• Chrissie Angell

A Formula for Overcoming Worry

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

When my alarm went off, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I struggled to get out of bed, dreading the day before me. I had tossed and turned all night long, worst-case scenarios playing out as thoughts ran wild through my mind.

As I made my coffee, I felt the sum of all my worries weighing heavily on my heart. I knew I needed to stop worrying. I knew fretting wasn’t going to fix the situation. But somehow, holding onto those thoughts made me feel like I had a modicum of control.

There are so many things that cause us to worry, things that weigh heavily on our hearts and minds. Worry over our kids. Concern over a loved one who is sick. Anxiety over someone who is lost. Apprehension about a disagreement with our spouse. Fear over finances. Unease over the future. The list goes on and on.

Worry is overwhelming. It wants to consume our thoughts. It attempts to control us.

Yet, Scripture tells us we can’t add even an hour to our life by worrying. (Matthew 6:27) So, what are we to do when anxiety threatens to consume us?

After spending the better part of my morning allowing uncontrolled thoughts to torment my mind, my anxiety skyrocketing, I knew I needed to refocus. But how? I turned in my Bible to a familiar passage on the subject, hoping to find some peace, and discovered a formula to help overcome worry.

R1 + R2 + R3 = P.

Now, I’m not a mathematician, so don’t analyze the “math” too closely. But, if you hang with me for a few minutes, you’ll see this is a simple formula that, with practice, can teach us how to overcome worry!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4,6,7

R1 = Rejoice

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

Whenever something is repeated in the Bible, it’s an excellent clue to listen up and take note. Here we’re clearly told to rejoice in the Lord all of the time, no matter the circumstance. If you’re anything like me, that can be challenging, especially in the middle of a trial.

To be honest, sometimes, I need help rejoicing. When my mind is racing with worry, I can’t always come up with something to rejoice over right away, if at all. When that happens, I turn to the book of Psalms and find a prayer to recite to the Lord. Psalm 8 is one of my favorites when I’m fretful because it speaks to God’s power and majesty and His mindfulness of us. As I begin to rejoice over who He is, I begin to gain perspective of how small my problems are in His hands.

R2 = Request

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

In this verse, we’re told not to worry about anything. Yet, the very need to tell us not to worry implies it will be a struggle in life. But God, in His divine wisdom and mercy, provided a plan for what to do when anxiety begins. When fear begins to rise, we must present our concerns to God.

This isn't a half-hearted, flippant request, but a thoughtful petition. We need to identify the source of our concern and then ask Him to handle the situation for us. Doing this helps us release control of the problem and remember that He is God, and we are not. This action demonstrates that we know His understanding of the big picture is greater than ours, giving us the right perspective of Him.

R3 = Remember

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Next, we learn we are to petition God with thanksgiving.

How can we pray with thanksgiving when we’re anxious? That is so hard! In the moment, I often struggle to find a reason to be thankful. However, with a little thought, I can remember something from the past. Specifically, I work to recall a time when God showed up and thank Him for that. If my mind is too clouded by emotion to remember a personal experience right away, I practice the same thing I do for R1 (Rejoice) and look to Scripture for an example of when God worked powerfully. Then, I thank Him for that. Remembering what God is capable of eases the fear of uncertainty in the current situation.

If we want freedom from worry, we must exercise thankfulness as we petition the Lord. Rejoicing over who God is and remembering how He has come through in the past shifts our focus to Him. When we focus on Him instead of our troubles, we see that our problems are small in His trustworthy hands.

R1 + R2 + R3 is a simple strategy but not an easy one to fulfill. Praying in this way is an exercise of our faith and belief that God is always good. It takes practice and hard work. It’s something we have to learn to do, a discipline that requires training.

Is it worth the effort? Yes! Because doing so comes with a promise!

P = Peace

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

When we take this approach during times of trial, we find peace. That doesn’t mean everything will work out and go the way we envision. We aren't guaranteed a pain-free life. Not at all. But when we approach God this way, we are promised His peace, a peace that surpasses our knowledge, guarding our hearts and minds. Peace is a gift from the Father.

That morning, as I struggled to stay awake after a sleepless night of worry, I practiced R1 + R2 + R3, rejoicing through a favorite Psalm, thoughtfully making my request known to God, and thanking Him for specific ways I remembered He has shown up in the past. As I did, my perspective shifted to His goodness, and my attitude changed. Suddenly, I felt a little lighter, and a familiar peace began to replace the anxiety. My problem didn’t vanish, but it didn’t control me either because I remembered who my God is and what He is capable of doing!

Friend, I don’t know what life is throwing at you today. I don’t know what heartaches or trials may be keeping you awake in the middle of the night. I don’t have answers to solve your troubles.

But the Lord promises that if you practice rejoicing, requesting, and remembering, He will give you peace and protect your heart and mind from the worry that threatens to consume you.

Let’s practice:

(R1) Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. (R2) Sovereign Father, we ask you to ease our worry. We place all of our concerns and fears at your feet, trusting that you know what is best, acknowledging that you are good. Specifically, we ask for your help with ______________. (R3) Mighty God, you rescued Israel from their oppressors in Egypt. You proved the would-be Egyptian gods to be false with each plague. You parted the sea until every Israelite foot had passed on dry ground, closing it up to swallow their pursuers. You are God! Nothing is too big for you. Thank you for always showing up! (P) As we lay our burdens down, cover us with your peace that surpasses all understanding. Guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Do you know someone who also struggles with anxiety? Feel free to share this blog with them so they can discover the peace God has to offer! We’ll also be sharing more resources to help overcome anxiety throughout the week on our Joy in Faithful Living Facebook page. We hope you’ll join us as we work on this together!

Additional references:

Matthew 6:27 (ESV) “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Psalm 8

1O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b] and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!


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