For the few of you, (two or three, or so it seems) that are never tempted to worry in this day and age, please scroll right along. For all the rest of us, a timely reminder:
“Do not be anxious [do not worry] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6)
We could worry about a thousand things, yet this passage says do not worry about anything. I can’t think of a thing that wouldn’t fall under the category of anything. Additionally, we are to bring everything to God in prayer. There isn’t a circumstance that is outside of His care for us, nothing that escapes his sight. In fact, God’s word says that He knows our needs before we even ask Him. (Matthew 6:8)
To overcome anxiety, according to this passage, is to come to the Lord in the right understanding of who He is. The passage, as stated by the synonyms “prayer” and “supplication” all indicate a specific, direct petition to God.1 This is shown in a context of humility and not rebellion. It indicates an attitude as one would approach a loving Father, as One who is “an ever-present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
It also tells us to come to Him with thanksgiving. In “Anxiety Attacked”, John MacArthur points out the example of the prophet Jonah. Even when a great fish swallowed him, he prays:
“I called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me…while I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to Thee…Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to Thee with the voice of thanksgiving…” (Jonah 2:2, 2:7, 2:8-9).
I have a long way to go in this area, but what helps me stay in a mindset of thankfulness is to keep a journal of answered prayer through tough times. It helps to show me how much worse a circumstance could have been, and it is a way to record an ongoing testimony that I can draw from in times when I need more faith.
God never promised us that He would eliminate pain from our lives, but He has promised His supernatural peace if we trust Him. Read the next verse in this passage:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)
The word “guard” here is the transliteration “Phroureo”, which is a military term, implying the vigilant protection of our hearts and minds as a soldier might protect his own.2
The next time you are tempted to worry, ask God for this peace that is beyond you. Ask Him to protect your heart and mind by the promise of His diligent care.
Are you struggling with a specific care or worry? Why do you think it is so easy to hang on to? Take those specifics to Him. He already knows our every need.
What are some of the many mercies of God that you can draw upon in grateful prayer?
1. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Philippians, 283
2. Ibid, P. 284