Summary: Thankful prayer brings divine peace, guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and brings right thinking…biblical thinking.
Fear is a human emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat. Fear is a basic survival mechanism that signals our bodies to respond to danger with a fight or flight response. As such, it is an essential part of keeping us safe. However, when people live in constant fear, whether from physical dangers in their environment or threats they perceive, they can become incapacitated.
Fear prepares us to react to danger. Once we sense a potential danger, our body releases hormones that:
- Slow or shut down functions not needed for survival (such as our digestive system).
- Sharpen functions that might help us survive (such as eyesight). Our heart rate increases, and blood flows to muscles so we can run faster.
- Our body also increases the flow of hormones to an area of the brain known as the amygdala to help us focus on the presenting danger and store it in our memory.
Living under constant fear has serious health consequences.
- Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated ageing and even premature death.
- Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain. This can make it even more difficult to regulate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and their memories confirm that.
- Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately.
Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Zach Williams Lyrics
"Fear Is A Liar"
When he told you you're not good enough
When he told you you're not right
When he told you you're not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you're not worthy
When he told you you're not loved
When he told you you're not beautiful
That you'll never be enough
Fear he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
Cause fear he is a liar
Please turn in your Bible to Philippians 4:5b-8
5 The Lord is near. 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.
Paul is in prison in Rome facing trial, not knowing if he will live or die. The Philippian church is under great persecution from the culture, are dealing with false teachers and with internal conflict in the church. Times are difficult, yet Paul tells the church “Do not be anxious about anything…” In other words, Don’t Fear!
Much like Paul’s time, we find ourselves surrounded by those who hate and despise Christianity. We are considered “intolerant” and even bigots when we stand up for what the Bible says. Today, our culture accepts just about anything except the God of the Bible and His absolute truths. At the same time, there is more and more violence directed towards our schools and our churches. I thought it was sad when we had to start locking up the church because thieves would steal our sound equipment. Now, churches fear someone coming in during a prayer meeting or worship service and shoot up the place. If we cannot feel safe at church, where can we feel safe?
1 Peter 5:7 says to, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”
Regardless of our situation, we should never fear because God is near. Instead, pray with thanksgiving about every situation.
I. Thankful prayer brings divine peace
Verse 7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding… The peace that comes from praying (rather than fearing) is of divine origin.
Unfortunately, when they face trials, believers often seem to forget what they know about God. They lose their confident trust in Him, lose their self-control and spiritual stability, and are defeated. People become worried, anxious, and fearful because they do not trust in God's wisdom, power, or goodness. They fear that God is not wise enough, strong enough, or good enough to prevent disaster. It may be that this sinful doubt is because their knowledge of Him is faulty, or that sin in their lives has crippled their faith. Thankful prayer brings release from fear and worry, because it affirms God's sovereign control over every circumstance, and that His purpose is the believer's good (MacArthur, 283).