Sweet sisters and friends,
Another holiday season is upon us and with it comes all of the “stuff.” So much is good and fun – traditions, adventures, moments, memories, but inevitably, the hustle and bustle come along too. No matter how much shopping we do online or how many plans we make to do it “different” this year, at some point over the next few weeks, we are going to find ourselves frazzled, tired, irritated or overwhelmed.
This season, Cultivate wants to give you a place to breathe—a sacred space to slow down, remember and ponder the beauty of the One who came to us…our Prince of Peace.
What does it look like for you to Cultivate Peace this Christmas season?
Each Friday, we hope you will join us here for a simple journey to explore “peace” and the deep, rich meanings it holds throughout the pages of scripture. Whether you join us on your own or grab some friends and cultivate community while you learn, know that each contributor to this series has prayed for you and wants you to become more like Jesus as we celebrate His birth. Merry Christmas, friends!
With love and peace,
— Cultivate Peace Through Prayer —
One of my favorite things to do as a kid, even with my own kids, was play with Play-Doh. First, that smell. Am I the only one who might have had a sniffing addiction? There was something about a brand new container of Play-Doh—untouched, no colors jumbled, a perfect blob of potential. My mind would race with all of the things it could be. I felt so powerful taking that blob into my hands and shaping it into whatever I wanted.
I was in love with the pliability and moldability of Play-Doh and the control I had over my creation.
Control. I like control. A lot. I don’t like feeling like things are out of my control…even though most often they are. This desire for control has led to a lifetime struggle with anxiety. It is something I struggle with every day.
There have been days when my anxiety has made me physically ill. Other days, it just makes me sad. Most regrettably, on my worst days it makes me angry, and I take that anger out on the ones I love the most.
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Philippians 4:6-7 MSG
Over and over again I have read these verses. I’ve memorized them and written them on Post-it notes to remind myself of what is true. But, it wasn’t until just this week that I saw something in this verse I had never seen before.
“Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers…”
In the same childlike way I shaped and reshaped my Play-Doh, as a child of God, I possess the ability to reform and reshape my thoughts—my anxious thoughts—and transform them into prayers.
How can I shape my worries into prayers?
By telling God what is on my heart.
By thanking God for hearing me.
By praising God for understanding and loving me.
This sounds so trite, and frankly, elementary. But trust me…this is revolutionary!
Here’s what I do: As my mind begins to travel down the all-familiar anxious path (which for me usually involves “awfulizing” any situation I am thinking about), I take that thought and immediately pray about it. I tell God my fear and my desire. But, I don’t stop there. As I pray, I begin concentrating solely on who He is: His goodness, His love, His presence, His mercy. Just Him. Then, He floods my heart and soul with His most reassuring peace.
Here’s what I’m learning: This process is transforming my prayer life with Jesus. Just think about how often you worry! Imagine turning—shaping—each of those worrisome thoughts into prayers.
Peace is Possible when Prayer is the Priority!
Friends, there is just no way around this. What these verses make abundantly clear is that the peace that surpasses our human understanding comes as a result of our constant and faithful prayers.
Here’s the best part: As we pray, we go deeper with God. We know Him. We experience Him. We trust Him.
The MORE we know Him, the MORE we trust Him—with our hopes, our dreams, our relationships, our health, our emotions—EVERYTHING! We trust God because He is trustworthy, because He is good.
My encouragement to you is to start right where you are. The next time an anxious thought comes into your mind, grab it and turn it into a prayer. Thank God for who He is and begin to walk in freedom.
I am on this journey with you, friend. It is a daily discipline, sometimes even a moment by moment discipline. What I am most grateful for is that Jesus never loses patience with me in the struggle. He is ever merciful, kind and gracious, loving me right where I am and committed to taking me even further in my relationship with Him. THAT is worth everything to me.
Praying for each of you on this pursuit to cultivate peace,
LET’S DIG DEEPER:
- Do you struggle with anxiety? What does that look like for you?
- Most of us have issues with control. Is being in control or having control something you struggle with? How?
- How would you describe your prayer life? How could you make this more of a priority in your life?
- Write out Philippians 4:6-7 and keep them in a place where you can see them. This week, commit to reading and re-reading them so that these truths are sealed on your heart.
Melody Workman is the Cultivate Lead at Sandals Church. She is married to Adam, the Discipleship Pastor at Sandals Church, and together they have 3 children – Elijah (13), Mehretab (11), and Addison (10). Melody is passionate about teaching and leading women into real relationship with Jesus. When she isn’t busy with ministry and family, Melody loves time at the beach, a massage, and good food. After living on the east coast her entire life and hating winter, she has fully embraced becoming a California girl.
Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.