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Don’t Worry, Be Prayerful!

Twenty-six years ago (1988) Bobby McFerrin grabbed people by the ears and put a smile on many faces with a catchy and light-hearted tune titled, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." The first verse said, "Here's a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it note for note. Don't worry, be happy. In every life we have some trouble. When you worry you make it double. Don't worry, be happy." The simple song spoke a message our anxious, worried-sick world desperately needs. We need to learn not to worry so much. No,let me re-phrase that: I need to learn not to worry so much! Dale Carnegie said, "Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday." Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the U. S. advised, "If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you." A story reminds us how badly worry warps our attitude. On a dark rainy night a salesman had a flat tire on a lonely road. To his dismay he had no lug wrench. Seeing a nearby farmhouse, he set out on foot. Surely the farmer would have a lug wrench., he thought. But then he began to worry — would he come to the door if he heard a knock? If he did, he'd probably be furious at being bothered. He'd say, "What's the big idea of getting me out of bed in the middle of the night?" The thought that the fanner wouldn't help him worried the salesman. As he neared the house, that thought turned from worry to anger. Frustrated and drenched, he banged on the door. "Who's there?" a voice called out from a window overhead. "You know good and well who it is," yelled the salesman, his face red with his anger. "It's me! And you can keep your lousy, stinking lug wrench! I wouldn't borrow it if it as the last one in the county!"

Worry is not only not a good thing, it is not a new thing. Two millennia ago Jesus said, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" That's Matthew 6:25, and two more times in the next few verses the Lord urges His listeners, "Do not worry" (vs 31, 34). The English Standard Version in the three verses noted says, "Do not be anxious." Jesus' listeners probably never heard about "anxiety attacks," but Jesus' words imply some were having them! In Philippians 4:6-7 the apostle Paul, from a prison cell, instructs Christians at Philippi — "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." One modern translation renders verse 6a, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything." I don't know what you are worried about. But I have lived long enough and done enough worrying to know that worrying never helps us and may actually hurt us mentally, physically, and spiritually. Somebody has observed — "If it's worth worrying about, it's worth praying about. And if it's not worth praying about, it's not worth worrying about." Bobby McFerrin said something good when he said, "Don't worry be happy." But the Bible says something much better. It says, "Don't worry, be prayerful." Pray about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ