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Posted: February 20, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Let worries become prayers

Philippians 4:6-7 in The Message translation reads, "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."

I use to be a world class worrier. If there was something to be concerned about, I’d find it and stew over it. If there wasn’t something to be concerned over, I’d invent something and worry about that. Some of you reading this article know exactly what I am talking about.

Dr. Walter Cavert did a study of the things we worry about. He discovered that 40 percent of the things we worry about never happen, 30 percent of our worries concern the past, 12 percent of our worries are needless worries about our health, 10 percent of our worries are insignificant or petty concern — things that will really not make much of a difference in our lives one way or another, only 8 percent of our worries are actually over legitimate troubles. Sadly, because we have expended 92 percent of our emotional energies over things that won’t happen or things we can’t change, we generally face legitimate issues with a depleted resources and find ourselves unable to cope.

As I write this column, I am told that worry and anxiety problems are at epidemic proportions in our world. Dr. Archibald Hart writes, "Anxiety disorders are the most common emotional struggles of today affecting some 20 to 30 million people." And with the way things are headed, that number is going to get much higher in the next few years.

Generally we treat worry as a psychological problem. May I suggest that worry for the believer is not a psychological problem but a theological problem. Worry is the opposite of trust. Worry spurns God’s promises of protection and provision and causes us to act as if God doesn’t exist.

I am told that a blinding fog, large enough to cover seven city blocks to a height of 100 feet, actually contains less than one glass of water. Think of it. One glass of water atomized into sixty thousand droplets can virtually blind a seven city block area.

Worry can do that as well. Michael Youseff says, "One small worry fogs up your whole consciousness. It creeps into every corner, distracting your attention, making you underperform, spoiling your enjoyment of life. A small glass of worry goes a long way." He’s right. Been there, done it, have the medical records to prove it.

When I discovered that worry was a problem of my soul more than it was a problem of my mind, my struggle changed quickly and radically. Today my wife thinks I live in Oz because I seem to worry so little. I do not live in Oz; my place of refuge is much safer and unlike the mythical realm of Oz, my place of safety is very real. I live in the confidence that what God promised, He will do.

Perhaps worry has a hold on you today. Why not make a radical change? "Instead of worrying, pray." In fact, let your worry be your catalyst to pray. That plan certainly helped me. Worry changes nothing, but prayer can change anything — even the consequences of past failures.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA 30016 or john.pearrell@gatewaycommunity.org

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