YouVersion is a free online Bible app that you can access on your computer or install on your smartphone or tablet.
It can be read or listened to in over 1300 languages and more than 2000 versions of the Bible.
Each year YouVersion lists the most shared, highlighted and bookmarked verse of the year. For 2019 it was Philippians 4:6. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Some translations render the verse this way: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
Interestingly YouVersion reports this is the third consecutive year its users have highlighted Bible warnings against worry as their #1 verse. In 2018 it was Isaiah 41:10. “Do not fear, for I am with You.” And in 2017 the verse was Joshua 1:9. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
All of this points to a universal need that people of all nations, languages, and races have regarding the problem of worry.
Mental health care providers have been saying for many years that worry is one of the most common and destructive habits that people get caught up in.
Dr. Jelena Kecmanovic, a clinical psychologist in the Washington-metropolitan area and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, recently wrote an article for the Washington Post saying that “excessive worry is one of the most pressing psychological problems I see.”
“My patients worry about work, relationships, children, health and money,” observed Dr. Kecmanovic. “When worrying becomes persistent, long-lasting and difficult to control, it can seriously affect daily life. And if the unrelenting worry is accompanied by anxiety symptoms such as irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, fatigue, and poor sleep, that person may be suffering from something called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).”
The article offers some insights as well as a few tips on dealing with worry. Chronic worriers might profit from it. However, the simple, succinct advice of the apostle Paul in the passage will go a long way to help people of faith cope with worry.
1. Change your focus.
This verse and its context implies and reminds us of the sovereignty of God. Much of our worries are about things we can’t control, what will happen in the future, or problems that have occurred in the past.
Dr. Walter Calvert did a study of the things we worry about and 92% of our worries are a waste of time and energy. Only about 8% are legitimate issues.
Yet, even those issues we need to ask ourselves, “Do I believe in the providence of God?” The power of God? The protection of God? The provisions of God? The promises of God? If so, focusing on His Divine care and compassion will greatly decrease your worries.
2. Learn to pray in the right way.
Paul didn’t flippantly say, “Just pray and everything will be ok.” He uses three specific words to help us. Prayer. Supplication. Thanksgiving.
When you’re prone to worry about something, pray. Talk to God. Communicate your feelings, thoughts, and concerns. He hears. He listens. He cares.
Prayer is a form of worship and devotion based on our relationship with God and reminds us that He is big enough to solve our problems.
Supplication is seeking, asking and entreating God regarding something that’s troubling us. It’s a more intense type of prayer. It’s the way Jesus prayed in the garden.
Adoration is giving thanks. It’s prayer that springs from a grateful heart who both sees its blessings and knows their source. This type of prayer reminds of what we do have instead of what we don’t’ have.
Note that Paul counsels us to take “everything to God in prayer.” There’s an old adage that says, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.”
Finally, remember the words of the late Erma Bombeck who once quipped, “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman