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The Point of prayer

The Point of Prayer

How do we put the prescription for the problem of anxiety—that is, to "be anxious for nothing"—into action? Through prayer. Here's how Paul laid it out: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). Paul pivoted from "don't do this" to "do that." If the problem is anxiety, then the solution is substituting something in its place. It's like God's replacement therapy: the cure for worry is to redirect your energy and replace your anxiety with prayer.

The Bible gives this process a name: casting. You're probably familiar with the verse that word comes from, 1 Peter 5:7: "Casting all your care upon [God]." Care in that verse is related to the same Greek word we already looked at, merimnaó, referring to thoughts that divide the mind. When you cast your cares on God, you bring unity to your mind by focusing on His ability to take care of you, "for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). As The Message puts that verse, "Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you."

When you cast your worry on God, you have to do it wholeheartedly. When you skip a rock over the surface of a lake, for instance, you don't look at where it sank, thinking, I'll go back for it later. It's gone, so let it go. Prayer is like taking off the burden of, say, a heavy backpack and tossing it before the Lord. We ask Him to handle our issues or help us handle them, and we take a moment to breathe Him in and remind ourselves of who He is.

So why is it that prayer, the first thing we should do, often ends up being the last thing we try? We finally get to a point where we say, "There's nothing left to do but pray." But that's where we should have started back when the issue began. When worry first rears its head, we need to cast it away like a hot potato—"Here, God, it's all yours!"—and keep doing that all along the way.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6‭-‬7 ESV

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