Have you ever shared a problem you were having with a friend and they told you to just, “Give it up to God!”? Don’t you just want to slap that person? It’s not that they’re wrong – it’s exactly what we should do – but it’s the way they say it as if you can just take this problem, “give it to God” and shazam it’s all better. If you’re reality is like mine it’s just not that easy.
I want to talk a little today about how we really can give our concerns to God in a way that will ease our anxieties, as well as result in God doing miracles in our lives.
First off we need to know that God wants us to place our burdens on Him. 1 Peter 5:7 is very clear about this “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I know a lot of people who tell me that pray for the “big” things in their life but they don’t really want to bother God with the small stuff. That’s actually not biblical. God wants all of you; He wants to be the center of every part of your life so don’t withhold praying to Him for all your needs, big and small.
Second, and this is really hard, we need to understand that nothing we experience hasn’t first gone through God’s hands. I really don’t like that – I’ve experienced some really rotten stuff and I don’t understand fully why God would allow me to suffer like I did. But the flip side of that coin is had God not been in my life during those experiences – mostly caused by the idiot decisions of other people –they would have been a lot worse! When we experience hardships we need to really trust God; we need to trust that He knows what He’s doing even if His ways are not our ways and we don’t understand it. If I can trust God I can go to Him in prayer and supplication. If I don’t trust God, I will not “give it up to Him.”
Third, we need to set the proper expectations as to what God will do in our lives when we go to Him. By now you know that God answers all your prayers but sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes we experience horrible things because God cannot take away the free will of others to act in evil ways that affect us. Sometimes we experience things so that God can use them later for His glory (think Jesus going to the cross). Sometimes God will intervene directly in our lives in a very tangible way and answer our prayer directly! That hard part is we really don’t know how God will respond to our prayers; we just know that He will in His way and in His time.
Jesus tells us in John 14:13, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The key to this sentence is the Father being glorified. That means if we ask for something in Jesus’ name that is in the Father’s will and glorifies Him it will be done. Some have used this verse as a blank check to ask for anything in Jesus’ name and then are disappointed when God doesn’t come through for them. That’s not what this verse says. I can lay my concerns at the feet of Jesus and ask that the Father relieve me of the situation but if that’s not in the Father’s will or it doesn’t glorify Him it won’t happen.
So where does that leave us? Peter tells us to cast our anxieties on God and Jesus tells us the Father will answer our prayers so long as they glorify Him. Here’s what I get out of these two verses:
- We are to go to God in prayer and boldly share our feelings with him just like David did in the Psalms.
- We need to trust that God knows what He is doing even if it’s not the way we would do it or the way we want it done.
- God’s answer to our prayers may not actually de-escalate the situation. That does not mean you need to be anxious about it if you truly trust God will do what is best for you in the long run.
- As you prepare to pray to God question yourself about your motives and if they are in line with God’s will. Does what you are about to ask in Jesus’ name glorify the Father?
- When praying in Jesus’ name, ask for the right thing! For example, instead of asking God to remove the situation from your life instead ask that He enable you to endure the situation through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I know the people who tell me to just give it up to God mean well. And in fact, they are right – I should go to God and seek his counsel and relief. But the key to giving it up to God in my life has been understanding just who God is and that it is vitally important that I ask for the right thing when I pray. My prayers should be in line with who God is and being in His will not just selfishly seeking relief from my own discomfort.
So if you’re going through something today – big or small – think about who God is in your life, how He has shown Himself to you before, and what His will is for your life before you pray. Then give it up to Him in total trust that He will do the right thing for you so that you no longer have to be anxious or concerned.