Why Be Anxious, Just Pray

If we are honest, we all have to admit that we have a problem with anxiety. Some, obviously, are more prone to worry than others. It seems that no matter how many problems God solves for us, there is always another problem on the back burner that we can bring to the forefront of our mind and start worrying about. Paul provides a wonderful antidote to this frustrating problem in Philippians 4:6Be anxious about nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (by prayer); and the peace of God, which surpasses our understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts by Christ Jesus.

Here is a video in which I shared on this subject.

Paul frequently addresses this issue in the Bible because he understands how easily believers can become anxious and worried. Life is full of challenges and problems. God often allows these problems to come into our lives to humble us, to test what is in our hearts, and to encourage us to turn to Him in trusting prayer.

We have a volitional decision to make. We can choose to worry or we can choose to pray. Prayer takes us into God’s presence, and results in peace of mind as we acknowledge that not only is He able, but He will always bring about the best result for His glory, and for the development of our character. When we choose to keep our eyes on the problem instead of on God, the result is continuing anxiety, restlessness, and discouragement. Paul had to keep reminding his audience, “Let your requests be made known to God”. In other words, we should always remember to pray. Prayer should be our first resort when we face troubles of any kind. Our heavenly Father delights in our prayers, and promises to hear them. These are very encouraging truths from God’s Word.

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Prayer is Simple

Prayer is Simple

We hate to admit it, but we are pretty good at taking simple things and making them hard. The same is true when it comes to prayer. Our prayers don’t need to be eloquent or profound, nor do they have to be long and drawn out, or filled with emotion.

Deer in the trees

Deer in the trees

Prayer is really nothing more than a conversation between the believer and his God. When we come to the Father in prayer, we should come with a heartfelt attitude of humility and complete dependence upon Him. We should acknowledge that He is the Shepherd, and we are the sheep.

We often know what we want when we approach God in prayer, but surprisingly often we don’t know what we need. We can always trust God, and be confident that He knows exactly what we need, and what is best for us in every circumstance of life. This is true whether we are experiencing a mountaintop of joy, or the depths of darkness and despair. He seeks His glory and desires to make us more like Jesus. What more should we desire?

Mount Hood, Oregon from 30,000 feet

Mount Hood, Oregon from 30,000 feet

Admittedly there are times we come to God overwhelmed with anxiety, and full of confusion—so much so, that we don’t even know how to pray. At those moments, Romans 8:26 teaches us that God’s Spirit intercedes and prays for us in perfect conformity with the Father’s will.

California Beach

California Beach

It’s so simple. Let God pray through you just like Elijah allowed God to pray through him. When we do this, you could say we are actually praying the Lord’s prayer—not the familiar prayer in Matthew 6 we have come to know as the Lord’s Prayer, but we are simply praying what God wants us to pray.

California Beach

California Beach

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Elijah Believed God

Elijah Believed God

Statue of Elijah on Mount Carmel where Elijah Prayed in Israel

Statue of Elijah on Mount Carmel where Elijah Prayed in Israel

ELIJAH:

  • Had great confidence in God, and was not intimated by enemies
  • Did, at times, become depressed and discouraged
  • Believed in the one true God of the Bible and rejected all other gods
  • Obeyed God
  • Performed miracles in God’s power
  • Offered prayer that brought fire down from heaven and controlled the rain
  • Prayed in accordance with God’s will
  • Was a true servant of the Lord
  • Did not have his own agenda
  • Followed God’s leading step-by-step
  • Was an example of a righteous man whose prayers God heard

It is important to remember that the power of prayer comes not from the one who prays, or from the way he or she prays. The power of prayer is in the omnipotent God to whom prayer is directed. God is the power behind prayer. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and yet  he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three and a half years. He prayed again, and a faithful God gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Jezreel Valley north of Mount Carmel where Elijah Prayed in Israel

Jezreel Valley north of Mount Carmel where Elijah Prayed in Israel

Later we will discuss the parallel between the Lord’s Prayer and Elijah’s ministry, and also examine a quick history of Elijah in the Old Testament.

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Prayer to Encourage the Believer

Praying for Healing from Depression

James 5:13-18 (KJV): “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

Statue of Elijah on Mount Carmel

Statue of Elijah on Mount Carmel, Israel

This passage gives several interesting points on the subject of prayer for our consideration:

  • We should pray any time we have a need, or when we wish to offer praise to a faithful God
  • We can and should pray together
  • We can ask the elders in the church to pray for us
  • The phrase, “The prayer of faith” points us to the important connection between faith and answered prayer
  • Forgiveness of sins can result from prayer
  • Confessing our faults to one another can be beneficial
  • The fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful
  • James then cites for us, the example of the prophet Elijah, a man of prayer
  • He had passions and feelings just like us, that is, he was entirely human
  • He prayed earnestly and persistently
  • God answered Elijah’s prayers that were in accordance with His will

Some people argue that James 5:13-18 is not talking about prayer for physical healing from sickness alone, but about praying for healing from feeling low, depression and discouragement as well. The Greek words for “sick” in verse 14 and 15, and “healed” in verse 16, do allow this interpretation. Notice, also, the word “cheerful” in verse 13.  Cheerfulness is contrasted with depression. This suggests we can have a positive attitude when we pray because we are praying to the One who can do something about whatever difficulties we face in life. God does not want us low, but to be encouraged.

Jezreel Valley north of Mount Carmel where Elijah Prayed in Israel

Jezreel Valley north of Mount Carmel, Israel, where Elijah Prayed

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Elijah’s Name – My God is Jehovah

Biblical names are often full of great meaning, and that is definitely true of Elijah’s name.

The Hebrew word for “God” in the Old Testament is Elohim, which is occasionally shortened to EL. Elijah’s name begins with “God”, telling us that he has been marked by God for His purposes.

California Beach

California Beach

Elijah’s name ends with “JAH”, a shortened form of the Hebrew word, Jehovah, God’s personal name. Elijah’s name, therefore, includes the word for “God” as well as the word for “Jehovah”. What a great honor to have God’s names as part of one’s own!  Elijah’s name reminds us that he has a special ministry to fulfill for God.

Inserted between those two words, EL and JAH, is the letter “I”, which translates from the Hebrew as “me”, “my” or “mine”, asserting Elijah’s personal relationship with his God.

California Beach

California Beach

Putting all this together, then, we find that Elijah’s name means “My God is Jehovah”, “The Lord is my God”, or “Jehovah God is very personal”. You could say the name means: “God is very personal to me”

California Beach

California Beach

Elijah’s name had great significance, and was a testimony to who Elijah was, and what he would do for God’s people.

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Seeing God Who is Hidden

God sometimes seems to us to be quiet or hidden. Many of us would prefer a very visible God, but God is Spirit, and often works in wonderfully hidden ways. We can’t always see what He is doing. Occasionally we may experience a big miracle by God’s power like Elijah did, but most of the time there are no miracles, big or small.

Priest Lake, Idaho

Priest Lake, Idaho

Do you remember the Lord Jesus in the gospels? There we saw Him perform many dramatic miracles, but consider how many people were not touched by Him with miraculous healing, or how many He simply passed by. The truth is, God does not always work by means of miracles.

You might recall that Israel was very callous toward God in Elijah’s day. They ignored God’s Word and worshipped the idols of the pagan peoples among whom they lived. God jealousy desired for His people to respond to Him by faith but He occasionally did miracles through prophets like Elijah and others to prove these prophets were His spokesmen. God wanted to win the hearts of His wayward people. The miracles were God’s gracious warning of impending judgment for continued disobedience.

California Beach

California Beach

Elijah performed many miracles by God’s power, but he was still very human. There were times he was fearful, and felt alone and weak. Wow, does sound like us sometimes! These human frailties, however, did not hinder Elijah from remaining faithful in ministry, nor did they keep him from following His God day-in-and-day out.

California Beach

California Beach

God is God, and Elijah is Elijah! What does that mean? God knows we are human, and He mercifully reaches out to us as He did to Elijah and the people of Israel. God wants us to live by means of faith as we depend upon His strength and wisdom every day, especially when He allows trials to come our way. He has a loving purpose for these trials as He shapes our character to be more and more like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Anger Kills Us – Jonah

Jonah’s anger is killing him. He’s a miserable man because he’s not free—he’s still a slave to his own bitterness, limitations, and weaknesses. Some of us are miserable for the same reasons. God is working on us, teaching us to trust Him (that is trust God) specifically in those areas where it’s so very, very hard to discern what He’s doing and why.

California Beach

California Beach

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