10/9/05, P 21 A

Philippians 4: 1-9

y Daddy had a church member who worried about everything and prayed about nothing. He once said, "Preacher it does help to worry because nothing I ever worry about ever happens." Daddy also said that the worst thing you could say to a worrywart was for them not to worry because they would then worry about worrying. Paul shares with the Philippians a great secret of Christian Joy:

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything." (v. 6, NLT)

Paul must have known that there were some worrying kind of folks at First Church Philippi, or he would not have instructed them to not worry. He may have meant for them not to worry too much because it is natural to worry some. Sometimes we need to worry; or at least be concerned about certain things. Most of us need to worry more about our health and that would encourage us to have that annual wellness exam. Some of us can attest that a simple annual physical examination has saved our lives, or at least saved us from far more serious problems. If we weren't concerned, a little bit worried, we probably would have skipped that checkup.

What Paul may mean is that as we worry just a little bit, we need to pray more, and the prayer will overwhelm the worry.

Indeed, we need to pray about every little thing that bothers us. We pray for God to help us, and we allow the act of praying itself to help us think things through. The act of praying itself has tremendous therapeutic value. As children of God we are able to lay all of our burdens down at His feet. Therefore, at the very least, we have to spell out our problems as we see them, name the persons and things that we are concerned about, acknowledge our sins, shortcomings, and disappointments, and catalog all of the things that we are thankful for.

When we save our “thankfulnesses” for the end of our personal prayers, we are more likely to realize that we have far more to be thankful for than we have situations/concerns to worry about.

However, if we care for our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors, we will always have someone near and dear to us that needs our prayers and concerns. We have many occasions to visit around the bedsides of those who have helped to form our lives. Naturally, we have worried about them. It is as if we think that dear ones will live forever. The great solace that we have found has been prayer. When we talk to our Heavenly Father about our concerns and worries we somehow always feel that we have placed our burdens there at His feet. Those cares of life are His whenever we turn them over to God; and thus, we can let them go. Yet, sometimes we want to cling to our burdens and we even refuse to allow God to enable us to turn them over to Him. That is when we are bordering on becoming a “Worrywart.”

“Worrywart” is a great old word in our language. It is therapeutic in that it warns us of the boundaries between natural concerns and obsessive compulsions; to hang on to what we colloquially refer to as “A Heap of Worries.”

I hope none of us are troublesome worrywarts or the kind of bothersome person who is nearly always upset about something. It was “Chicken Little” in the children’s book that was always running around crying that the sky is falling? That qualifies as having become a false prophet of misfortune who frets excessively over needless things.  

Lots of children have learned not to be worrywarts from the story of “Chicken Little” who was walking in the woods and an acorn fell on his head so he jumped to the illogical conclusion that “The sky is falling!” What’s more, he also convinced Henny Penny and Cocky Locky to join in his worrywart party about the false assumption that the sky was falling. Then they met Foxy Woxy who slyly invited them into the safety of his den. They almost entered but the king’s hunting hounds came and chased the sly fox away. After that Chicken Little always carried an umbrella when he walked in the woods.

Note that Chicken Little did not overcome his neurotic behavior of worrywarting, but we can. Unlike the little chick, we have the capacity to turn to God in times of trouble, or times when we think there is trouble, and we will find that God will take responsibility for all of our cares. God, you see, is bigger than we and He can make everything seem all right, in light of that place called Glory.

The only thing that can save a worrywart is learning to pray; not memorized simple stock prayers and not quickie instructions to God kind of prayers. Of course, “God hears and answers every prayer, but sometimes He must get tired of our whining lame prayers.

Our text goes on to say: “Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (v. 6-7, NLT)

Lastly, don’t worry if you are a certified worrywart and you do not think you can begin to look on the sunny side of life. God does not expect you to break such a gossiping, negative, sinful habit cold turkey: He offers to come along beside us and teach us to pray.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
10/9/05, P 21 A