Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6–7, ESV).
Throughout the day we need little arrow prayers—quick prayers in the car, in the office, in the kitchen. When we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), this connects us to the Lord in sweet communion. But these quick-fire prayers, though important, don’t yield the deepest peace.
Nor does ritual praying. Mindless repetition is unbiblical and won’t bring you peace. Little prayers yield little peace. Big prayers yield big peace.
Here’s a practical checklist: fervent prayer, by yourself, out loud, kneeling down, with a list. If you pray like that for five or ten minutes, a river of peace will rush down the parched canyon of your anxiety. Peace is coming like a flood to a person praying fervently to the Lord.
The enemy of your peace is anxiety. If you are living crippled by anxiety, that suggests your prayer life could use some focused improvement. Review the past month of your life. Have you been fretting over some things? Fearful? Anxious? Worried? No doubt, those feelings increased as you moved further and further from your last, fervent prayer time with God.
On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your prayerfulness over the past month? Ten means you’re rocking your world several times a day with faith-filled, awesome prayer. Zero means . . . zero. A prayer vacuum in your life. Perhaps you can’t even recall the last time you knelt down and prayed out loud fervently with a list.
On the same scale of one to ten, rate your anxiety level. Zero means you are calm. Nothing deeply divides you. Though bad things happen to you, they don’t rob you of peace. Ten equates to frequently freaking out, crippled by dividing cares—no peace.
Now notice the correlation. The lower your score in prayer, the higher your score in anxiety. The higher your score in prayer, the lower your score in anxiety. Where fervent prayer abounds, peace abounds.
If you want to lower your score in anxiety, the solution is to raise your score in prayer. This isn’t a mystery. It’s not a function of personality, as if some people are natural pray-ers and others missed out on that gene. Philippians 4:6 clearly links anxiety and prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” When anxiety goes up, up, up, you must pray it back down. Start by reviewing what you know to be true about God and His faithfulness.
Go in a room by yourself, shut the door, pray out loud fervently with a list, and begin to thank God. Thank Him for who He is, all He has done in your life, the ways you’ve seen Him provide, and His personal, intimate care for you.
When you pray “with thanksgiving” and review God’s résumé of faithfulness, you become more aware of who He has been and will continue to be. In light of His faithfulness, your anxiety will minimize and your problems will shrink into perspective.
It’s a holy exchange—anxiety for peace, through prayer. Available for you today.
This post originally appeared on Dr. James MacDonald’s daily devotional Our Journey and was republished with permission.
James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church-planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship, teaches the practical application of God’s Word on the Walk in the Word radio and television programs, and is a gifted author and speaker. You can find out more about James and his ministries at WalkintheWord.org.