Sunday Sermon, ‘Handle With Prayer’

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Are you a worrier? Are you currently worried about something? If so, then today’s sermon is just for you. Please look with me at Philippians 4.

 Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I. Do Not Worry

 A. The Problem with Worry

Here are some reasons why it is wrong to worry.

 1. Worrying Can Consume Us

The King James Version uses the word ‘careful.’ “Be careful for nothing…”it says. The word ‘careful’ originally meant to be ‘full of care.’ “Do not be full of care about anything.”

In His Parable of the Sower Jesus spoke of seed falling among the thorns where the ‘cares’of this world choked it out and caused it to become unfruitful.

On another occasion Jesus used this same word when He corrected Martha about her worrying over the noonday meal. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needed: and Mary hath chosen the good part…” (Luke 10:41)Martha was so worried about providing a meal that she was neglecting her time with Jesus.

2. Worrying Can Control Us

Many translations say, “Do not be anxious…”I looked up the word ‘anxious’ and it means: {to be full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear.}[1]  Notice that anxiety and worry will cause mental distress, uneasiness and fear.   

3. Worrying Shows a Lack of Faith and Trust in God

Jesus said,

“Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)

Why should we not worry about life? We should not worry because our heavenly Father is committed to taking care of us.

4. Worrying is Unproductive

There’s another problem with worry. Worrying is unproductive. Jesus said,

“Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)

 Worrying will not lengthen our life. If anything, worrying will only shorten our life.

B. Paul’s Command to Not Worry

 Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing…

 1. What is Paul Saying?

 a. What Paul is Not Saying

Paul is not saying “Do not be concerned about life.” Paul is not saying, “Unplug from life” and adopt the attitude of ‘whatever.’ Paul actually used this same word in a positive way in chapter 2. Paul said of Timothy, “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” (Philippians 2:20 ESV)Timothy had a concern that was genuine and pure.

b. What Paul is Saying

Paul is not saying, “Don’t be concerned about life.” Rather, he is saying is “Don’t try to handle life on your own. Do not worry about how you are going to fix your problems. Don’t take the weight of it all upon your shoulders as if the outcome depended entirely upon you.”

If we are not to worry, what should we do? Paul tells us to pray.

II. Instead, Pray About Everything

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

 A. The Problem of Worry

There is a story in the Old Testament about a man named Hezekiah who was the king of Jerusalem. One day King Hezekiah received a threatening letter from the king of Assyria which said, “I’m coming with my army to destroy your city and there’s nothing that you can do about it.” The worst part about this letter was Assyria had the power to do it. Israel was no match for Assyria. Therefore, if ever there was a reason to worry, this was it.

Just like the king of Assyria threatened to invade Jerusalem, worry will try to attack our hearts and minds. How do we defend ourselves against the invasion of worry? Paul tells us to pray.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

How does prayer help to protect us from worry?

 B. The Promise of God’s Peace

Notice that Paul tells us in verse 7 that prayer produces peace and it is peace that protects us from worry. 

1. Peace with God

The first form of peace we all must experience is peace ‘with’God. The Bible says,

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ…” (Colossians 1:21-22)

Sin alienates us from God. Sin can even make us hostile towards God. But God loves us so much that He sent His Son to be our Savior. When Jesus died on the cross, He bore in His body the punishment you and I deserve for our sins. Through our faith in Him and His death on the cross, we can be reconciled back to God. The Bible says,

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

Salvation removes the barrier of sin and restores the peace between us and God.

2. Peace from God

There is peace ‘with’God and there is also peace ‘from’God. Peace ‘with’God comes through our faith in Jesus as our Savior. Peace ‘from’God comes through our faith in Jesus as our Master and Lord. The Bible says,

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

Let’s return to our story of Hezekiah. King Hezekiah was in trouble. The massive Assyrian army was standing outside the walls of Jerusalem and their plan was to completely destroy them. What should Hezekiah do? He could worry, but what good would that do? How could worrying about his problem stop the enemy? Rather than worrying, Hezekiah did what we all must do. The Bible says that Hezekiah prayed.

“When Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and he went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.”  (Isaiah 37:14) 

I love that. Hezekiah literally laid the threatening letter out before God. Then he prayed, “Oh God, you alone are God.” That’s a good way to start a prayer if you want to overcome worry. Keep God on the throne. “You hear what the Assyrians are saying. You know that they have the power to destroy us. So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.”

How did God respond to Hezekiah’s prayer? The Bible says, “That night, the angel of the LORD struck down 185,000 soldiers in the camp of the Assyrians.” God defeated the entire Assyrian army with just one angel.

The Bible says, “…be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in the right season: 7 Cast all your care upon him; for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7) 

God will resist the proud and self-sufficient. God will not help those who think they don’t need His help. But He will give His strength and power to those who humble themselves before Him and pray.

C. The Power of Prayer

How do we pray in such a way that it will bring us God’s power and peace? Let’s look once again at what Paul tells us.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Paul tells us that there are three parts to the prayer that defeats worry: 

1. Constant Prayer

             “…in everything by prayer…”

Prayer should be as natural to us as breathing. Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)That doesn’t mean that all we do is sit around and pray. What it means is that we log-in and don’t log-out. We should stay in constant contact with God.

Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1) The thought is, if we pray, we won’t faint; but if we don’t pray, we will faint. Prayer must be a vital part of our everyday walk with the Lord.

2. Heartfelt Prayer

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication…

Whereas the word ‘prayer’ refers to prayer in general; the word ‘supplication’ refers to pouring our hearts out before God. Literally it means to ask or to beg. Paul tells us to “… let your requests be made known unto God.” Rather than worrying and fretting over how we’re going to fix our problems, we should talk to God about them. Like Hezekiah, we should lay it out before God.

              The Bible says –

Hebrews 4:15 We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

There is a difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy says,“I’m sorry. I know it must be rough.” Empathy says, “I know how you feel because I have been there.”

Here is an amazing truth about Jesus that we often overlook. He’s been there. The Bible says that part of the reason Jesus walked upon this earth for 33 ½ years was to enable Him to empathize with us during our times of need. Though His deity kept Him from sinning, His humanity enabled Him to experience the same kind of trials and testings that you and I face. When we pray to God, we’re not talking to someone who is so far removed from our situation that He has no idea of what we’re talking about. We’re talking to God who knows how we feel, and who is ready to help.

3. Thankful Prayer

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Notice that the kind of prayer that defeats worry is thankful prayer. Why is thanksgiving important for defeating worry?

Being thankful helps us to remember who God is and what He can do. Being thankful during a time of need says that we believe not only in the greatness of God, but also in His goodness. Hezekiah prayed,

“Oh God, you alone are God. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.” “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.” (Isaiah 37:17-20)

Conclusion

Are you currently worried about something? Is there a problem in your life that is trying to consume you? If so, do not try to manage it all on your own. Instead, pray to God. Like Hezekiah, lay it out before the Lord. Tell God everything you need and thank Him for everything He has, can, and will do.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

[1]Dictionary.com

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