The Way To Cope With Worry Is Prayer
Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
I started to call prayer the “cure” to worry, but I think “cope” is a better word, because as long as we are in the flesh there is no cure to man's spiritual disease. The flesh cannot be tamed. When we are saved, that is, born-again, the Spirit of the Lord comes to indwell us (live in our body, 1st Corinthians 3:16,17). So now we have two natures: the old carnal nature (the flesh), and the new (which is Christ, 2nd Corinthians 5:17). The old nature is inherently evil, prone to sin and worry. Galatians 5:19-21 lists the works of the flesh. Children don't have to be taught how to hate, lie and steal, because it is in our human nature from birth (Romans 5:12).
As a believer, we have a constant choice to make, whether to walk in the flesh or walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” In the Scripture we just read it is clear that a person can be saved (live in the Holy Spirit), but not walk in (obey) that Spirit. The Bible exhorts us to also walk (yield) in the Spirit by which we are saved.
Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
When I find myself worrying, I catch myself and the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance Philippians 4:6, which says, BE CAREFUL (anxiety, stress, worry) FOR NOTHING!!! BUT IN EVERY THING BY PRAYER, AND SUPPLICATION (petition, to keep asking, persevering prayer) WITH THANKSGIVING (attitude is very important, because God resists the proud, James 4:6)... LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD (He already knows, but He wants you to know that you need Him).. AND THE PEACE OF GOD THAT PASSETH ALL UNDERSTANDING SHALL KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS!!! Isn't that precious! Placing unchangeable circumstances into God's hands by prayer is all that we can do, and then we can have the sweet assurance and peace in knowing that God is on the case. This requires faith that God hears, cares and answers prayers in accordance with His will. It requires faith to trust that God is on the job, tending to our prayers as He promised (1st Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6-7).
There are many precious Scriptures that tell us how much God is involved in the life of a believer. Psalms 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” These are powerful truths to understand. God gives us our desires. I love to play steel guitar. God gave me that desire. God put the desire into my heart back in 2002 to start my online ministry, to preach the truth in cyberspace as a modern-day John the Baptist! It has been a gargantuan blessing and humbling privilege to reach over 53,000,000 people over the past 11-years with the truth of God's Word. I thank God for using little ole me to do such a big work for Him. This ministry is a labor of love, which was birthed and continues by much affliction, both physically and in my soul. God has done a work in my heart, mind and soul. The Bible says that God works in every believer BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE!!! Amen! That's awesome. God gave me the desire, and then God helped me accomplish that desire. I've learned a little each day, step-by-step as I go, day-by-day!
When I look back over my life, I am happy to know that God ordered my steps. That's not to say that God overrides our freewill as human beings, not at all. It simply means that God has predestined the believer's life to BE CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST. Romans 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” God looked down in His foreknowledge and planned my life around my choices and mistakes, in ways that only He could do. For example: God didn't put the evil desire in Joseph's half brother's heart to sell their brother into slavery; but God knew before Joseph and his brothers were ever conceived in the womb what would happen.
So God arranged things, so that Joseph would one day be lifted up to become governor over all of Egypt. If Joseph hadn't been sold into slavery, he couldn't have become governor over all of Egypt. Truly, God works in mysterious ways. That is, mysterious to us because we cannot see what He is doing. We have been given a clear picture of the life of Joseph, but Joseph had no idea what was going on in his life. That is a wonderful truth, because our life will one day be told as was the life of Joseph. We can clearly see what Joseph and his brothers couldn't see. We see God's hand at work and how beautifully the Lord made everything to work out for good. Do you think that your life is any different? No, not at all, and that is what I am trying to teach here.
Why do you think God shares with us the lives of saints like Joseph, Esther, Daniel and David? God wants us to see that even though those saints suffered hardships, and were afflicted, thinking that all hope was gone at times; yet everything worked out fine. God knew that David would commit adultery and murder before David was even conceived in the womb. Yet, God chose David as king over Israel. Never underestimate the will of God. Psalms 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” God PROMISES to guide us as Christians until our life's journey is complete and we are safely home in Heaven. If we chose to go into sin, then we are leaving the protective will of God. Albeit, God in His love, mercy and grace still works in our life.
David left the will of God when he committed adultery, impregnated Bathsheba, and conspired to murder her husband Uriah. Yet, God was still working in David's life, which is why God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David about what he had done. All God can do is try, because He will not force anyone to do right. Calvinists are wrong when they teach the heresy of “irresistible grace,” that is, that God forces Himself on those whom He has preordained (chosen) to be saved. Biblically, God NEVER chooses anyone for salvation. We must make that choice or we'll spend eternity in the Lake of Fire with Satan. However, once we are saved, then we belong to God and He will chastise and scourge us as His children. 1st Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” I cherish being owned by God. That makes me feel loved, safe and secure. God has made an investment in me. God created me. He sent His only begotten Son to bleed, suffer and die for me.
God has planned out my life in advance, taking my failures, sins, faults, disabilities and mistakes and using them all for His glory and purpose, as only God can do. If the Lord was able to speak trillions of stars in hundreds of billions of galaxies (and that's just the known universe) into existence by His Word (2nd Peter 3:5), then don't you also think that God can arrange the circumstances in our life in every minute detail? Of course He can, He can, He can... AND HE DOES according to Philippians 2:13... “BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE”!!! Amen and amen! I've said all this in relation to prayer! When we pray, we are affecting God's plans. Our prayers DO change things. As Pastor William Grady says, “Prayer works! One way or another, prayer works!” And it does I assure you my friend. If prayer didn't change things, then what would be the need for prayer.
We see again and again throughout the Bible that prayer changed things. When David prayed for mercy, the death angel stopped killing the Israelites. 72,000 people died because of David's pride when he numbered the people to measure his own greatness, instead of glorifying God. When Moses prayed for God not to destroy the Israelites who had erected a golden calf to worship during his absence, God repented and decided not to destroy His people. When the believers of the Church prayed for Peter's release from prison, the Lord sent an angel who delivered Peter. But it took the death of James to prompt the Christians to pray for Peter. If they had prayed sooner, no doubt James would have also been delivered.
Literally, prayer is a matter of life and death my friend. Do you place that kind of emphasis upon prayer? No, I doubt it! I didn't for a long time either, but I do now, which is why I am sharing this truth with you. You don't have to pray according to a schedule, nor do you have to pray on your knees in a physical fashion, nor do you have to fold your hands or close your eyes to pray. JUST PRAY!!! God just wants us to pray! Prayer is the key to humility. Think about what I am about to say and you'll find that it is true... when you sin, are unkind to others or have been worrying all week, it's because you haven't been praying. And the opposite is true too. When we pray, asking God to help, guide and work in our life behind the scenes, we can claim the peace of God THAT PASSETH ALL UNDERSTANDING.
Literally, there are many times in life when we simply don't understand why things are the way they are. There are times when nothing makes sense. It seems like the more that we try to do right, the worse things become. When we give, we suffer more loss. The popular “give to get” recipe of the greedy televangelists doesn't work in real life, unless you're part of their scam. When you give money to a homeless person, don't be surprised if there's another bill that you didn't expect. While we're trying to live right and everything's going wrong, wicked people are living in sin and everything seems to be going right for them. The Bible addresses this disturbing phenomena. Ecclesiastes 8:12, “Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.” It appears that the homosexuals, Hollywood adulterers, abortionists, Sin City Vegas and horde of evil doers are getting away with their wickedness; but they are not, judgment day is coming!
Perhaps the worst sin of all, next to rejecting Christ (which is the unpardonable sin), is not praying. Not praying is akin to atheism. As believers we need and ought to pray continually. Pray while walking. Pray while resting. Pray while cooking. Pray, pray, pray! Jesus' disciples never asked to learn how to preach or teach; but rather, they asked the Lord to teach them how “TO PRAY.” TEACH US TO PRAY! (Luke 11:1). Prayer is more important than preaching, because preaching without prayer is powerless. Without the Spirit of God moving in people's hearts no one can get saved and lives cannot be changed for Heaven. Prayer changes things! If Samuel's mother hadn't prayed, then he wouldn't have been given by the Lord. If we don't pray, then we forfeit many of God's blessings! All God asks as believers is that we pray! The rest is up to Him. The Bible says don't worry about anything, bring it to God in prayer. There's nothing too small or insignificant for God.
Please understand that praying doesn't mean that we are immune to traumatizing experiences, inexplicable mental anguish and the hurt caused by other people. Jesus comforted His disciples in John 16:22 by telling them (and us) that when He returns someday... “YOUR JOY NO MAN TAKETH FROM YOU”!!! People often rob us of our joy, but we can get it back by going to the Lord in prayer and placing our hurts, burdens and problems into His hands. God cares (1st Peter 5:7). God wants to help us! The Lord invites us to draw near to Him, promising that HE WILL DRAW NEAR UNTO US too (James 4:8). Grace is God giving us what we don't deserve. Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve. God's grace and mercy is abundant, secured in His love on the basis of Christ's blood sacrifice. Without the blood of Jesus no man can draw close to God. Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
As Christians we belong to God, both by creation and by the blood of Jesus that bought us. 1st Corinthians 7:23, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” The evil Madonna's of this world are not getting away with anything. God is keeping track, recording, every word, every deed, and even their every thought (Proverbs 24:13; Hebrews 4:13). Revelation 20:11-15 warns that THE BOOKS SHALL BE OPENED, and the DEAD shall be judged from the things written in those books. God doesn't use computers that crash. I love that the Bible says God uses good old-fashioned books. I love books. I have over one thousand books. Don't let the internet cause you to abandon buying, owning, reading, loving and collecting books! Books are a blessing!
One of the most amazing Scripture passages in the Bible is Matthew 6:7-8, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Jesus tells us NOT to pray like THE HEATHEN PRAY. That's amazing. The heathen DO pray. The unsaved world doesn't recognize who the heathens are and are not. Roman Catholics are heathens! Catholics foolishly trust in their self-righteousness, confessional booth and seven sacraments to get them to Heaven. That's not the way of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 plainly teach that eternal life is a gift from God, and not by works of righteousness. We are saved by HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, that is, the righteousness of Jesus Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:21).
Notice also in Matthew 6:7-8 that Jesus said the Father already KNOWS what we have need of even before we ask. That is such an important truth to grasp. Psalms 139:1-5 says that God knows when we lay down, and when we rise up, and the Lord knows our every thought at all times. God never takes a break. God never gets tired or bored. Nothing ever occurs to God. The Lord doesn't have to try to remember anything. I can't even grasp the perfection, omnipotence and greatness of God, and neither can you. Psalms 145:3, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.”
God already knows all about our broken heart, burdens and obstacles in life. In fact, God knows the very number of hairs on top of our head, and when every sparrow falls from the sky (Matthew 10:29-30). God is good to us all. Psalms 145:9, “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Thank you Lord for all your blessings!
Men Ought Always To Pray
Jesus asks in Luke 18:8 if He will find faith when He returns? It's is not just coincidence that the Lord mentions this Scripture concerning faith in relation to continued PRAYER. Not just prayer, but specifically, CONTINUING PRAYER. That is what the parable of the unjust judge teaches. Luke 18:1 confirms that Jesus told this parable, so that MEN OUGHT ALWAYS TO PRAY, AND NOT TO FAINT!!!
This is an amazing and often overlooked teaching in the Bible. Notice verses 1 and 8. Verse one says “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” This is the stated purpose of the parable, that is, to compel us to continue praying even when God doesn't answer. And then verse 8 asks if the Lord will find faith when He returns? The conclusion is clear. Will believers stop praying when God doesn't answer? Or will we continue, persevering in continual prayer, trusting upon the Lord to work His will in His own time? How's your prayer life? By the way, I don't like the term prayer life. The Bible never teaches for a Christian to have a prayer life; but rather, a life of prayer. Amen! We are commanded in 1st Thessalonians 5:17 to PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.
Evangelist John R. Rice (1895-1980) teaches in his booklet, “WHY PRAY?” ...Commanded to Pray All the Time
Again, why pray? Because we are commanded to pray all the time. You say, “I don't see how that is possible.” Well, since God commanded it, and it is repeated so many times in the Bible, don't you think we had better take it to heart and pay attention to it and learn what God means and learn how to do that which seems impossible?
Pray all the time? Yes. Many Scriptures say so. One is in Luke 18:1, “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Men ought to pray all the time. They ought never get tired, discouraged. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”
Jesus goes from there to give a parable. He said,
“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. [The American Standard Version has it clearer, “I will avenge her, lest she wear me out by her continual coming.”] And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?”
He said it again in Romans 12:12. There the Scripture says a Christian ought to be “rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Not praying frequently, not praying regularly. All that is right, but that is not what He said. He said, “ . . . continuing instant in prayer.” Does that mean always on the alert in prayer? Evidently. Oh, a Christian ought to pray all the time.
You say you don't see how we could pray all the time. Then, you had better pay attention for that is what God is plainly saying here. You say, “Brother Rice, surely God didn't mean that literally you should pray all the time.” Well, we already know that is what He said; we will argue about what He meant a little later. But there can be no doubt that He said Christians should be, “continuing instant in prayer.”
...Oh, that men ought to pray all the time, with all kinds of prayer and with all kinds of supplication and begging and perseverance and for all the saints.
My, what a lot of “alls” in there! And notice—“supplication.” He said all in one verse, “always” and “supplication” and “perseverance and supplication.” He is talking about persistent, never-ceasing prayer. A Christian ought to pray all the time.
SOURCE: WHY PRAY?, by John R. Rice; Pages 4-6; Sword Of The Lord Publishers, 1975; ISBN: 0-87398-915-5
I agree with Dr. Rice, who said on page 3 in his opening remark, “I am persuaded that the average Christian doesn't pray three minutes a day.” I sincerely doubt if most Christians even pray, until something bad happens and they need God's help. Oh, how selfish we can be if we don't purpose in our mind and heart to please God with our thoughts, words and behavior. Hebrews 11:5 says that Enoch walked with God and had this testimony... THAT HE PLEASED GOD! Amen! The next verse says that it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God without faith.
Prayer and faith are inseparable my friend. This is evidenced by the Lord's teaching on persevering prayer in Luke 18:1-8, and then He finished His parable with this Scripture on faith, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). The believer who doesn't pray lacks faith, for if he truly feared God with whom we all have to do one day (Hebrews 4:13), then he would be compelled to depart from evil and obey the Lord. Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
Notice the phrase in Luke 18:7, “though he bear long with them.” The Greek word for the phrase “he bear long” is makrothumeo and means “to be long spirited, that is, (objectively) forbearing or (subjectively) patient.” My friend, do you know what it means to FORBEAR? It means not to do something. It means God doesn't do anything when we pray. The Bible is saying that God makes us continue praying because He is pleased by that. This is an important truth. Many people complain that God never answers their prayers. That's because they waver in faith and don't continue in prayer as Luke 18:1-8 teaches. James 1:6, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
Biblical prayer is persevering prayer. Now for ourselves the Lord told us not to pray long prayers (Matthew 6:7-8). But the Lord wants us to think on the things of OTHERS (Philippians 2:4-5, 20-21). God wants us to get out of the SELF life. The world lives for self and sin. Christians ought to live for God and others. This is why we are told to pray for others; such as in 1st Timothy 2:1, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” Verse 4 gives us the context of this Scripture passage, 1st Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Our prayers for others ought to be bathed in concern for getting them saved. Pastor Jack Hyles explains intercessory prayer (Priests And Intercessors) in his awesome book titled, Exploring Prayer With Jack Hyles.
Dr. John R. Rice further teaches believers HOW to pray without ceasing...Prayer Needs to Continue in the Subconscious Mind
Somebody says, “I don't see how I can do that.” But it is commanded. Here it is again in I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” Pray without stopping. Pray day and night. Pray all the time. Any honest translation of that has to come out saying that God intends us to pray all the time.
Well, how can one pray all the time? You say we sometimes have to work. I know, but one can still love his wife and whistle songs and know when quitting time comes—while you are conscious of other things. You can pray doing your work. “Well sometimes one has to stop and eat,” you say. I know, but you don't stop talking when you eat. So you don't have to stop praying, either. Your heart should cry to God when you eat, the same as when you talk and eat.”
You say, “But sometimes I've got to sleep.” Yes, I know but even when you sleep, somebody lives there. Maybe in the night you set a time when you have to get up in the morning. You don't have an alarm clock, so what do you do? You have to catch a plane (or a bus or go to a new shift on the job). how will you get up? You set your internal alarm clock and you wake yourself up at a time you never would wake otherwise. In the subconscious nature, one can take on a burden about it and wake yourself up. Many, many people have found that to be true. Somebody lives there even when you are asleep.
...You put this down: if this Christianity gets down deep enough in your soul, down in your subconscious nature, and you get burdened for souls and burdened to have the power of God, that part will be there when you are asleep, too, and your heart can cry out to God. You know, a Christian isn't much of a Christian except on the inside, down below the surface of consciousness.
SOURCE: WHY PRAY?, by John R. Rice; Pages 6-7; Sword Of The Lord Publishers, 1975; ISBN: 0-87398-915-5
See that ye fall not out in the way, whoever you may be. Continue persevering in prayer.
The Christian is not supposed to have a prayer life, but a life of prayer!
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