Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Phil. 4:6)
Are you anxious about anything? Anything at all … health, family, finances, children, grandchildren, work, ministry, politics, dangers at home and abroad?
There really is no end to the things we can worry about. (Which is why I’ve stopped watching the news.) So, what shall we do? Take classes? Read books? Work harder? Make plans? Get organized? Become an activist? Get a massage? See a doctor? Eat cake? ... maybe.
These could be helpful suggestions depending on the situation. Even so, there is only one thing that is necessary at all times in all places and for every anxious moment — prayer.
Are you surprised? Of course not! If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, it is likely that you’ve already heard this message a hundred times. That’s why it is not my intent to teach anything new but simply to remind us of the one thing that we always forget to do.
As a refresher course, let’s break down some of the things that trouble us and recall the remedy laid out in the Scriptures:
1. Bodily sickness and suffering: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray … Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him … .” (James 5:13-15)
2. Financial/material needs: Pray then like this … “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt. 6:11)
3. Struggles with guilt and sin against God and others: Pray then like this … “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12)
4. Trials and temptations in the world and from the Devil: Pray then like this …”Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6:13)
5. Too little faith: “I bow my knees … so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith …” (Ephesians 3:14-19)
6. Lack of love and joy in the spirit: “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13) … “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. “ (Gal. 5:22-23)
7. Friends and family who fall into sin: “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life …” (1 John 5:16)
8. Conflict and division in the church: “I ask for those who will believe in me … that they may all be one even as we are one.” (John 17:20-22)
9. Spiritual darkness and ignorance around the world: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:9-10)
10. Sinners we love who need salvation: “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Rom. 10:1)
11. No opportunities to share the gospel with those who need salvation: “Pray that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ …” (Col. 4:3)
12. Fear in sharing the gospel when these opportunities arise: “Pray for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel … that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph. 6:19-20)
13. Shortage of workers to help us share the gospel: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:37-38)
There you go: Pray about everything! Every little and big thing, every step of the way. … Prayer is the key that unlocks every door for the believer.
This is why we are constantly called to pray about everything (Phil. 4:6) and at all times (1 Thess. 5:17). Whatever we need, whatever we do, we cast every care before our heavenly father who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). And we come boldly to his throne through Jesus’ name (Heb. 4:14-16) and in the power and love of the holy spirit. (Rom. 8:15) Now is not the time to worry or whine. It is the time to pray.
So this is our wake-up call. We’ve heard it a hundred times before, and I suspect we’ll need to hear it at least a thousand times more.
The Rev. Michael John is pastor of Market Street Baptist Church in Amesbury.