It is my sincere hope that you are giving this important day every bit of the attention God deserves. Put down those Black Friday sales papers (or mobile device) for a little while. Focus more on your family than you do on television. Take plenty of time to count your blessings. Thank God for all He has done for you.
Psychologists have discovered something the Bible taught us a very long time ago. Giving thanks is a key to reducing anxiety, building resilience and so much more.
Nearly two-thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul wrote:
“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.” – Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
Let’s break that down a little:
DON’T BE ANXIOUS
If you are like me, you are probably saying, “I wish it were that easy.” or perhaps a little more sarcastically, “Sure, let me just flip my switch…” The pain, sleeplessness, and overwhelming fear that often accompanies anxiety is not easy to overcome. The great news is that the Bible doesn’t stop with “Don’t be anxious,” it also gives us a prescription for the cure.
USE PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION
Philippians 4 teaches us to pray and supplicate when we are experiencing anxiety. Prayer is serious and purposeful communion or fellowship. Supplication implies petition that clearly states what we need. This is not the “Oh God please help me prayer” we often say when we are at the end of our rope. Instead, it is making an appointment with God and letting Him know what is really on your heart.
Giving thanks fits perfectly with our theme and is often overlooked in our prayer time. The Psalmist encouraged us to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts…” (Psalm 100:4) According to the model of the ancient tabernacle we can’t even get to the place of asking God for His help until we have entered the gates of thanksgiving and gone through the courts of praise.
Many prayers throughout the Bible begin with thanksgiving for all the things God did in the past. This kind of praying provides several benefits:
- Thanksgiving let’s God know how much we appreciate his leadership.
- Remembering what God has done in the past builds our faith for the future.
- Faith shifts our perspective. It’s never hopeless when God is with us.
- Releasing hopelessness builds our resilience. Knowing God has helped us before, encourages us that He can and will help us again.
PEACE OF GOD
Paul goes on to say that when we use prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving to God, we receive a peace that doesn’t make any sense. In other words, nothing tangible has changed, yet we are given an assurance that everything is going to be alright. He goes on to say that this peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
This promise reminds us of Jesus in the midst of the storm. The storm was raging. By all obvious signs, the lives of everyone on board was in great jeopardy. Unlike the disciples, whose anxiety levels were off the charts, Jesus had no such problems. He was asleep. Resting comfortably in the midst of life-threatening circumstances. Now that is Peace.
Imagine experiencing peace that defies all human understanding. Imagine a peace that so protects your heart and mind that you are able to sleep like a baby in the arms of God. The Bible tells us that it is not only possible, but it gives us the instructions on how to get there. It all starts when a heart of thanksgiving connects with the all powerful God.
My hope and desire for you this Thanksgiving and Holy Day season is this, Don’t be anxious, just be thankful!