Songs of Ascent: Day

Prayer and petition

by

Today's Text: Psalm 123; Philippians 4:4-9

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” ― Erma Bombeck

I’ve been reminded of this saying so often in my life I must mumble it in my sleep. Worry – the all consuming, life changing, body morphing, confidence destroying part of our thoughts that causes absolutely nothing to change. At all.

Yet there it is. I’ve struggled with it in my life, only to look back and think, “What was I worried about…?” Even things that I worried on that did happened ended up out of my control anyway.

In Philippians, Paul encourages us not to “worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT) And knowing that God is omniscient (all-knowing), I can’t help but wonder why we bother to pray at all. If God knows the outcome of our lives, the choices we make, the path we will wander down – what good does prayer do?

First and foremost, prayer directs our thoughts to heaven, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. We see Jesus in the Gospels pray and the only reason that explains why he must is that he needed to direct his thoughts from earth to heaven. We see Paul commend us to do this in Colossians 3:2.

Prayer causes us to humble ourselves. We begin to find the things we think we have control of, or perhaps will have control of if we worry enough, are completely in God’s hands. That we are His children, therefore we are also in His perfect timing and will.

Prayer reminds us to give thanks. We are so busy dwelling on what we don’t have, what we still need, what has gone wrong, that the many blessings poured on us are often lost. Coming to God in prayer gives us a chance to simply breathe a “Thank you.”

Perhaps a little known part of prayer is the way it can change the constant onslaught of positive thinking we hear time and time again to perspective thinking. Positive thinking too often focuses on us; on our ability to change our thought process to an ideal or outcome we would like to have. It can act as a buffer in facing reality. Perspective thinking takes that focus to Jesus, letting His Word be our mind’s guide. Prayer focuses us again on how any situation, any outcome can be used for the glory of God. Not only the ones we wanted or think equaled happiness.

So while prayer isn’t a way to get what you want, or to become a more “positive” thinker, it’s part of our journey as Christians to draw closer to our Savior. It lets us have that time with Him and start to let go of our worries and begin to pray. Each time a fearful thought enters our minds.

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  • Cthecker

    I loved this devotional this morning. As an artist, I know the importance of perspective and what it does to an image when the perspective is off. It is such a good way for me to apply the biblical admonition against worrying. There is an application for me whether I am looking from the wrong perspective or have drawn my image in the wrong perspective. In my life, am I looking at my circumstance from the wrong perspective or am I drawing my response to my circumstances in the wrong perspective? How do I know the correct perspective? Am I seeing with my eyes or His eyes?
    I can go further in these thoughts and ponder His image which is throughout my life to be in the process of changing my perspective so that I am becoming more and more like my creator every day…that one day I am complete in His image.

  • Nancy Davis

    Good message today. I loved the perspective of prayer Not being positive thinking. I needed to be reminded of not worrying but praying and trusting.

  • Ellen MR

    Thank you Sue for your powerful prayer! You don’t know how much I appreciate your words, and this morning I DO feel much more positive and protected! Better perspective too! :) PTL!!
    Emily P- I will take all the suggestions you have! I will look into the diet aspect, I’ve heard more and more about it. There must be something to it, huh?
    It would help my diabetes too, I’m sure.
    Thanks Em! ;)

  • Victoria

    As someone who takes pride in how positively I think, this was hard to read today. Not quite sure how I feel about it let, going to pray about it before I go to bed. But the part about perspective thinking, I love. I'll pray for God's perspective tonight.

  • Positive thinking is a great way to start each day, uplifting Happy Music is a great way to keep your mind focused on good, holy, happy, positive things! So I guess whistle while you work is a very good concept! :)

  • Jill in FL

    I loved today's devotion. I love the thoughts on prayer, and the contrast between positive thinking and perspective thinking. Lots of stuff to think about.

  • Positive thinking too often focuses on us; on our ability to change our thought process to an ideal or outcome we would like to have. It can act as a buffer in facing reality
    WOW! I never really thought of it that way at all. Such a wake call. God is truely the only one who helps us and turns the bad or negative into a postive. Usually because we are learning a lesson or growing closer to him. Thank you again for a great devotional today.

  • Lauren L.

    I am continually amazed, each day of a new devotional, at God's perfect, perfect timing. I feel, as I'm sure almost everyone else does, that each post and scripture reading is directly speaking to them. I lay in bed last night, unable to fall asleep, wondering why we pray. God has a plan, he knows each decision and consequence for each of us, so why am I praying for something so specific. I then feel a tinge of guilt, thinking that if what I am praying for is in fact not God's will or in his plan, I'm being selfish. I'm encouraged today, as I read that prayer is directly our thoughts (and hearts) towards heaven. Good timing, Lord.

    I have been filled with more worry/anxiety in the last ~2 weeks than I can ever remember in my life, as I am preparing to take the biggest test of my life (my board exams). As I (daily) have to surrender that anxiety to God, I fill relief and at peace for a short while before the anxiety rushed back, just as Casey mentioned. So, again, with Phillipians 4:6 as part of today's reading… Good timing, Lord.

    Thank you, Lord, for your perfect timing and for speaking to each of us today differently but all through the same verses. I pray for each of these beautiful, strong women that you will fill them today with your presence. Take their anxiety and worry, transform their thoughts to perspective thinking, and remind them that You are in control today, and always. Too often I ask, and ask, and ask, not taking enough time to be thankful. Thank you, Lord, for blessing me daily in big and small ways, which too many times I take notice far too late. Bless these women today, each in the different way that they need. In Your Son's name, Amen.

  • Ellen MR

    I sure understand Casey!
    I, too, am floundering with my worries and perspective. Today I began counseling with my son, who has been very troubled lately. With a diagnosis of asberger’s and major depression all wrapped up in puberty= nightmare! He’s acting out in all kinds of crazy ways, including dabbling in Wicca! This weekend he even got physical with me and it’s escalating more and more. I’ve been working with the youth minister at church about this and my son really likes this church, but he’ll turn around and go right back to this witchcraft crap! I KNOW he’s testing me- he’s chosen the ONE thing I despise to see if I’ll still love him! Nothing seems to be getting thru…that I WILL love him and do anything to help him. He knows that I was terrified growing up with a brother who messed with the supernatural and had horrible experiences because of it…so he’s walking a fine line, seeing how far I’ll go to save him from Satan’s clutches. What his immature 12yr old mind doesn’t understand is the unimaginable risks he’s taking!! I/we’ve tried to tell him, but he’s right back at it again. I hope this counseling will help him, and me, to deal with this and all the other issues raging thru him at this time. I don’t seem to be able to direct my prayers/pleas beyond “Please protect us and keep the darkness away! Please Lord, reveal yourself to him, so he knows You are there and will always be there for him!” I keep trying to tell him too that although he’s disappointed in his biological father, God is and can be the best Father for him- Ever!! His Dad will be going to counseling too, to try to work on their relationship,
    but it seems all his anger and defiance is directed at me now instead…I don’t understand, but there it is…
    Thanks Sisters, for listening to my rambling. Today’s devo sure applies-I really do need perspective, especially in my prayers. Yesterday’s verse from Romans keeps repeating in my head also…and I DO have Hope….knowing my help comes from the Lord!
    Wishing all of you a Blessed day!

    • sue

      Prayers for you Ellen, and your son. You know we feel safe lashing out at the one that we hope will love us no matter what, so just keep on loving him. Smother him with the love of a mother, and the love that God allows to shine through us. Just keep calling on the lord with your armour. __I pray that our father will send his legion of angels to protect and surround your son and your family, that he will breathe his holiness around you and yours. May his protection overflow and make your home a place where there is love and peace. In his name I pray, Amen.

    • Emily P

      Ellen,
      I am so sorry. May I make some suggestions ? If not, disregard ;). The diet GAPS. Have you heard of it? It's Gut and psychologal disorders. Or paleo too, but gaps really hones in on healing the gut and works for anyone with things like autism, etc. at the very least get him off of sugar and gluten and grains, dairy. And too, a deliverance. For you, to cleanse out family curses. Or at least a book or two on spiritual warfare. People in general do not know what we're really up against. Counseling will be good, but I find they very rarely work on the diet or come up against demonic forces. I will be praying for you ;)
      Luv,
      Em

  • Thank you and amen. I love this:
    "Perhaps a little known part of prayer is the way it can change the constant onslaught of positive thinking we hear time and time again to perspective thinking. Positive thinking too often focuses on us; on our ability to change our thought process to an ideal or outcome we would like to have. It can act as a buffer in facing reality. Perspective thinking takes that focus to Jesus, letting His Word be our mind’s guide. Prayer focuses us again on how any situation, any outcome can be used for the glory of God. Not only the ones we wanted or think equaled happiness".
    Perspective thinking vs Positive thinking!!! Awesome.

  • This concept is hitting home for me today but I am still incredibly worried about something going on in my life. I keep trying to give it to God, and feel momentay relief and His presence, but then something will cause it to come rushing back. It makes me feel like I'm failing at my relationship with God and I feel guilty that I continue to worry so much. Could I just have prayer for relief from this awful fear and worry and that my bond with God will be strengthened? I'm sure we could all use some of that so I will be praying for you all too. Thank you!

    • Alyssa

      Oh my goodness! I'm dealing with the exact same cycle… Worry, give it to God, take it back, feel guilty… Over and over again! Praying for you! :)

    • Victoria

      You got the prayers Casey. I think we all struggle with this.

  • ~Grace & Peace

    "Psalm 123:1-2 I look up toward you, the one enthroned in heaven.
    2 Look, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
    as the eyes of a female servant look to the hand of her mistress,
    so my eyes will look to the Lord, our God, until he shows us favor."

    I was curious as to the use of the word "hand' so I looked it up in the original language.

    hand = yad
    hand (of man)
    strength, power (fig.)

    Strength, power. Just as a servant looks to his masters for direction and strength, I should do the same. My eyes should be focused on the power of God – to change my circumstances, to change me. Instead, what do I do? Instead of looking up, Ilook around. When I do that is when "worry" hits me between the eyes.

    I love the tie in between the scriptures. Thank you for the devo. I got a lot out of that, too!

    I'll share the one about prayer changing our perspective:

    My 12-year-old reminded me of this when I grumbled at being stuck behind a bus early this morning. In my defense, it was very early in the morning, I mean even-before-the-sun-was-up-early! He said something about me grumbling (did I mention it was early?) but the people who need it to go to work feel differently – they are thankful for that bus. It's all about perspective, he said. Just like he learned yesterday at Sunday school….Well, I'm glad one of us is retaining what we heard from church.

    Thank you, sisters, for the encouragement and conviction.

  • I too, am loving the perspective thinking advice. I am a positive thinker, but I have come to the realization how selfish this can be. So thank you for the perspective Sarah, of looking thru “Christ-colored glasses! How easy is that, & yet not easy; as an imperfect human I cherish these training tools.

    I love the wisdom that unfolds on this site. Wisdom, or rather the search for God’s life altering wisdom, is my prayer in this season, and througbout this earthly life.

  • Emily P.

    You almost sceared me when I read the phrase "positive thinking", it's a huge pet peeve of mine. You see a Freemason actually wrote the book on it, yet so many Christians adopt the belief that our thoughts have power over our circumstances. When my son went missing and had asked for prayer on Facebook someone said "just think positive". I thought, really ? We should've been praying for a Lazereth miracle….lets get serious and deal with the truth. (He was found, but already dead)…. So….having said that, thank you for that release of guilt I sometimes feels in that I would rather live in truth than denial. Love this study and such great woman to listen to !

  • Wow, I could really use this perspective thinking and prayer today. I have to have a not-so-fun confrontation with an acquaintance today, and it's proabbly not going to be pretty. Prayer would be appreciated for me in the hours leading to it today, and during so that I would remember to focus on God and His grace so that I would be able to give the same to the person I am meeting with. The last thing I need to be doing is dwelling on me and what I want to say, and all of their attributes and failings.

    Letting go of my worries of this meeting!

  • Wow! Forgive before change occurs! That is awesome ! I want that kind of faith! That kind of perspective!

  • Carolynmimi

    On Sunday my husband (my pastor) 's message title was "Perspective" and the scripture was the parable of the Prodigal Son. While he explored the perspective of all the characters in the parable, he dwelt on The Father. A father who loved both his boys, who divided his property between them and watched one leave to squander his in foreign unclean living and the other grind himself into the ground failing to enjoy his inheritance. The Father kept watch over both. We all know the story, but what Terry said within this message fits so with today's devotion reading. The Father's vision allowed him to see afar and respond. The Holy Spirit within us, if we do not block Him with worry, doubt, or "positive thinking" controls our vision, our hearing so that we forgive before change occurs and encourage as all of you have me today to bring our whole selfs under the perspective of Christ.

  • Save_By_Grace

    Wow…..Just in awe in what God is telling me this was definitely something to meditate on. Praying is such a powerful way to ask God to help us in our everyday life, the bible say in Mathew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest". Sisters I don't know about you but i feel encourage to but my worries and burdens in Jesus
    Christ MY LORD AND SAVIOR!!!!! AMEN!!!

  • songmistress

    Yes! How awesome is today's devotion, right?

    PERSPECTIVE THINKING. We don't need positive thinking, we need PERSPECTIVE THINKING. That's brilliant. Today's devotion reminds me of Isaiah 26:3, which says, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You."

    Perspective thinking: our God is greater, higher, stronger, mighty to save, very present to help, Saviour, Healer, All Sufficient. That puts our issues, our worries, in perspective. Keeping our eyes (and mind) on him brings peace the world just cannot understand. It's amazing.

    I admit, I struggle with worry. It has hit me hard to learn that, really, worry is a symptom of doubt – which I should come against in the name of Jesus. Again I pray (as I so often do), Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!

    Alas, I do not have a video for today's Psalm (the next one will be for Psalm 130…wait for it, it's going to be a good one), but I do have a bit of a consolation. I had no idea that today's devotion would include Philippians 4:8 in it, but a few years ago I did an acapella vocal arrangement and video for this powerful verse. So, I'll leave you with my "Whatever", and hope it blesses you. :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c0kThLLrdM

  • I, too, loved the discussion of perspective thinking vs. positive thinking. I have always been a worrier since as long as I can remember. Before school field trips, I would get so worried and nervous that I couldn't sleep at night. My mom had to buy me these little things called "worry dolls," which you put under your pillow at night to "take the worry away." Then, the older I got the more I learned to try and handle my worries, because they can be all-consuming. I turned it into positive thinking. I boast, and those around me do as well, that I am such a "positive thinker," and always see the glass half full. But, today, I was hit with a little reality check that being a positive thinker isn't the end of the road. I need to keep striving for perspective thinking. Not asking, how do I turn this situation around to better fit my life/my goals, etc., but how does God think about this situation? What does the Word say about this?

    Such a great reminder….once again, thanks SRT and have a blessed day =)

  • I love the concept of perspective thinking v. positive thinking. I think sometimes as Christians, it's assumed that we see the world through rose-colored glasses, and therefore, we must be worry free. But I think the goal is to see the world through Christ-colored glasses, having His eyes for people and situations in our lives, making our worries less about ourselves and more about building His kingdom. I'm praying for my heart to be set right and to put on those Christ-colored glasses today.

    • hooleywithaz

      Christ-colored glasses. the description i've been trying to find for weeks! thank you!

  • Candacejo

    LindaG my heart goes out to you. As Mothers it is so hard not to worry about our children but you are right, we can't control what they do but we can pray. Praying releases the burden from us and lets God carry it for us. He is watching over her and you can pray a hedge of protection around her and that The Lord will help her see the mistakes she is making. Praying for you.

    The scripture I opened up to this morning I thought went beautifully with our study and I love it in the NLT version! "Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is." Ephesians 3:18,19.

    Thank you hooleywithaz for your post that went along perfect with today as well! Community!

  • This spoke to me this morning. I’ve had a difficult weekend because my 23-year-old daughter lashed out at me and said some very hurtful things. I do worry about her choices, behaviors and her salvation. Reality check! No I cannot control her, but I CAN pray. Thank you, Lord. You love our own beloved children infinitely more than we do.

  • jesusgirl71

    I loved the perspective idea too! I woke up with the verse in my mind: “Remain in me and I will remain in Y.” Fits so well here! Prayer has always been a struggle for me. I sometimes draw a blank on what to pray. Thanks for this reminder of how important prayer is.

  • The verses from Philippians have always been my go when worry. Which as a woman and mom of 3 grandma of 7 I have often felt like worry was just a part of me and my life…..thank GOD that he is always in control! I too was blown away with the perspective idea.
    Thank you girls for opening my mind to better understanding of Gods word.

  • God’s mercies are given to us NEW each morning. I am thankful for this very truth. I have always had a problem with the concept of “positive thinking”; not that there is anything wrong with thinking positively, but it does not place us on the “firm foundation” which is found in Christ Jesus.

    Thank you SRT for using God’s Word to renew my mind, reminding and giving me a “fresh perspective” on how I should direct my thoughts.

  • hooleywithaz

    first, a quick non-reflection: can i just say, i love the psalm verses with exclamation points? it feels like you can tell how excited and passionate david was about the songs, like he couldn't contain all his emotion into the words or something. i really like it! :)

    i love prayer. this devotion this morning will probably go down as my favorite in this study. philippians 4:4-9 has been written in the front of my Bible for almost ten years, because i have yet to find a better reminder of why we pray. and as i find more reasons to be anxious as i get older, i find myself going to God with those anxieties more and more. and sometimes i need to remind myself to ask, "what does He want for me?" instead of the easier thought of, "what do I want God to do for me?", but i just keep trying to get it right, and He always eases my mind.

    i don't normally share my blog here, but i wrote a post on this exact Scripture verse back in december when i was having a hard time with a lot going on in the world, and it really gets my thoughts across perfectly (and maybe some of you even feel the same way): http://hooleywithaz.com/do-not-be-anxious/

  • Bridgette

    “Don’t worry about anything, instead PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING.” I don’t know about you but I find comfort in this verse. Trust God will take care of us if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to Him and bring to Him all our worries. “Then we will experience God’s peace.” -Philippians 4:6-7

  • Worry has plagued me off & on since I was a young girl. It’s only been in this most recent decade of my life–as I’ve been called to get serious about my Christian walk–that I’ve been able to turn my focus off my worries and onto God and what He says. Got to say, ladies, that has been a much better way to live! Great reminder this morning! Have a blessed day, sisters!

  • AmyKelly213

    I love the quote by Erma Bombeck! So true!! Worrying gets us no where but farther from God!!

  • chikchik92

    These passages are such good reminders to keep my focus on God rather than myself if I want to prevent worrying

  • speakyourlifesoullove

    I am so blessed and in awe of today's reading! ALL weekend my mind has been attacked as I questioned my future's plans! I am graduating from college in May and it's daunting because I have been in school all my life. I am applying to several jobs and Christian Counseling programs but I don't even know if I am ready for either path( I love each one though). I spent all weekend stressed and upset . I follow a movement called Pinky Promise movement and the founder sent us Philippians 4:8. All day I meditated on the chapter and then I was blown away at how much peace I received from God. As I sat down to read early this morning I praised God for this word and His constant reaching for me. The idea of perspective taking blew me away! Whew! I am so content because I know God will work out everything

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