When we feel anxious, it’s usually because we have gone into problem solving mode apart from God. In fact, anxiety is rooted in self-sufficiency. When God is left out of the equation, and we begin to try to solve our own problems apart from Him, anxiety is certain to follow. We were not meant to solve our problems apart from God. We were meant to cast our care on Him (I Peter 5:7).
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) reads, ” 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.” Therefore, the question is if we are anxious, why? Philippians 4:6-7 can be used as a diagnostic tool. Therefore, we must ask ourselves the following questions:
1) Have we prayed? In other words, are we in constant communication with God when things are good, and are we maintaining our relationship with Him? That is really the main purpose of prayer, not to bombard heaven with our personal “wish list.” The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
2) Have we brought the petition before God? Have we asked Him directly to intervene on our behalf? Or are we trying to work the situation out on our own, having not even consulted God about it? Are we being self-sufficient and prideful by trying to work everything out on our own which is indicative of an inflated ego? I once read that ego stands for “Edging God Out.” Thus, we must be willing to ask for God’s help and believe that He can and will make a difference.
3) Are we thankful after we pray and give Him our petitions to enlist His help? If we ask for His help and believe that it’s already done, then we should be thankful. Thankfulness communicates to God that we have truly left the matter in His capable hands. Thankfulness indicates a confident trust in His ability and power to work on our behalf. If we fail to thank Him, that is the indication of a lack of trust and faith. When our faith and trust in God is non-existent, we can be sure that anxiety will be the result. In Isaiah 26:3, the prophet relays, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.” Thus, trust in God is the bedrock of peace. Thankfulness should flow out of that trust because it is simply a by-product of having confidence in the Almighty God of the Universe.
So the next time we feel anxious, let us use the diagnostic tool of Philippians 4:6-7 to find out why. Once we know what the problem is, we can take steps to correct it. We can cultivate our relationship with God through prayer, ask for His help, and thank Him for the positive outcome based on our faith and trust in Him. When we avoid self-sufficiency and pride at all costs, then we will truly be able to walk in freedom from anxiety as God intended.