“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Are you a worrier? Don’t despair, worry can be a great springboard into prayer. When you worry you are demonstrating a willingness to take responsibility for something. You are carrying a burden. This is a great beginning, but you need to focus on the “positive possibility” by taking worry into prayer.
“What anxiety and hope actually have in common is a sense of what is possible. In anxiety we anticipate possible danger. In hope we anticipate possible deliverance.” Juergen Moltmann
The Greek word for anxiety is merimnaó which carries a sense of literally “being torn apart.” We all know that feeling of being torn apart, churned up on the inside, as our anxious thoughts prophetically run wild and predict the worst possible scenarios for the burdens we carry. These burdens may be about “anything” – big or small, but all our anythings and “everythings” can be transformed by a simple step.
We need to change trains.
Leave the train of anxiety which is heading to a painful dead-end and catch the new train of prayer which will take you to the place of wholeness, peace and “shalom.” Instead of having a torn heart and a spinning mind, you can find the place of harmony and togetherness, shielded by hope in, and intimacy with Christ. There are three important stops on this prayer train:
This is literally the “place” of prayer. In a world which had no room for the Messiah at Christmas, we often find “no place” for prayer in our lives. We need to make space for God, give a place to the supernatural act of talking to heaven. Having a physical place to go to can be a great help in developing this discipline of space making. The original Greek word also means “to wish towards.” Wishing heavenwards – a great definition of prayer. Wishing to the little gods of money and power will never bring the deliverance hoped for and will inevitably put us back onto the train of worry. However, those who have found the space to wish beyond the earth to a benevolent, redeeming God will be rolling along on the tracks of peace.
Deésis – Petition/Supplication
This was often seen as an entreaty addressed to a King. the Greek word means “being in lack”, and true prayer uncovers the bounty of the giver but the sheer dependence of the petitioner. The great Chinese pastor Watchman Nee put it this way.
“True prayer uncovers the emptiness in the petitioner but the fullness in the Petitioned”
It is in this place of supplication that the groanings of the previous post, find their expression. It is in the place of petition that we are thrown into seasons of fasting and tearful entreaty.
This last station is by far the most beautiful. It is finding the place of thanks and gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is the key to successful praying and a life of shalom. It is no surprise that the Greek word gives us the same word for the thanksgiving meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. We are called to bring every person and situation to that place of thankful grace. By prayer, it is as if we can pass on the piece of sacrificial bread to the prayer subject and say “The Body of Christ keep you in eternal life.” Thank you Lord for this person, thank you for this situation. Thank you for taking me to this place and time in my life. Linger long at the station of thanksgiving, as it will truly deliver you from the pagan prayer of worry and accusation.
The Pagan prayer
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:7-8
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Matthieu 6:31-32
The pagan prayer is a man centred, works orientated (many words) religious duty. It wants things in return for works. It seeks the gift rather than the giver. It prefers food to the Father. It will take you onto the tracks of worry.
Seek a King not a thing!
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
Seek the giver, seek the Father. You don’t have to pray for stuff. Forget about it! Seek first, prioritize a living, intimate relationship with your Father King and all the blessings of life will follow.
From this place of relationship, provision, peace and security, you will have space to pray for the really important stuff…
Are you on the Shalom train?