The past few days we have received instruction from the Lord as to how to battle against worry. The apostle Paul’s words to the Philippian believers have taught us to worry about nothing and pray about everything in order that the peace of God may stand as a century at the door of our hearts. These spiritual disciplines provide immediate relief.
However, as most of us who struggle with anxiety know, the nervous and fearful thoughts and emotions thrive on reoccurrence. So how do we reorient our emotions and lifelong thinking patterns in order to win the long-term war? Here are a few ways.
- Cultivate a habit of daily thanksgiving. Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It’s a wonderful day for Americans to remember important events in our nation’s history. It’s also a blessed time for believers in Christ to be reminded of what the Scriptures say about being thankful everyday, not merely one day per year. “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess 5:18) has no time boundaries. Daily, moment by moment, we must discipline our selves to thank God for specific ways in which He has blessed us and for His profound mercy toward us in Christ.
- Retrain your mind to “think on these things.” Philippians 4:6-7 is followed by verse 8. Paul’s exhortation to think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise is a continuation of his thoughts on the peace of God (the larger context is Phil 4:4-9). His argument begins with the command to rejoice (v. 4) and ends with the assurance of intervention from the God of peace (v. 9). I am grateful to my friend Bob Kellemen who brought the connection of verse 8 to the previous “anxiety verses” in his helpful booklet.
- Fill your mind with the Word of God. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” is immediately followed by an explanation as to how Christ rules our hearts. He does so by means of the Holy Spirit as we “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within [us] with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col 3:15-16).
- Set aside time in your schedule for concentrated prayer. Prayer should the life-breath of the believer, a moment-by-moment attitude and atmosphere in which we live. However, this will never take the place of concentrated, uninterrupted times of prayer. The Lord Jesus—humanity as God intended it to be—was dependent upon the Father and demonstrated this through lengthy times of prayer. See Luke 6:12; Matthew 14:23).
- Remain in the love of God. ”Perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn 4:18). No love is as perfect as God’s love for His children. We must regularly return to the Scriptures that assure us of His great love for us. As we bask in His love our fears are cast out. [Read previous post I Am Loved.]
By disciplining ourselves to apply this wartime strategy of for living we will go beyond winning the small skirmishes to advancing forward in the long-term war against unbelief and indwelling sin.