy with Him.

As you worship, rejoice that God is in control of your future, and praise Him for forgiving your past. Let go of your anxious thoughts and place them at the feet of the only one who has to power to do anything about them. As you REJOICE ALWAYS, may the peace of God that surpasses all understanding be yours.


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