[Editor’s Note: I received a copy of Joyce Meyer’s new book, Worry Free Living: Trading Anxiety for Peace to read and select an excerpt from! I have to say, this was a very relevant book for me and I loved it! I always love Joyce, but man this spoke to me. I really, really enjoyed it and I’ve been referring back to it already. Here’s an excerpt from a later chapter. It was hard to choose, but this was my favorite. Joyce just really makes a lot of sense in this chapter! I hope you’re encouraged!]
Prayer Produces Peace, Rest, Patience, and Hope
Several times in this book I have mentioned the importance of casting our care upon the Lord (1 Pet. 5:7). When we hold on to the stress and cares of our lives, we end up anxious and upset. But when we let them go and allow God to take care of them, we can enter into peace.
Practically speaking, though, how do we cast our care upon the Lord? We do it through prayer.
In Philippians 4:6–7, the apostle Paul does not say, “Pray and then worry.” He says, “Pray and don’t worry.” This is the same thing as releasing our cares to the Lord. When we do that, we end up with many blessings, including peace, rest, patience, and hope.
Prayer Produces Peace
When the enemy tries to put burdens of care on us, we are supposed to turn and give that care to God. That’s a big part of what prayer is—acknowledging to the Lord that we cannot carry our burden of care, and giving it all to Him. If we pray about something and then keep on worrying about it, we are mixing a positive and a negative. The two cancel out each other, so we do not end up with the benefit we hope for.
Prayer is a positive force; worry is a negative force. I believe one reason some people operate with less power in their spiritual lives than they could have is that they cancel out their positive prayer power by giving in to the negative power of worry. Too often we pray and make positive confessions for a while, then begin to worry about a situation and make negative confessions for a while. We go back and forth between the two extremes.
As long as we pray and worry, we are not trusting God completely. When we pray according to His will, we need to have faith and confidence that God hears us (1 John 5:14). This kind of prayer produces peace and also leads us into rest, patience, and hope.
Prayer Produces Rest
Hebrews 4:3 says, “For we who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest. . .” Continuing the theme of rest, Hebrews 4:9 says, “So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God.” The next verse goes on to say that those who have entered into God’s rest have “ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors.”
We know from Hebrews 4 that God definitely makes rest available to us. If we are not at rest, we are not truly believing Him because verse 3 clearly teaches us that the fruit of believing is rest. The kind of believing that allows us to enter into the rest of God is simple childlike faith.
A child’s faith is pure and simple. When faced with a dilemma, children quickly go to their parents. They do not try to figure everything out and make detailed blueprints about how they will solve their problems. They simply believe their parents will take care of them.
For many years in my life, I claimed to be believing in God and trusting in Him. But I was not doing either of those things. I did not know the first thing about believing God or trusting in Him. All I did was say my prayers, then worry and fret, speak negatively about my circumstances, and try to figure out everything on my own. I was anxious, panicky, irritable, and on edge constantly. Yet I said I was believing in, and trusting, God.
As believers, our rest and peace are not based on doing or achieving, but on believing in faith that God will take care of everything that concerns us. If we are really believing and trusting the Lord, we will enter into His rest. We will pray in faith and cast our cares on Him; then we will sense the perfect peace of His Presence. Part of faith is also being willing to do whatever the Lord might ask us to do, but the rest He offers us is a rest in work, not from work.
Prayer Produces Patience and Hope
Romans 5:3–4 says:
Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
To say to someone, or even to ourselves, “Don’t worry” is easy to do. But to actually not worry requires spiritual maturity that comes from experience with God. The more we experience the faithfulness of God, the easier it is not to worry. I also believe we must realize how useless worry is in order to give it up. Worry accomplishes nothing positive in our lives. It changes nothing for the better.
This is why continuing to have faith and trust in God, and not worrying in the midst of trials and tribulations, is vital. In hard, trying times the Lord is building in us the patience, endurance, and character that will eventually produce the habit of joyful and confident hope.
When you and I are in the midst of a spiritual battle against our enemy, every round we go through produces valuable experience and strength. Each time we resist a temptation or endure an attack, we become stronger. If we are patient through the trial and refuse to give up, sooner or later we will gain victory in the situation and enjoy increased patience, hope, and spiritual maturity in our lives. God always gives us the victory if we remain steadfast and refuse to give up.