“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6).
As a worrier, I find this instruction written by Saint Paul to the Christians in Philippi to be one of my most difficult spiritual challenges. Aware that worry is disobedient to God’s Word, instead of worrying, I just get concerned 😉 Of course, the problem with this explanation is that “concern” means something very akin to “worry.”
The Greek word for “worry” used by St. Paul in this scripture verse is best translated “to be divided or distracted.” The idea is that we find our thoughts pulled away from what they should be focused. Rather than spending time in prayer, spiritual reading, or positive conversation, we are easily distracted by such things as watching the news for countless hours or fretting and debating politics.
I’m not suggesting that staying informed is wrong… unless it gets out of balance and becomes an obsession. In fact, we should be aware of current events (for which to pray), but we must be careful to not allow the negativity around us to weigh down our spirits to worry and despondency.
What should be our focus? The answer is in the latter half of the verse cited above.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Instead of worrying, we are instructed to turn our concerns over to God in prayer and thankfulness. If we do this, the promised result is wonderful peace. When stressed and worried, I find calm in repeating to myself the comforting words of Saint Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and every manner of thing shall be well.”