Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why Pray When You Can Worry?

We live in times when apprehension is in the air.  The direction of our country, high unemployment, the state of our economy, the mortgage meltdown, the volatility of the stock market and whether we will have enough income to sustain us through our retirement years all cause us concern.  Added to these are concerns about the global economy, turmoil in the Middle East and global terrorism.  As parents, we are concerned about our children.  Will they turn out ok, will they be successful in life, and will they continue to follow God, etc?  In our present job market, those with jobs wonder if they might lose their jobs, and those without wonder will they ever obtain one again.  It seems that we live in a fragile world.  It is no wonder that people living in today’s world are apprehensive.
            We face the danger at such times that our concerns will be transformed into worry.  There is a vast difference between the two, especially from a spiritual dimension.  Concern leads us to call out to God, believing that he is in control and is directing the purpose of the world for his own glory and purpose.  It leads us to prayer.  Worry implies that he is an impotent God, unable to control the human events that we see marching across the panorama of the world’s stage.  It takes us away from prayer.  Concern leads us to faith, worry to doubt.  A chapel talk I once heard, titled “Why pray when you can worry?” dealt with this issue. 
            Excessive worry is dysfunctional as it can become an anxiety disorder where a person’s fears become crippling.  Both imply a total lack of faith in God.  Without faith, prayer becomes futile, as though merely talking to a blank wall.  Why go thought the motion of attempting to talk to a God who is powerless?  Active prayer requires an active faith in an active God.  The Apostle Paul deals with this in his letter to the church at Philippi which was experiencing suffering for the sake of the gospel.  He tells them that prayer will lead to a peace that, though difficult to understand, is the opposite of anxiety.
            Reading through the Psalms and Old Testament prophets points out that they had many concerns that they wrestled and struggled with.  Despite the deplorable situations they experienced and wrote about, things we could hardly even imagine ever happening to us, they never lost faith.  Their concerns and heart felt angst were genuine.  Even when questioning God, their faith that he was in control seldom wavered.  Even when not understanding him, they still confidently followed him. 
At issue is our view of God.  Is he big enough to be able to control the outcome of events or are we left on our own to struggle along as best we can.  Worry implies that he is not.  We then live by the rule of “Que Sera Sera. Whatever will be, will be.  The future’s not ours to see. Que Sera Sera.”   The hopelessness and despair found in worry are faith killers.  They rob us of our intimate relationship with God.  Bit by bit our trust in him is diminished until we no longer believe in his capabilities.  Our claims of faith are belied by our actions.  While from time to time we all worry, it is its continual pattern that is most destructive to our life of faith.  In the times we do worry it is worthwhile examining our prayer life.  Are we going to God with our concerns, confident in him, or are we paralyzed with fear? 

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