Episode 5. Turn Your Worries Into Prayers. Philippians 4:1-9
Do you find yourself in an endless cycle of worry that drains all your energy? There really is a better way. Join Nicole and Sharon as they talk about ways to turn worries into prayers ... and how that simple change can literally change everything else!
Announcer 00:01 Well. Hello, tired one. Are you feeling a bit frazzled and worn out? Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. We hope lessons from God’s word and encouragement from us will lead you to soul rest. Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Nicole 00:21 Welcome back to Sweet Selah Moments podcast, episode five ‘Turn your worries into prayers’. Today we are going to talk about worry. We all do it so Sharon, let’s talk. Worry just seems so natural. What do we do with it?
Sharon It’s a very common problem isn’t it Nicole? And we do all do it. We’re going to talk about it, but I want to talk a little bit first about the twin to worry that we sometimes get confused with and that is anxiety. It’s a very different thing from worry and let me try to explain the differences. Anxiety is when unbeknownst to you, when you’re not even thinking about something troubling, all of a sudden your heart rate is going 90,000 miles a minute. You’re sweating and you’re panicked. That’s a physiological reaction from your body. It’s not something that you planned on doing and it can hit it the weirdest times.
Sharon 01:20 Have you ever had that happen?
Nicole Oh absolutely. I actually have struggled with anxiety since I was a little girl. It comes out of the blue and it just kind of shocked me, like why am I anxious right now if nothing’s really happening? There’s no bear. Right? And there it is, right?
Sharon Yes. That’s not the same as worry. And let me just read one beautiful verse on anxiety. So those of you that are listening can feel assured that this is not a sin. Anxiety’s a different beastie from worry, which is a sin. So Psalm 94:19 says this, ‘When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy’ and I so love that because when you’ve got great anxiety, everything’s going crazy and God doesn’t say, do not be anxious and worried. He consoles
Nicole We can joy in that. .
Sharon 02:13 Yes, there is joy in that. But the worry side of it is different. Worry isn’t a physiological reaction. Worry is a choice in our brain to go over and over and over and over, something that might happen that isn’t happening. I was really good at that. I can remember seeing my daughters on a bike and imagining them falling off the bike and splitting their head open. Why? And I had a choice at that moment. I could continue to think those thoughts and get more and more scared and then work myself into anxiety or I could pray. And this is where I learned to turn my worries into prayer because I worried about everything. If Ray was home late from work first five or 10 minutes, I was okay. The next 10 minutes I started to think, maybe he got in a car accident, by 20 minutes he was dead, you know, and I’m thinking who I should call first. Oh my mother or my sister? I can’t call my mother. She’ll freak. I mean I was planning the funeral! What in the world? And then he’d come home and say there was bad traffic and I was sitting for 20 minutes
Sharon 03:27 deciding what to do with the insurance money. So that’s the foolishness of worry. And so we’re going to talk about that today, but this passage that we’re going to read for our Sweet Selah Moment passage for the day is from Philippians four and it’s the first nine verses. So let’s read them together. And why don’t you start and people that are listening, just listen. This is God’s word and the best part of every podcast is when we read God’s word, because we can mess up with our words, but God doesn’t mess up with his.
Nicole ‘So therefore my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord and this way, dear friends,
Sharon I plead with you, Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
Nicole 04:21 Yes, I ask you, my true companion help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel along with Clemens and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the book of life.
Sharon Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near.
Nicole Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God
Sharon and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Nicole Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.
Sharon Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you.’
Sharon 05:25 So that’s our passage for today and it starts with a fight, which is kind of interesting. Before we get into the peace from the prayers. Euodia and Syntyche, whoever they were, were not getting along well. Really. I know it was pretty weird and Paul is pleading with them to be of the same mind. So whatever was wrong was big enough that the church was aware of it. And you know, sometimes arguments can start from the smallest things and from misunderstandings. And two good, well-meaning people can just clash. I don’t know but I bet that’s what happened with Euodia and Syntyche. Because they’re equally being talked to. It’s not like one was right and the other was wrong and had to be brought under church discipline. And Paul was really willing to bring people under church discipline if they needed it.
Sharon 06:14 So my guess is they both had a perspective and I was thinking of a quarrel Ray and I had years ago that is so in line with this, nobody’s really right or wrong. Ray is super literal, so you have to be careful how you ask questions of him because he’ll actually answer your question. But he won’t answer the nuances. We didn’t have kids yet. We were newlyweds and Oh, it was a beautiful spring day and I really wanted to take a walk and he was reading a book. And so I came up to him with my cutest little smile and I said, do you want to take a walk with me? And, he’s a literalist, right? He was reading his book. He said, ‘no’ that was it. I was 22 and it turned into this huge fight. I was so offended by it.
Sharon 07:03 I immediately went to ‘you don’t love me. You don’t care about me. The bloom is off our romance and it is terrible.’ And all he had done is be Ray. I asked if he wanted to take a walk and he didn’t, he was quite happy with his book. So that’s an example of two well-meaning people getting really crossed signals because of course he loved me. And if I had said, ‘honey, I want to take a walk with you, would you finish your chapter and go for a walk with me?’ I know this because I’ve done it this way too. It works way better. He’s way more likely to say yes. But if I’m going to ask a simple question, I’m going to get my literalist husband’s answer. Right. So Euodia’s and Syntyche’s might’ve been more serious than that, but I wanted to give it as an example because in this particular case, Paul is not putting blame on either one of them.
Sharon 08:02 He’s not saying ’Syntyche, you know, you need to get over being jealous’ or ‘Euodia you need to do whatever. You guys need to be of one mind and one spirit. You’ve miscommunicated somehow so badly that it’s disrupting the church. Yeah. And then you can get into this nasty cycle in your minds and once you think somebody is not favoring you, not thinking the best of you, you judge everything they say and do by the thought that they’re kind of like an enemy now. Right? And that’s what I did with poor Ray. Well, obviously you don’t love me, you know, and you put onto them things that aren’t even there and take everything the wrong way. After that, what we have in our mind is that okay, well this must mean this. That’s what we do. We go to ‘this must mean…’ Yes, instead of taking it at face value.
Sharon 08:51 So yes. Paul, before he gets into these wonderful instructions, wants Euodia and Syntyche to get their act together and he asks for the other people around them to help them be in harmony with one another again because that’s best. Then goes into how to live well. And I think it came out of his thinking that they weren’t and he wanted to give them advice on how to live well. So he starts in verse four with ‘rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice. I love how Paul repeats. Do you repeat instructions to your children or the first time you say it, Nicole, are they just with you?
Nicole Oh yes, they listen the first time. It’s wonderful. No, I say so many times I need to record a phrase and just hit the play button for my children. That’d be like 300 of my words every day. Over and over, over and over again.
Sharon Yes. My grandchildren lived with me last year, and I heard my daughter Mary say, Gabriel, sit on your bottom and straight in the chair, over and over because he’s a squirmy little boy.
Sharon 10:00 And that’s so normal. But guess what? It’s normal with grownups too.
Nicole I know. That’s funny.
Sharon So here’s Paul going, let me just tell you this twice because you’re not really good at it. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again. I say rejoice. Okay. So we may be crabby with people. We may be in a weirdo mood, but we’re always to remember all that we’ve got to rejoice in the Lord. And in the eternal perspective. We’ve got a lot to rejoice in. We’re saved. We are creatures that would be lost because of the sin and gunk in our lives. If it were not for a Savior who took them from us and carried that burden and took the punishment on himself. I mean, right there, right there is a reason to rejoice. And then there’s heaven that’s pretty rejoicing. It’s pretty amazing.
Nicole Pretty amazing. Yes.
Sharon 10:54 And then there’s the fact that he never leaves us or forsakes us and on and on. So, he starts his final exhortations with this rejoice thing. And then, and this might be still dealing with Euodia and Syntyche. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. He isn’t that far from you. Be gentle. I have such a hard time with gentleness sometimes. I’m very bossy. Are you an oldest child, I think you are aren’t you?
Sharon Look at us. I know we’re in trouble. We’re both oldest children. We’re particular and like things done a certain way, the right way.
Nicole That’s hard.
Sharon It is hard and it’s hard to be gentle when you know the right way, right?
Sharon So just do it the right way. Do it that way. So we can become harsh without meaning to and that can cause arguments. And of course Ray had to learn that just saying no to me that day, that was not gentle you know.
Sharon 11:45 But he had no ill intent toward me. He was totally astonished when I was upset. Like what? You asked me a question, I answered your question. So we have to work on gentleness. I think we all do. We have to work on gentleness. But then we move into the main theme song of this particular podcast, which is ‘turn your worries into prayers’. It says, ‘do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’. And the reason why I take this as more of a worry kind of anxious is because it’s referring to things. Anxiety is often not related to a thing at that moment. It’s just a body reaction to, maybe, pressures that were earlier. But it’s not directly related to that circle in your mind where you’re like, ‘he’s not home from work
Sharon 12:37 he must be dead’ kind of where you just worry and worry. Or, they’re never going to forgive me for saying this and repeating an argument over and over in their minds. Oh my goodness, we can torture ourselves. And the thing with worry is the more you think those thoughts, the more it becomes that you almost dig a groove in your brain, you know? And then so easily when the same kind of thing happens, you just slide right back into that groove. And the deeper that groove is, the easier to get in it and the harder it is to climb out of it. So that’s worry or anxiety in this particular translation, but anxious about things, about things you’re thinking about. Right. But then Paul says the answer to that in every situation, notice that every, this is just not occasionally but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present these requests to God. Sharon 13:38 There’s the answer. And I can remember the day that I decided to take this passage seriously. I mean, seriously, I decided that and I had my five words. Turn your worries into prayer.
Nicole Oh, I like that one. One for each finger. That’s a good illustration.
Sharon Do you know how much I prayed the next nine months? Because, trying that out, every time I worried I prayed. Every time. It wasn’t like, Kathryn’s wobbling on her bike and I see her and I’m worried. So I said, you know, ‘dear Lord, help Kathryn not to fall off her bike ‘and I was done because, Oh no. As soon as I prayed that, I was worrying about her bike again. But because I’d made that determination, I just prayed again.
Sharon And again and again. And if I was afraid on the highway because I thought Ray was not as safe as I wanted him to be, although he really was,
Sharon 14:31 it was, again, I just had this worry thing going on where everything was scary. I would pray the whole time. I wouldn’t allow that groove. I wouldn’t allow the worry. I just prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. I mean I was talking to God constantly because I really was really good at the worry thing. But somewhere in that first year, and it was months, I don’t know if it was nine months, but it was months, nine months just sounds good because that’s like giving birth to a baby, right? It was like I was in labor for a long time over this. It left me. That’s the only way I know how to say it. Nicole, it left me. I wasn’t scared anymore. I could drive to Logan Airport without being afraid of it. People could back up in their car and I wasn’t panicked that they were going to hit a wall.
Sharon 15:14 It left me and I don’t know why, but all I can think is the enemy of my soul, doesn’t want me at peace. He wants me in fear and torment all the time and that’s what worry does to you. And so if every time he poked at me with that, I prayed, he lost. He’s like, this is not a good strategy. She’s praying a lot now, all the time. She’s running right to God with this. Rats! She’s not sticking in her brain and getting deeper and deeper into that groove. She’s actually talking to God more and it just left me and I have not had that kind of struggle since. And I’ll be in situations where I remember when it would have been this really panicky thing for me and I still praise God for it and Lord, you freed me.
Sharon 16:05 Right. But it wasn’t a quick freeing. It really wasn’t. It was a determined effort to pray, pray, pray, pray, pray and not give up. I think too often when we read a biblical command, we try it once and if it does not work we quit. ‘Well, this one hasn’t worked.’ Yeah. But God never says try it once and if it fails, go onto something else. He wants us to continue doing these commands, you know, whether they seem to work or not. We’re not given a pass on loving people either. It’s not, well I love them and it didn’t work. There’s still crabby so now I don’t have to love them anymore. I think not. Right? Unfortunately we have to love them until we die. It just never stops.
Sharon 16:55 And it’s the same with worry. It’s just an amazing thing. Whenever a thought lands, and we can’t help thoughts that land. Right. We can either let them in or let them do the churning or we can turn it into a prayer and just pray a ton. Like all the time, pray. Because he doesn’t change the circumstances. There’s still the kids climbing trees and husband’s driving to work in traffic. And so those things don’t go away. No, they don’t. It’s just developing that habit of having to pray. I’m worried. Let’s pray. Yup. And again, let’s pray. Yup. And again and again, yes, yes.
Nicole And at least you’re doing something good with it. That’s true. Worry does no good.
Sharon None. You’re just stuck in this pot stirring. But if you’re praying you’re doing something, you’re doing the only thing you can do.
Sharon 17:39 Because I can’t I can’t control traffic and I cannot control whether Kathryn is going to stay on a bike. You can’t bubble wrap them even though we try to. No. So that’s the only way to do it. And here it is. This is Paul’s advice and he probably knew what he was talking about and I do believe he did.
Nicole It also is kind of fun because in that same verse it says to present the prayers with thanksgiving. And I think that’s a really important part of prayer to not just say ‘help me, help me, help me, help me’.
Sharon Which can also be anxiety producing. Just dwelling on your problems as you’re praying. But the thanksgiving part calms you. So example, Kathryn’s on her bike and she’s wobbling. , ‘Oh Lord, please help her not to fall off the bike. Father, please, if she does fall off the bike help it to be little.
Sharon 18:25 Lord protect her head? You know, or wherever I’m going with it. That doesn’t necessarily calm me as much as it should. Right. Thank you Lord that I can talk to you in prayer. Thank you Father, that I have a healthy child who can ride a bike. Lord, thank you that we can afford a bike. Right? And every thank you calms me.
Nicole Mm. Just seeing what I can find in that situation to be thankful for. And that’s why that’s there because we don’t do that naturally when we’re anxious. We’re not thinking about our blessings or the thankful things. We’re just seeing the death and the doom and gloom and it getting worse and worse.
Sharon Yes. That’s a great shift of focus. Isn’t that amazing?
Nicole Yes it is. Yes
Sharon and that is why it’s there. I believe that too, because that’s part of the not being anxious and worrying. It is the thanking.
Sharon 19:11 And we have to add that into the prayers and petitions.
Nicole We do. Or we’ll still be in the circle.
Sharon Right, right.
Nicole Wow, that’s so good. I love that part.
Sharon And then the next verse, verse seven tells you what happens when you do this repeatedly. Why don’t you read it, Nicole?
Nicole ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
Sharon That’s what happens. And not immediately, sometimes. Sometimes there’s a lot of praying for us, but it does happen. Right. And the peace of God guards you.
Nicole And that’s what happened to you. He was guarding your mind and your heart. So then those worries weren’t getting through.
Sharon They weren’t getting through anymore. It worked and it was so good and it really does transcend understanding, because circumstances don’t change. Right, it doesn’t make sense to not worry about it anymore. But there it is. There it is. And there can be peace in the midst of the hardest things because I’m finding what to be thankful for in them and I’m praying my way through them and not worrying my way through them. So I recommend it. I recommend trying it. You will pray a lot. That’s good. I mean, I feel that’s good. We can’t really get anything negative from praying too much. There’s no negative consequences.
Sharon 20:25 It’s a good thing to try. And of course this is praying with your eyes open, watching your child on the bike. It’s not like you’re walking into your bedroom and burying your head under a pillow praying. But it’s praying as you go. And that’s a kind of prayer. You know, there’s the prayer where you’re quiet during your Sweet Selah time in the morning and you’re wholly with God. And then there’s the prayer in the moment.
Sharon One of my favorite prayers in the moment is the story of Nehemiah who was cup bearer to the King and was really grieved about Jerusalem and wanted to go back and rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. And yet, how does he tell the King this? So he’s a servant and he’s a captive You don’t just go and tell the King that conquered your country and dragged you all the way there as slaves, that you’d like to leave him, thanks, and go back and rebuild a wall
Sharon 21:17 Right? So he prayed about it and he did the deep kind of praying about it. But then he walked into the King’s presence with this cup that he always drank first for the king in case it was poisoned so he died and the king didn’t. It’s not a job I’d want.
Nicole I know, an interesting job.
Sharon So his face was sad and evidently that was against the law. Can you imagine? I know you had to be happy in the presence of the King. But the King liked Nehemiah. Nehemiah drank the cup every day. So he said, what’s troubling you? And in that moment, in that moment, Nehemiah prayed and you see it. He said, ‘I said a prayer to the Lord asking for help’ basically. Yeah. And then he spoke and there it is. There’s a prayer in the moment. There’s not the solemn, on your knees, holy moment. That’s the, Oh God, help me now, moment praying. And that’s the kind of ‘turn your worries into prayer moment’, you know. Right there in every situation.
Nicole Yeah. When you’re walking, when you’re sleeping, wherever, whenever it happens.
Sharon I mean if you’re in bed and you’re going around in circles, pray for an hour, it’s going to do a whole lot more good. Right? Also you’ll fall asleep. It’s amazing. And I love it. What better way to fall asleep then by talking to God? It’s beautiful.
Sharon 22:37 And then this last part, these last verses are advice on what to fill your mind with so that you’re not worried that there’s going to be an earthquake or we’re going to have World War III tomorrow. You know, just watching the news can create all kinds of things to focus on unduly. Should we watch the news and know what’s going on? Yes. Should we worry about it? No. That is constantly putting it in front of us. So it says this, finally brothers and sisters, and then it has this whole list of what’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. That’s where our thoughts ought to go. And so that’s a good kind of test. Am I going over and over again what that woman said to me that hurt my feelings? Well, Hm. Is that noble? Is that pure? Is that a lovely thing to go over and over in my mind?
Sharon 23:28 So probably not. Is that making me love her more? I don’t think so. So I can kind of gauge a lot of the thoughts that are in my head by asking is this admirable? Is this excellent? Is this some place where God would want my mind to dwell? That’s a really good test to run it through.
Sharon So then boy oh, boy Paul, I can’t say this yet. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice. That’s how I go and do it. Yeah, just do it. This is what I do, says Paul. Go and do it. Right. And then you get that reminder about peace again. And the God of peace will be with you. So, and worry is unpeace, isn’t it? It’s the opposite of peace. There’s no peace in worry. No. So he’s almost contrasting the two, you know, do you want to be this way or this way?
Sharon 24:17 And I choose peace. Please give me peace. I don’t need the worry. I have walked that path. It is not fun. No. And when, it starts up ever, I just go right to prayer because I don’t want it again. It’s awful. And again, it’s different from the physical manifestations of anxiety, but they are related because you can worry yourself into anxiety as well. Right? I mean, they’re not always out of the blue sometimes. So there’s a combination there, but he consoles us. He’s not mean to us. He’s kind. He’s so much kinder to me than I am to my children.
Nicole I feel that way too. He’s so much kinder than me too. He has so much patience with me. In our shortcomings. He really does. Yes.
Sharon So podcast listeners, do you worry, we want know, you probably do because you’re human.
Sharon 25:07 But our challenge to you this next week, just even try it for a week. Every time you worry, every time something comes into your head that’s going to stick there and make your heart beat a little faster and make you a little more depressed and do no good. Every time turn it to a prayer. It doesn’t have to be a complicated prayer. You do not have to sound profound. How about just, ‘ Lord, help me not to think about this’ or ‘Father help there not to be a World War III and if there is a World War III, help me to cope.’ Just little phrases that turn the focus from the panicky thing to the God who is in control. To the God who knows the beginning from the end and is sitting on his throne not worrying himself about life, but completely convinced that things are going to turn out okay.
Sharon 25:56 That’s what we do with worries, dear one. Let me pray for you. Heavenly Father, how I thank you that you are the sovereign God who does not worry, who has all things under your control. Father, forgive us when we borrow trouble and worry about things that haven’t even happened and rob ourselves of the joy that we could have in the present. Help us to turn our worries into prayers, Lord, to bring them to you and to leave them at your feet and then feel safe again. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Nicole Amen. Oh, Sharon, we’ve learned a lot today about turning our worries into prayers. Thank you for sharing. I’m definitely going to be trying that out this week. We’d love to hear from you listeners. How do you guard against worry and its way of spinning helpless circles in your brain? Stop on over to our podcast firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. Check out our chatter there and add a comment or two. Please follow us and encourage your friends to do the same. Let’s make Sweet Selah Moments a daily happening thing in our lives as we turn our worries into prayers. Tune in next time for episode six ‘Thirsting for the living God’.
Announcer 0 27:10 We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes, can be firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. Thank you for joining us.
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