6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Last fall, during a series on prayer, we looked at the distinction between worry and prayer. I shared these two lists as a way of thinking about what each of these practices cultivates in our life.
First, think about the fruit of worry. What does worry produce?
Worry focuses us on a negative thought or circumstances.
Worry isolates and increases fear.
Worry encourages our need to control outcomes.
Worry nurtures self-centeredness.
Worry shrinks our vision.
And now, contrast these with the fruits that grow from a consistent life of prayer.
Prayer focuses us on a BIG ENOUGH God.
Prayer connects and nurtures love.
Prayer encourages release and trust in God.
Prayer nurtures selflessness
Prayer expands our vision.
Today, I want to encourage you to continue what we started in yesterday’s reading. I encouraged you to name your blessings and shared these instructions for that practice which James Bryan Smith offers in his book The Good and Beautiful God.
Make a list of all of the things God has blessed you with, all of the things that make life wonderful. Pay attention to the details of your life. Look for the hidden things. Take notice of all of those wonderful things you easily overlook. Start small: try to come up with a list of ten things God has blessed you with.
Remember our challenge for the week… to name 50 blessings by the time we bring this week to a close.
As you name those today, keep in mind that this is, within itself, an act of prayer. It is a way of focusing us on a BIG ENOUGH God, of releasing fear, trusting God, moving beyond ourselves and expanding our vision.
So, take a minute and continue praying through the blessings you want to name this day.
As I shared yesterday, this week I want to encourage you to pray through Psalm 103 as your opening prayer. Remember, this practice is exactly as it is described - simply reading through the Psalm as your prayer for the day. Try reading it through slowly and out loud. As you allow the meaning of the message to find its way into your heart and life today.
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.