PRAY NOW, WORRY LATER

Have you ever worried about anything?

Of course you have!! Crazy question, right? Worry is something that everyone battles with.

It’s like the story about the woman who was always worrying.
Finally, her exasperated husband asked his wife, “Why are you always worrying when it doesn’t do any good?”
She quickly piped back, “Oh yes it does! Ninety percent of the things I worry about never happen.”

Well, you may have chuckled at that story, but I think the number is actually much higher.

I read an article somewhere that assigned percentages to the things most folk worry about.

THINGS WE WORRY ABOUT:
40% – about things that will never happen (which is totally wasted)
30% – about things in the past (which can never be changed)
12% – about criticism by others (which cannot be stopped)
10% – about health (which gets worse with stress)
6% – about problems someone else is facing (which are not your responsibility)
2% – about real problems that will be faced

Well, there’s a much better approach to dealing with the challenges of life. And it’s not only better because it reduces the level of stress in your life; it is better because it WORKS !! It actually has the capacity to change the outcome of the situations we face.

Today’s verse tells us:
DON’T WORRY ABOUT TOMORROW, FOR TOMORROW WILL BRING ITS OWN WORRIES.
TODAY’S TROUBLE IS ENOUGH FOR TODAY.

Let’s break this down into smaller chunks, shall we?

DON’T WORRY ABOUT TOMORROW

Perhaps the first reason not to worry about tomorrow is that worry never changes tomorrow, it only robs joy and peace from today. When those get taken from today, it will impact our ability to face tomorrow. Faith, deciding to deliberately trust that God cares and will be faithful to His word, adds to our strength. Faith is like a muscle; as we exercise it, it becomes larger, stronger and capable of lifting more. Fear, doubt and worry will cause your faith muscle to atrophy and grow weaker. Faith builds up, fear tears down.

Another reason not to worry about tomorrow is the number of tomorrows we have to worry about!!! Because in the realm of worry, “tomorrow” is not just the day that comes after today, but it is all of the days that are coming. And no one can handle that.

Imagine a large stack of 365 concrete blocks piled up in your garage on a pallet. Suppose you wanted to move them outside to build something behind your house. No one is strong enough to lift the pallet up and carry it to the new location in the back yard. But by grabbing them one at a time, you can move them much more easily.

We have strength today to lift today’s block. It is manageable. But we do not have the strength to lift a year’s worth of blocks. No one is capable of doing that. Even the strongest person will be crushed by that load. One day at a time. Don’t worry about all the other blocks on the pallet, just today’s block.

I’ve seen some amazing mosaics in my travels. As one enters the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem one of the first things that attracts your attention is a massive mosaic depicting the death, preparation for burial, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It’s detail is stunning, and its beauty magnificent. One of the things I find mot marvelous is that it is made up of tiny ceramic tiles smaller than a fingernail. The story is told of a man visiting a city who came upon an artist in a church who had just begun a massive mosaic like this one. The traveler found an artist kneeling before an enormous wall, all but bare with only a few hundred tiny ceramic tiles in place. Arranged on tables nearby were thousands and thousands of pieces of colored ceramic.

Curious, the visitor asked the artist how he would ever finish such an enormous project. The artist replied that he knew how much he could accomplish in one day. So each morning he began by marking off the area to be completed that day, and he focused all of his attention and skill there. He didn’t worry about what remained outside that space. He said, “I’ve learned that the best approach is to be faithful to give today’s task my complete focus. If I am faithful to give today my best, day after day; one day the mosaic will be finished.”

DON’T WORRY ABOUT TOMORROW, FOR TOMORROW WILL BRING ITS OWN WORRIES.
TODAY’S TROUBLE IS ENOUGH FOR TODAY.

So let’s turn our attention to the second part of the verse.

TODAY’S TROUBLE IS ENOUGH FOR TODAY.

How do we deal with today?

Well, the first thing I’d like to point out is that God doesn’t tell us to worry about it! He didn’t say “Don’t worry about tomorrow, worry about today.” He said that today would have plenty of trouble to keep us busy. So the question is this: Busy doing WHAT?

The answer is that we are to PRAY. P-R-A-Y. We need to do four things. (A note to folks reading this in a non-English language – The next steps each begin with a letter in the acronym formed by the English word “pray.”)

The P is for PRAYER.

I said earlier that worry never changes tomorrow, only today. When most people worry, they want to talk with somebody. I suggest that the best person you can talk to when you’re worried about something is God. He has the capacity to change the outcome of the issue and to change your approach to dealing with it. And He can do it even when you can’t see where you’re going and can’t see the obstructions in your way.

We are not to be anxious about anything, God says. He tells us that in everything, by prayer and requests made with thanksgiving, we are to let your requests be made known to Him. He doesn’t tell us to pray because He needs to hear about the situation. Our prayers never make God think, “Oh my, I didn’t know that!” God knows that when most people worry, they want to talk with somebody. He built us to be relational; moreover, He built us to relate to Him. He instructs us to pray so that it strengthens both our relationship and our faith. When we pray, God instructs us about how we are to proceed.

A recently licensed instrument pilot was flying his private plane on a cloudy day. He was not very experienced in instrument landing. When the control tower was to bring him in, he began to get panicky and told the air traffic controller he was concerned about possible obstructions ahead on his approach. Then a stern voice came over the radio, “You just obey instructions, we’ll take care of the obstructions.”

When WE obey His instructions, God takes care of the obstructions. He can move mountains, if He has to.

The R is for RELEASE

Once we have prayed and given our concerns to God. We need to release them. LEAVE THEM with Him and focus upon what He has told us to do. Nothing more and nothing less. Let His Spirit guide you.

Don’t keep taking back the things you’ve given Him to deal with. They can be in His hands or yours, but not both. A car has one steering wheel for a reason. Don’t keep grabbing at the wheel and taking control. Let God set the direction and the speed. Trust Him to bring you where He wants you to be.

The A is for ACCEPT

God’s word tells us that, when we choose not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We need to accept the PEACE that He gives us and hold onto it by faith. The fact of the matter is that you cannot hold onto both FEAR and PEACE at the same time. You’ll need to release the one to grasp the other. But God knows that you’ll accomplish more by standing in faith and holding onto His peace, so He gives it to you. Choose wisely what you wish to hold onto.

Some will argue that it makes no sense, walking in peace when the situation hasn’t yet changed. True enough, but His peace PASSES understanding. Even when we don’t understand how God will deal with the issues we’ve given Him, He causes His peace to get out in front of our understanding and lead the way.

The Y is for YELL

When God’s answer comes – SHOUT JOYFULLY TO THE LORD! Let the whole world know that we serve a God in heaven who cares for us and our needs.

Okay, I confess that today’s title – Pray Now, Worry Later – was wrong. We never have to worry later, because God tells us to focus only on today. Today is the day we P-R-A-Y.

Pray, then obey.

You just obey instructions, He’ll take care of the obstructions.

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