When I was in 8th grade confirmation class at my church, my pastor taught a lesson about prayer, and what he started with is something I’ll never forget. He asked the room what we thought was the opposite of worry. A few people gave hesitant answers like “safety” or “peace,” but we had no clue what the right answer was supposed to be.
He said that a lot of people think “safety” or “security” or “not having anything to worry about” are the opposite of worry, but those can’t be the right answers. Why? Because there are people who seem to have it all who are chronic worriers, and there are people living in dire circumstances who aren’t constantly caught up in worry.
So if solving the problems we’re worried about doesn’t actually solve the problem of worry itself, what’s the answer?
Worry is the opposite of prayer. I used to get kind of annoyed when people would quote Philippians 4:6 to me in my moments of worry. It says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (ESV). I would roll my eyes at the idea that I could just decide to not be anxious about stuff, as if it was that simple.
But as I’ve matured and come to terms with the fact that worry is always going to be something I struggle with, I’ve realized that there really is no other answer. Other things like good community, deep breathing exercises, and journaling can certainly help. But praying to God, offering up our worries, knowing that He knows our hearts and understands more about what we’re going through than anyone else ever could, brings a peace that nothing else can.
In fact, when we are worried and refuse to pray about it, what we’re really telling God is that we are in control, that we can handle whatever is going on better than He could. And we know that’s not true, so why pretend?
Prayer can be anywhere, anytime, long or short, formal or casual. God hears it no matter how we say it. In every situation, no matter how serious, we can offer up our worries to God and say “let me be at peace, knowing that this is in Your hands.”
If worry is something you struggle with, consider watching Women of Faith’s class on worry on Liftable. Alita Reynolds and guest Gari Meacham share their struggles, give viewers a Biblical perspective on worry, and lay out some steps to take toward a solution.