I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point in my faith journey, I learned my spirit connected to God best when I personalized and prayed Scripture.
This has been especially true when life is filled with stress and anxiety. For many years, two verses in Philippians have guided my prayers during stressful times. They were written by the Apostle Paul to his friends in Philippi while he was in prison, which certainly must have been a very stressful time for Paul.Cross references:
I’ve found Philippians 4:6 & 7 provide an excellent prayer format when life’s circumstances feel out of my control. The words remind me anxiety doesn’t solve anything. It prompts me to bring all of my cares and concerns to God. It also leads me into an attitude of gratitude, reminding me to look for ways to be thankful in spite of my circumstances. Research has shown there are physical and emotional benefits of focusing on gratitude.
God-inspired words of Scripture are good medicine!
Paul told his friends,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6 & 7 NIV)
My prayer often sounds something like this:
Dear God, you know I am anxious about many things. I need the kind of peace that can only come from you. Please help me deal with my anxious thoughts. Right now—in faith—I bring these requests to you:
You tell me to bring my requests with thanksgiving. Thank you for:
I recall one particularly stressful time when it seemed like I was coming to God several times each day with the same anxious thoughts. My prayers during that time often began, “Okay, God, here I am again…”
I don’t want to give the impression that praying in this way is a formula for certain prayer success. Rather, it has become a helpful prayer model for me. I’ve discovered that as I name and relinquish worries and weakness to my God who is so much bigger than those problems, my faith begins to grow. As I turn my thoughts toward thanks rather than angst, stillness enters my spirit, quiets my anxious emotions and gives greater clarity of thought.
I use this same model with other Scriptures as well. Next time, I’ll share a few more passages of Scripture that have helped me.