Peter instructs his readers that they have to cast their cares on God. Here we have a picture of prayer. He does not mean that we cast them in the way that a fisherman casts his line, keeping hold of it. Instead we cast them in the way that a child will give an item to his parent for safe-keeping. The item may not seem much to an onlooker, but both the parent and the child have a shared interest that makes the item important to both of them.
In prayer, we have to ask God to deal with our thinking processes. The fact is that most of our wrong concerns arise from wrong thinking. We are to ask the Lord to teach us how to think in each difficult situation. No doubt we can imagine one of Peter’s readers worrying about what would happen on a particular day. He would ask God to help him to think in that circumstance as a Christian should.
Sometimes, we should ask God to enable us to think about something else whenever we find ourselves having worried thoughts. Paul deals with anxious thoughts in Philippians 4:6-7. He tells his readers to pray about them, and assures them that God’s peace can be known. Then he urges them to meditate on things that are noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report and praise worthy. Frequently, worried thoughts will disappear once we start thinking about spiritual matters, when we set our minds on the things that belong to the heavenly world. Such a response has other benefits in addition to dealing with our anxiety. Becoming increasingly spiritually-minded leaves its influence in every area of one’s life.
In prayer, we also have to ask God to enable us to deal with the devil’s attacks. There is a connection between our concerns and the devil’s temptations because Peter will move next to tell his readers how to respond to what Satan is doing to them. Such a request is not for information about what the devil is doing, but for God to preserve us from being led into temptation and of deducing wrong ideas from what is happening to us.
It is also the case that we should pray specifically about illegitimate worries that we have. We should take each one of them to God and ask him to help us with them. This involves time, but it is time well-spent.
Further in prayer, we have to ask God to teach us how we can apply his promises to ourselves continually. No doubt we would all accept the general principle that God cares for his people. Often what we need is the assurance that he cares for me. One of the ways in which we can help ourselves is be praying the psalms. In many of them, the psalmists have fears and we can use their words to help us come through similar experiences.