If I prayed as much as I worried, I’d be praying constantly. Sounds good to me. After all, Paul writes, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17 NKJV). Now, there’s a part of me that despises prayer. I’d rather try to figure it out by myself. But there’s another part of me that longs for it. I realize my desperate need for Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, my struggle for control creates a barrier to my prayer life. Maybe that’s the purpose of Paul’s message to the Philippians.
“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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7 NKJV).
There’s something so powerful about prayer. The fact that I have the opportunity to communicate with my God. And I can’t help but desire to pray more. Often times, however, I worry about things instead.
In Philippians, God promises to give me peace beyond my ability to comprehend if I decide to pray instead of worry. Better yet, God promises me that His peace will guard my heart and mind in Christ if I decide to pray instead of worry.
There are some major benefits to prayer. You see, the Bible speaks heavily about guarding your heart.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Prov. 4:23 NLT).
When I worry, I let my guard down. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself in sin because of anxiety. In other words, my anxiety has often made me vulnerable to temptation, leading me to sin.
As I read what Paul writes in Philippians, I can’t help but realize one of the greatest benefits of prayer—protection. Yes, it brings peace. Yes, it brings results. But it also protects my heart.
Jesus says, “‘But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander’” (Matt. 15:18-19 NLT).
I believe many people delve into a life of sin because of anxiety. People who get drunk to combat anxiety. People who watch porn to combat anxiety. People who smoke a joint to combat anxiety. People who sleep around to combat anxiety. People who gossip, lie, and cheat to combat anxiety.
Today, I struggle heavily with self-condemnation. Because I allow anxiety into my life, I often combat that anxiety with self-destructive words. If I replaced my anxiety with prayer, then the words and actions from my heart would be much more pleasing to God.
Here’s what I’m trying to say: prayer protects your heart from sin. So why not pray more?
When it comes to prayer, there’s only so much I can say. The simple fact is that prayer isn’t always fun. But it’s worth every sacrifice. Prayer can keep our lives in line with God’s Word.
Jesus says, “‘A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks’” (Luke 6:45 NKJV).
When we make the conscious decision to replace our worries with prayers, then God’s peace guards our hearts. I don’t know about you, but anxiety is just too dangerous. Open His Word. Rest. Open your mouth. And listen.
Don’t let your guard down.