Why we MUST pray "with thanksgiving" if we are anxious

Have you ever been anxious? Of course you have. We’ve all been there.

Maybe it occurs when you pay bills at the kitchen table with the knowledge that there simply isn’t enough money.

Maybe it happened when you were sitting in a waiting room as a loved one was undergoing surgery down the hall.

Maybe you’re a student and it happens as a deadline nears or you are sitting at a desk waiting to take a major test.

The possibilities are endless. Yet, we all agree that anxiety is a normal, sometimes frequent, response to life.

Well, in my time with the Lord this morning, I came across a familiar verse but I had a ‘eureka’ moment reading it. All of a sudden, I got it! It made perfect sense!

Let me share the verse and then some comments on how God has told us to get rid of anxiety.

Philippians 4:6-7
“Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.”

So, in these two verses, we see that in order to combat anxiety, we are told to pray. We need to unload our burdens and talk to God about them. 

But, there are two words that I have often overlooked that are essential to dealing with anxiety. It is the words: “with thanksgiving.”

You see, God is speaking to people who are anxious. They are worried. (Why else would he tell them not to be anxious?)

So, he is telling anxious people to pray “with thanksgiving.” 

Now, that’s powerful! Why? Because when I’m worried, I rarely ever thank God in my prayers. My prayers typically fall into two categories: 1) “God why!?” and 2) “God, get me out of this mess!”

If you think about the attitude of thanksgiving, it doesn’t come natural at all. But, it is the way out of anxiety.

For instance, let’s say that I have just been diagnosed with a terrible illness. I can get anxious (I probably would!) and remain filled with anxiety (this response is perfectly normal – most people do it).

However, I could intentionally apply the principle of Philippians 4:6-7 and spend time talking to God. In those prayers, I could express my thanksgiving to God. 

I might exercise faith and thank God for what He is doing in the illness by providing me with incentive to depend up Him.
I could thank Him for who I may be able to encourage along the way.
I could thank Him for promising to work the illness out for my ultimate good and His glory.
I could thank Him that even if I don’t beat the illness that Heaven awaits me.
The possibilities to express my thanks are endless.

While being thankful for the bad stuff doesn’t come natural, it is pleasing to God because it is an expression of faith in Him. But, it also helps us to put our problems into perspective. When we can thank God for anything and everything that comes our way, anxiety will have no place to hide in our minds and hearts. In fact, gratitude to God will chase it away. 

Why not comply with Philippians 4:6-7 the next time the waters get a little rough.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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