Not Just a Quick Prayer (Philippians 4:6-7)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7
In this week’s Fighter Verses, we are given a remedy for our anxious hearts. And as with any prescription for healing, there are instructions to follow. It can be helpful for us to examine the definition of the words in the subject of these verses to give us clarity as to what the Apostle Paul is prescribing.
We can interpret the word anxious in a few different ways, but what kind of anxious is Paul referring to here? Most commentaries agree that it refers to a soul that is habitually fretful and troubled. So using this definition the command would be, “do not be fearful, worried, or troubled by the cares of this life.” Do not be anxious, but in everything—every sin and fretful circumstance, every cultural upheaval, every loss or gain, every slight or betrayal, every heartbreak and painful memory, every worry, every thing— turn to God in prayer.
What follows in this command gives us a picture of intimate fellowship with our heavenly Father—“In everything…by prayer.” The Greek word for prayer in this instance is “worship and devotion” to God. Come to Him with praise and thanksgiving for who He is, recognizing His power and authority. Worship Him as those who belong to Him and know by experience that He alone is able.
By prayer and supplication. As we worship God in prayer, we come in supplication for personal needs, in lowliness and utter dependence. “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). Do you trust Him that He is your refuge? He will not cast out anyone who comes to Him. You can tell Him everything. He knows it already and loves you. So come, pour out your heart before Him. Lay your burdens on Him. Weep in His arms and let Him restore your soul. Then, a song of thanksgiving to God will return to your heart and be on your lips.
Let your requests be made known to God. You have poured out your cares and worries to your Father, and now for the requests. What will you ask of Him? The requests we make reveal our faith in Christ and our desire for His will in our lives. Jesus told His disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24). Do you hear the loving tone of these words? Don’t be afraid to ask. Our life in Christ is one of asking always and His answers give us such joy! Jesus laid down His life that we might have as the seal on our requests, His name that is above every name. With joyful expectation we can make our requests, knowing that through Christ we are reconciled to God and are welcomed at the throne of grace. Let your requests be made known to God, and His peace that is beyond intellect, emotion, or circumstance—the peace of God that surpasses understanding—will be yours. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
This peace will “guard” our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Translation help is found in Kenneth Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament: “God’s peace, like a sentinel, mounts guard and patrols before the heart’s door, keeping worry out.” May we worship the Lord with pure devotion. In humility, let us come and pour out our hearts before Him, making our requests to Him in these troubled times of life. And the peace of our God and Father will be like a sentinel guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Suggested hymn: “Children of the Heavenly Father”
When troubled by the cares of this world, where do you turn? If not to your heavenly Father, ask Him now to realign your heart to look to Him first “in everything.”
In what ways will memorizing and meditating on Philippians 4:6-7 personally equip you for the fight of faith?
Read through John 14-17. Make a list of Jesus’ promises to believers regarding prayer.