Recently at our church we have been going through the epistle to the Philippians and this week we got to Chapter 4. The lady who read the scripture portion had a lovely clear voice and read it with real understanding, but, when she got to verse 7, it seemed to me that she said ‘guide your hearts’ instead of ‘guard your hearts’. Now I expect I misheard her, since I am a bit hard of hearing, but it started me thinking about how essential both guiding and guarding of our hearts are, when we are feeling anxious.
Its often in the small hours of the night that feelings of anxiety surface. It might be something specific, a work issue, financial concern, or a relationship challenge, or it might not be anything you can really identify. It’s just anxiety! Personally, I found that trying to pray directly about a worrying issue, although it was ‘making my request known to God’, as verse 6 tells us to do, tended to keep me thinking about the problem. My mind seemed to get caught in a loop! So, over time I developed another approach to dealing with anxious thoughts in the middle of the night.
It started one night when my mind seemed to be determined to focus on the irresolvable issue, although I was wanting to go back to sleep. I realised that taking hold of my thinking was going to require something more active. So, I re-focussed my mind on some words of Scripture. It was a bit of a battle especially when half asleep, but quite soon I realised that it really helped to quieten the turmoil.
On that occasion I used the first verse of Psalm 23; ‘the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want’, probably because it was one of the few verses I knew. The truth is it was an ideal scripture, perfect for reassurance, because He is sufficient to deal with and cover all we need, every situation, and every distressing issue is a concern to Him. This profound truth immediately ‘guided’ my mind in a more healthy direction and then I was able to allow His peace to flow in, which did start to ‘guard’ my heart from further anxiety, In this way I re-found the safe-haven of trust in God that seemed so easy in my waking hours, but was eluding me at 2 am.
So, if night-time anxieties are an occasional, or even a regular feature of your life, perhaps you should prepare ahead of time by finding a reassuring verse or two of Scripture. One you know well is best. Then, in those dark moments, this precious stored truth can be used to guide you to get rightful control over your runaway anxious mind. Scripture will re-focus you on our all-powerful, caring Father God, and this will start to bring calm into the turmoil of thoughts.
As you continue to focus on Him, the issue that is causing you to be anxious will seem less overwhelming and you can increasingly relax, trusting the issue into His hand. and letting Him guard your heart … so you can return to a peaceful sleep.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You are with me and care for me in the moments when anxiety tries to attack me. Thank You that You are my Shepherd, and when I focus on You, I can resist the thoughts that seem to overwhelm me because of unresolved issues. Help me to take my anxious thoughts captive and in those moments to re-focus my mind and heart on You, allowing You to take sovereignty over me and what is troubling me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.