Pray, Trust, Thank
When I counsel with people, I often recommend they pray about their problems. I encourage my clients to pray about everything, especially for circumstances they can not control. I recommend they pray for wisdom and discernment, for guidance and direction, and for self-control and change. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Emphasis added.) Notice how this verse states that we should pray about every situation; it does not say pray about certain situations or pray about only important situations. We know that prayer is quite powerful, and yet people often use prayer as a last resort. They make many attempts in their own power to change the situation and only when they come to the end of themselves, do they decide to pray. I have done this, and I have later realized how much time and energy I have wasted because I did not first begin with prayer.
Notice Philippians 4:6 indicates that by praying, people can protect themselves from anxiety. However, I think many people pray and still worry. It is only human nature to feel anxious about circumstances that are not in our control and yet affect us very deeply. Yet this scripture tells us not to, so where is the disconnect? I believe the disconnect is in the trusting. It is one thing to pray and it is yet another thing to trust God to truly take care of the matter. Trusting can be very difficult. We are not sure if God will answer, and if He answers, we are not sure we will like His answer or the timing of His answer. I believe God always answers with either a “Yes,” “No,” or “Later.” It can be challenging to submit to God’s will, yet who better to submit to than the creator of the universe (Acts 4:24) who loved you enough to create you (Psalm 139:13) and who knows you so well, He knows how many hairs you have on your head (Matthew 10:30), not to mention who loves you unconditionally (Psalm 89:2) to the point of dying for you, so He can spend eternity with you in Heaven (John 3:16). Who do you know, besides God, who is that powerful and loves you this much? Proverbs 3:5 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Emphasis added.) In other words, submitting to God’s will and trusting Him to answer prayers, in accordance to knowledge God has and we do not have (let’s face it, we think we know more than we actually do), is one way to get free from the nagging anxiety so many of us experience.
Certainly praying and trusting are huge steps, but one other major component to all of this is thanking God, before we even get the answers to our prayers. Philippians 4:6 reads “with thanksgiving.” How would you feel if someone asked you to do something for them and then they thanked you before you had even acted upon their request? Would you feel more or less compelled to help them? I think most of us would feel more willing because we recognize that the person not only had enough confidence in us to ask us, but they also have enough faith in us to thank us ahead of time. I seriously doubt it hurts God’s feelings when we have enough faith in Him to be thankful before we even see the answers He will provide. Additionally, being thankful creates an attitude of gratitude which further pushes away worry and anxiety.
God wants to help because he loves us, unconditionally. So when you are struggling, even with smaller issues, ask Him to help. Talk to Him through prayer, trust Him to take care of you and yours, and thank Him before you even know the answers. Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” so PRAY, TRUST, THANK.