Tuesday, May 01, 2007

On Prayer

(picture courtesy of Riverside Church)
From time to time, I do experience moments of anxiety. Some people call me a worrier, and I do not dispute that. I worry a lot about the future. It is however in those time of helplessness, and worry that draw me closer to God in prayer. Any prayer if used as a request-answering mechanism is not true prayer. Prayer must always be from God's perspective. Praying in Jesus's name is essentially putting our needs and desires aside, and laying them in front of the heavenly father, and trusting him to decide which to take care or which to temporarily put aside. It is not the answering, but the trusting that binds our hearts with God. I have been thinking of Paul's exhortation to the Philippians.
"Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)"

I am searching for the cure for anxiety. This verse is a gem, but it needs to be injected daily, for anxiety is a chronic spiritual ailment. It affects the body's functions and the emotional complexes for the worse. It affects relationship with God and with others. That is why memorizing this verse and playing it in our heads everyday is a good remedy. Perhaps it could be a life-saver!

PHIL 4:6-7
This verse exhorts us decide which side of the see-saw to stand on. The word 'but' is a turning point for the worse or for the better. It is a decision we have to make. Either we worry about everything, or we do not let our worries consume our whole being. Paul however does not mean we do nothing. He simply says we do not spend our energies to worry and be anxious. Instead, the attitude of the believer is to cast everything before God in prayer and in thanksgiving. That is interesting, as I think about what are the things we worry about. I can think of one pertinent point, that our anxiety stems from worrying about things we do not have. Thanksgiving on the other hand is concerned with gratitude for things we do have. This thread is common. Often we tend to think that the grass is greener on the other side. That is frequently a false notion. Worrying about things we do not have causes us to mindless hallucination about negative future, a future that is bleak and does not reflect the reality of the power of the Cross. On the other hand, thanksgiving is being grateful for the present and past, and gratitude prepares our hearts to please God in advance for the future! What a promise! That is done in prayer. For in prayer, we cannot afford to be dishonest. We cannot hide our deeds or our thoughts. We appear open and naked before God. This reminds me about Mark Twain's oft-quoted words about understanding Scripture.
"Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture which they cannot understand. But as for me, I always notice that the passages of Scripture which trouble me most, are those that I do understand" (Mark Twain)

This attitude contains elements of Phil 4:6-7 within it. If we are able to give thanks and pray to God about what we already know or do understand, God will help us take care of those we have yet to come to understand. This is the essence of living a non-anxious life. This is what I need to learn more and more.


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