HEART LIVING TOOLS

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
- Philippians 4: 6,7 The Message


Don't Just Fret; Pray Then Choose

Aren't you happy that Paul's challenge to replace worry with prayer is not one of the Ten Commandments? I am afraid all of us would be in bad shape if fretting was a sin – like murder or stealing. Instead, Paul issues a personal challenge to his readers: If something is important enough to worry about, then it is worth praying about.

Paul's prayer book was the Psalms. Perhaps he was trying to pass on to his Greek friends the advice of David he would have heard in his childhood from the reading of Psalm 37. Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong…Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it only leads to evil (vs. 1, 8). Here are David's four specific choices to keep worry from dominating your point of view:

"Trust in the Lord and do good…." Worry can paralyze us from acting – which just increases our stress and delays the resolution we want – which then increases stress – and so on. Don't let self-focused paralysis set in to rob you of making choices. You may not be able to make the choice that would resolve your worry, but you can identify other "good things" there are to do and act on them. Ask others you respect to help you evaluate what are "good things" to be done and then do them with courage.

"Delight yourself in the Lord…." Keep the challenge in perspective. Worry is like looking at an anthill through a magnifying glass and seeing a mountain. Have you ever looked back at what seemed so overwhelming and laughed at how small it seems now? Fretting always distorts reality. How big is God compared to what you are worried about? Recall specific instances when God intervened for you and for others in the past and take great delight in what He has done and promised to do.

"Commit your way to the Lord…." Commitment cannot be a half-hearted bargain with God that says, "I will trust You only as long as what You want and what You do makes sense to me." Commitment does not preclude us desperately wanting something to happen or to not happen and being sad when it does not go the way we want. Commitment is a trust that, in the long-run, God's will is best, even though it can seem incredibly painful in the present. Make your commitment to God for the long run of life.

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…." Praying our petitions is very appropriate but it is not the whole of prayer. Prayer is also about listening. Worry makes it very difficult to listen except for the answer we want. It takes discipline and practice to learn listening prayer. It requires courage and persistence to be open to not just what we want to hear but to what may be painful to hear.

There is wonderful wisdom in David's suggestions and a significant promise in Paul's challenge. Both require action and choice on our part. Don't just worry, pray. Then choose from that place to co-create with God.

Small Group Sharing

  1. Are you on contract? Who are you?
  2. How have you shifted positions this week? What were the results?
  3. How did you share your heart this week? What was your private victory?
  4. What challenge or dilemmas are you facing and how can we help?
  5. How would your life be different if you started using this tool for HeartConnexion living?
©2003 Dr. Paul D. Fitzgerald, HeartConnexion Ministries