“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
How often is not this the dreadful experience of God’s people?
The Word of God addresses this.
“Be careful for nothing.” The meaning is, do not worry about anything. Easier said than done, as we know.
But here is the prescription for worry. “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
To this is attached a wonderful promise: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“Be careful for nothing!”
God in His providence often places us in adverse situations. In its explanation of providence, the Heidelberg Catechism speaks of drought, barren years, sickness and poverty, all of which come not by chance but by God’s fatherly hand (Lord’s Day 10). Having lost all his riches, his ten children, and then his health, Job responded to his grieving wife, “What? Shall we receive good from the hand of God and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).
When God sends evil into our lives, we are prone to worry. A number of questions push themselves to the foreground of our soul. How long will this last? How adversely will this affect me? How can I possibly deal with it? Very quickly we see catastrophe looming in the future. And so we become consumed with worry. Fear takes hold of us. Our souls become disquieted.
Be careful for nothing!
It is important to distinguish between worry and the proper care we are to have in the affairs of life. To be careful for nothing does not mean to be careless.
There are many ‘cares’ (responsibilities/concerns) that we are to shoulder in life and that can even be burdensome. Although we are to take no thought (not to worry about) what we shall eat or drink or wear (Matt. 6:31), we are to take great care to provide these earthly needs for our family. We certainly must have concern about our marriages and families that are under attack in these evil days. We must have the same concern about the welfare of our churches and Christian schools. Paul informed the Corinthian church that daily he carried the care of all the churches (II Cor. 11:28).
The point of the passage is that we are not to allow these necessary ‘cares’ to bring us to a state of worry. When the responsibilities of this life overwhelm us so that we are anxious, alarmed, and fearful, we have fallen into the grip of worry. When our sleep is disturbed and our appetite is affected, when we become irritable because our minds are preoccupied with the troubles of life, we have fallen victim to worry. This is exactly what the devil wants. Worry is just one of many ways in which the powers of darkness would destroy our faith and lead us away from our blessed Savior.
Be careful for nothing!
“But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and requests are all closely related.
Prayer is the general term under which the other three are subsumed.
Supplication is prayer for God’s gracious benefits and blessings. These supplications take the form of requests.
A request is a specific petition for particular blessings. These two terms point to one aspect of prayer. In prayer God gives His people the privilege in Jesus Christ to bring their needs to Him and seek His help. How important this is! God will give His grace and Holy Spirit to those only who with sincere desires continually ask them of Him, and are thankful for them (Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 116).
Then there is thanksgiving. This is a grateful acknowledgment in prayer of God’s goodness to us. How wonderfully the Lord has blessed us in His grace and mercy! He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to offer the perfect sacrifice for all our sins. In Jesus Christ He provides full and free salvation according to which He forgives all our sins and enters into a blessed life of friendship and fellowship with us. In Christ He also protects us, provides for all our needs, and promises all good things. Prayer is also the opportunity God has given us to thank Him for blessings and promises given. In fact, expressing our thanks to God in prayer is the chief part of thankfulness that God requires of us (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 116).
“In everything” we are to pray. In other words, we are to respond with prayer in every situation of life.
When we prosper under the hand of God, then we must pray. In prayer we must thank God for His abounding blessing. But we must also request that He continue His blessings to us in Jesus Christ.
And we are to pray when God’s hand brings evil upon us.
In prayer we are to make our requests known to God in earnest supplication. Let us be careful what we request. Our request must not be driven by selfish desires and self-promotion. All that we ask of God must be designed for His glory. Jesus taught that with the first petition of His model prayer, “Hallowed be Thy name.” Doing that, we will find ourselves in time of distress more often asking for God’s grace to humble ourselves under His hand in contentment rather than for Him to change the circumstances of our lives. And, still more, we must ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit to trust Him in our adversity. How often does not our worry stem from a lack of trust in God?
In that connection, do not forget to thank God for His great blessings. When God sends pain and suffering, we tend to dwell on all the bad things of a situation, focusing on all the catastrophes that may possibly come. If only we will remember the blessings of God to us, His faithfulness and His promises, many of our worries will be allayed. And so, take the time to thank God for His great blessings.
If only we would pray as we ought!
Are you consumed with worry? Reflect on your prayer life.
Are you too consumed with worry even to pray? Seek the help of your fellow saints to assist you in prayer.
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God is the inner peace of heart and mind that God graciously provides for His people in Jesus Christ. It is the opposite of worry and anxiety. It is an inner peace that arises out of the assurance that one is right with God, that the God who controls all things loves him and cares for him, and that God will avert all evil or turn it to his profit. It is an inner peace that makes for contentment, joy, and good hope in the worst of situations.
God promises this peace to those who in the struggles of life let their requests be made known unto God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.
This is a peace that passes all understanding. It is a peace that cannot be fully comprehended or rationally explained. It often defies human understanding. In the midst of tragedy the people of God find peace through prayer, and the world looks on in amazement. Often the saints themselves are mystified by the peace they come to experience as they pass through life’s fiery trials.
That peace shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. It is with a born-again heart and a renewed mind that we through Jesus Christ serve the God of our salvation. With heart and mind we take up the good work that God has for us in His church and kingdom. How one’s ability to do that is hampered and compromised when the heart and mind are overwhelmed with worry! The peace of God that comes through prayer keeps or guards our hearts and minds, so that we are able to serve God faithfully and to do the good work He sets before us, even in the worst of trials.
Is your lot one of suffering and adversity?
Be careful for nothing.
In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.