Paul invites us in Philippians 4:6-7 not to worry about anything but to pray about everything and the peace of God, which by the way, transcends ALL understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It’s important to mention here that Paul wrote the book of Philippians while he was in prison. Hmmm… that gives his words a bit more power, don’t you think? Paul follows up in verse 8 with a suggested mind focus, perhaps knowing that whatever we focus on tends to GROW BIGGER and whatever we starve of our attention, eventually dies: Whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praise worthy…think about such things. Worry is a story we make up in our minds about something in our future. So why do we worry?
Let’s start with understanding the definition of worry: to give way to anxiety or unease or to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulties or troubles. The key point in this definition is that you have a choice: to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulties or troubles…to give way to anxiety. We have a choice as to how much free rent between our two ears we give to distressing thoughts that pop up in our mind. Too often we say: “I can’t help myself.” When the truth is… when you feel like you can’t help yourself … God always can.
What are you worrying about today? Perhaps it’s a story you are telling yourself about an undesirable outcome or worrying about why things happened as they did yesterday and or people will think? God gave us a part in our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) which acts as sort of a lawyer as it hunts and gathers information to back up our often-impoverished view of reality.
The RAS is so strong that it will distort, delete and generalize information that contradicts your choice of focus. For example, if I choose to dwell on something I have asked God to forgive me for and I have truly repented (turned and gone in a different direction to honor God) then I leave the door of my mind open to feelings of regret, guilt and shame that Satan uses to destroy my inner peace. Many times, we will actually defend our worry to the point that we will actually feel frustration when other people offer us solutions.
Resist the urge to camp on the phrase: “I just can’t help myself” add a powerful tail ender that opens up the door in your mind to access solution-based thinking (frontal cortex): AND GOD CAN, therefore with God in and through me… I CAN.
When I went through advanced cancer my children all chipped in with my parents and bought me a western saddle with my favorite verse, Philippians 4:13, on the back of it: I CAN do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength. So, when the serpent of victimization would slither in between my two ears I would “Luke 4” it (in the gospel of Luke chapter 4 Jesus talks back to the devil) using Philippians 4:13.
Just because a thought pops in your head doesn’t mean you have to believe it. Talk back as soon as you realize you recognize that you are allowing your mind to dwell on the difficult situation.
In neurolinguistic programing, there is a tool called erase and replace. Simply capture the negative thought and declare “delete” or erase and quickly speak out a positive statement found in Holy Scripture. For example, you notice a self-defeating thought: I can’t do this or I can’t handle this… DELETE… replace with … YET… God is with me, He has given me a spirit of power, love and self-control. All things are possible with God and I am able to move through difficult situations, I’ve done it before with God and I believe I will do it again.
Paul wrote the letter of Philippians when he was imprisoned in around 62 AD for his faith in Christ. His identity was so grounded in who God said he was that he was able to declare in chapter 4: Do not be anxious about ANYTHING but pray about everything and the peace of God which transcends ALL understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Remember that worry is a story you make up yourself and believe about something in your future.
Remember, you are the landlord of your mind. Stress is the power YOU give to the circumstance or negative thought to define your worth, value and what you believe you are capable of handling successfully. Take it back with the power of God within you. Evict, cancel, delete and fill your mind with positive thoughts that anchor this truth: God adores you. He promises to never leave you or forsake you. With every storm Jesus comes too. God does His greatest work in the darkest nights. As Jesus said to Thomas: stop doubting and BELIEVE.
Transfer your learnings: Give the Holy Spirit permission to keep watch over your thoughts. When you recognize that you are dwelling on a negative thought or situation apply the erase and replace technique: Holy Spirit I want to dwell on what is good, right and beautiful today with your strength, I choose to erase this negative focus in my mind in the name of Jesus and replace it with the knowledge that comes from knowing God and the power of His presence within me.
Prayer: Lord, help me to release all worry and anxiety today as I rest in the truth that you are always working everything for an ultimate good as I trust in you and your will for my life. Jesus, I surrender myself to you, you take care of everything.