This is post #22 of a 26-session blog series entitled Two Joyful Pastors – One Great Work of Christ: A Journey with Paul, Timothy, and the Philippian Church. It was Eugene Peterson who said that Philippians is Paul’s happiest letter. Join us as we explore this joyful work of Christ as it manifest itself amongst Paul and Timothy, and the early church of Christ-followers in Philippi. Just maybe, we might learn a few secrets to finding true joy in the midst of our lives as well. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Today’s Lectio Divina: Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4: 6-7 (MsgB)
Webster’s Dictionary defines worry this way:
To give way to anxiety or unease; allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
I know that one, don’t you?
You see, I come from a long line of worriers. My dad, who suffered from chronic depression, could turn any situation into one to be worried over. My brother and I both inherited the fine art of worry from him, to the point that my wife often recognizes when I am struggling with worry whenever she hears me let out a deep sigh.
On occasion, I joke with people, telling them that worry is my spiritual gift!
But, in all honesty, worry is nothing to laugh at. Because, at its minimum, worry steals away any joy you and I might experience in life, and at its worst, it can lead to deep depression, deteriorating health, and yes, even suicide or pre-mature death.
Sadly, well-meaning friends will often say to worriers like me to just stop it!
“Don’t worry…be happy!” is the medicine many prescribe.
But, just like so many other addictions in life, worry is not something you just stop. Worry, and its cousins, anxiety, despair, and depression, all run deeper than that.
So, when I read Paul’s words of encouragement to his friends in Philippi…
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray…
I must admit, at first glance, that I’m a bit suspicious that Paul is saying the same thing my well-meaning friends have told me over the years…”Just stop it, Marty.”
But, here’s the good news.
In recent years, I’ve discovered the gift of Welcoming Prayer.
You can read more details about Welcoming Prayer by visiting our website: But for now, let me give you a brief explanation and application of this special form of prayer.
You see, Welcoming Prayer has at its core, a different worldview of both God and the hard things we experience in this world. For most of my life, I’ve seen worry as something I must either stop or push away. I’ve also perceived worry as a problem to be solved instead of an opportunity to find God in the midst of it.
As a result, whenever I find worry knocking on my door, my gut response is to spend whatever energy I have (and keep in mind, that when I’m worried, energy levels are usually very low) fighting off the worry, pushing it away from me so that I can find God instead.
But with Welcoming Prayer, I can use what energy I do have, putting it to a better purpose, by:
- Stop trying to push worry away or trying to stop it.
- Simply sitting with the worry, allowing myself to feel the reality and weight of its presence.
- Finally, as I’m sitting with my worry, I use what energy I do have in inviting Jesus to come sit with me right here, right now, in the presence of my worried state.
You see the difference?
Rather than trying to fight worry or stop it, I’m using what energy I do have in welcoming Jesus into my worry, allowing Him to take His rightful place at the center of my life.
Now, I realize this approach doesn’t sound very victorious to some. I’ve even had people tell me that I’m allowing this demonic enemy to run roughshod over me.
But, you know what, friends? I simply don’t see it that way.
As I see it, it’s my proactive way of doing what Paul suggests here.
It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
So, rather than spending precious time, energy, and resources trying to fight off my old enemy of worry, I say instead…
“Hello darkness, my old friend.
I’ve come to talk with you again.
Oh, but this time, I’ve also invited my best friend, Jesus, to enter into our conversation.
And, I don’t know about you, but I want to hear what He has to say!”
Today’s Prayer: Jesus, the gut honest truth is that for most of my life, I’ve spent a ton of time, energy, and resources trying to fight off my ancient enemy of worry. Yet, with Welcoming Prayer, I’ve found that sitting with my enemy in quietness and truth while using what energy I do have in welcoming You into our midst is bearing much greater fruit. I thank You, Jesus, that it’s in Your power that You replace worry at the center of my life. Keep going, Jesus. Keep going. For Your Name’s sake and for Your Glory. Amen.
Today’s Questions to Ponder: So, when worry knocks on my door, what’s my primary response? Could it be that my primary worry is falling prey to worry? Or might I take a better response, using Welcoming Prayer with my worry, inviting Jesus to sit down with us, knowing that His perspective and power can carry me through to the other side?
So, how are you experiencing Jesus as we ponder together on this journey into the Book of Philippians?
Two Joyful Pastors – One Great Work of Christ: A Journey with Paul, Timothy, and the Philippian Church. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 26 blogs. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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