Praying Overcomes Anxiety

I recently viewed a list of over 500 phobias. They range from Aerophobia (fear of inhaling bad air) to Xanthophobia (fear of the color yellow). Some of them are quite silly – but the list consists of phobias that have been verified in scientific or medical publications. While we should question the legitimacy of some anxieties listed, we must recognize that fear is intrinsic to fallen man. All of us suffer some amount of fear and anxiety.

But for the Christian, we are empowered against anxieties.

Philippians 4:6 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

The contrast is stark: be anxious for nothing, but in everything:let your requests be made known to God. Prayer is the key to overcoming all forms of anxiety.

When we say “prayer” our minds typically settle on the act of making our requests only. While petitioning is an important element in prayer, we miss the powerful benefit that prayer provides for us who believe – the nearness of God and the certainty of His sovereign purpose. Prayer is not a cacophonous means to force an otherwise unwilling God to heed our will – this is the concept in pagan prayers (Matt. 6:7). Prayer is first and foremost communion with the Holy One.

Jesus instructs us to pray personally: “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matt. 6:6). All the “you’s” in this verse are singular, not plural. We are each individually to find that place of solitude (where our minds are the least distracted) to speak personally with the Lord.

Prayer is not the “bat-phone” to summon God to another emergency in our lives, but the gracious blessing of abiding nearness with the living God. Letting our “requests be made known to God” is very significant, but it should always be done in the context of “prayer (worship),” “supplication (dependence),” and “thanksgiving (praise).” This is the power of prayer over anxiety – breaking the grip of fear by adjusting our hearts and minds toward “Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).