“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 NIV
It is so easy to find ourselves concerned and stirred up about situations in our lives, but this verse is a true reminder to us of the manner in which we should be facing these very moments. Paul is not writing as one who does not understand but rather from a prison cell, he pens these words of life and strength.
He begins by telling us what not to do. Do not. Maybe he is saying make an active choice not to, or be intentional when circumstances arise not to. Refuse to be anxious, afraid, don’t become a basket case, uptight or worried. This sounds easier said then done. However, again he is speaking this from a place of having no idea what was going to unfold in his life. What would his tomorrow bring? While in so much uncertainty he says, refuse to become concerned about anything, any one thing, at all. Refuse to become worried at all? This is a real challenge for me. I tend to find lots of things to concern myself with, even when I have some element of certainty in my life. I worry, I fret, and I become anxious. He is saying, don’t do it.
Then he offers the way in which we can combat it. If in everything, all things, each thing I will choose to pray, worship, commune with the Lord. If in each thing, as I commune I bring my requests and appeal to the Lord about the things that press on me. And if I do them in thanksgiving, with an attitude of thanks. I just might find that my anxious thoughts have scattered. There is something about a thankful heart that is at peace.
He does not tell me to pretend they don’t exist. He knows that they may very well be real, but he tells me to take them with a grateful heart and present, offer, entrust, devote, and lay these requests, desires, concerns before God. Our very personal God who loves and is involved in our every moment. Paul tells me to bring my anxieties, with a heart of thanks in communion, to my God who hears.
Applying this Word could really turn an anxious heart into a trusting heart, communing with Abba and living in tremendous peace. It all starts with a choice to refuse to follow a familiar pattern and be willing to shift into a God directed life.
Looking forward to your thoughts.
evie says:January 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Norman says:January 9, 2014 at 6:23 pm
I have not taken this verse to heart ( as so many others ) but have left them in my mind only, filed under ” religious section “. One word that Paul used that really struck me was the word PRESENT. Have you ever been asked to stand before a group and present your project, ideas etc. to the crowd. It isn’t the same as writing a note or sending an email or even a ” Oh by the way ……”. It is something that you have given lots of thought and put effort into wanting the hearers of your presentation to get what you are communicating. You want to share all the understanding that you have of the subject.
I have never thought to present my petitions before God but just threw up my words and thought ” well I have prayed about it ” Check that off my list of obligations. Perhaps God wants me to woo Him onboard with my request with the truth ( as best as I know it . ) Perhaps He wants me to put effort into praying like a kid would to a parent when the child really wants something. Anyway just some of the thoughts I had coming out of this. Now as I go to see the doctor about why my blood pressure is still through the roof I will remember not to be anxious. 🙂
Sue Holmes says:January 10, 2014 at 3:44 am
I really appreciate what you shared Norman. I hadn’t thought of the word ‘present’ in that light. This will cause me to rethink how I present my requests to God. Its true that I do it in such a ‘matter of fact’ manner … sometimes as if He is my servant. Not much humility there on my part. But I’m not making a presentation to just any audience. I’m standing before the King of Kings, the Maker of the Universe … the Maker of My Universe. If I would put time & effort into pitching a concept to my church family, my employer, my community … how much more should I do for the One who not only gave everything for me but also knows me best. Thanks for your candor. 🙂
Susan Craig says:January 9, 2014 at 9:35 pm
I am going to think more on this verse and may respond again later on but I have been led to share something that has put this verse to the test for me this week. I had 3 major stressful events happen this past week all within 24 hours, that put me in the pressure cooker and set my level of anxiety to the top of the scale(if there is such a thing).The reality is that I have struggled with this verse my whole life because I have felt that there must be something wrong with me that I am not able to respond in the way this verse speaks of. I feel like I am a failure as a Christian when I am in moments like these. Another translation says be anxious for Nothing but give thanks in Everything. Nothing and Everything are words that are absolutes and we are human beings that, no matter how much we try, we fall short of these absolutes. Like the verses that say be perfect-another absolute that is impossible for human beings to be. When stressful life events knock us to the ground and send our hearts and minds spinning out of control,anxiety is my honest and real response. I have no control over it-it just sends me into a panic inside that for a moment also attacks me with feelings of failure and inadequacy instead of victory. Can anyone else who reads this HONESTLY tell me their initial reaction, in these type of situations, would be trust??? If you can honestly say yes to that question,I need to know how you manage to react that way right away!!! Because I don’t know why I can’t do that too!!
Jim Holmes says:January 10, 2014 at 3:23 am
Being physically stressed to the limit brings tears to the heart. Some of us might not even express it outwardly…and others are in such disarray, a very real mess. Nevertheless, it is a very real issue…. In myself, in my flesh, I don’t want to be strong…it is in my weakness, that i cry out to God. We all struggle in the flesh…and the flesh is a real thing. Having said this….it is also the “temple” of God…and Spirit of God dwells in you, and you are in Christ Jesus, and He wants to, and reigns in us. His desire is to sit on the throne of our lives, and to dethrone us from our little kingdom for His glorious Kingdom.
This is so exciting…for when you chose Him as Lord and Saviour…He became your Lord and has saved and is saving you. You and I are in process. He is daily changing us….into His glorious bride. We are called “not to lean upon our own understanding”….called “to trust Him” in our failures, in spite of our failures, in spite of the many times we have let Him down or walked away from Him. I don’t know of any heart, God has turned away from, that longs for Him or yearns to be freed from personal bondage and difficult situations. Jesus is my Hope. No one did what He did for you and me. He died for us, and when He arose in victory…we arose with Him and have eternal life in the very Son of the Living God. His Father is our Father. I have no victory…my victory is in Christ. Remember the earlier scriptures we studied. It is God who is doing the work in you and I. The flesh and spirit are at war. Jesus is my peace….my Refuge, my Strength, my Redeemer. His Kingdom is an upside down Kingdom. Humility and dependance gets you everywhere….not pride and independence. Except you come as a child….the scripture says. The beauty, the glory, the brightness of the face of Jesus exceeds the brilliance of the sun. He has been given the name above all names…a name that we can trust. We can come to Jesus, in childlike faith (trust)….and our response is in childlike faith and trust. Be humble before Him and He will lift you up. Our perfection is IN Christ Jesus….it is not in our flesh. We are called to walk in the spirit…in Christ. Walking in Christ, is living a life crucified and raised again to that new life in Christ. For me to live…is Christ! This is a call to live in the flesh, living in the spirit. It needs proper nutrition and is the very temple of the very Person of the Holy Spirit, the Great Third Person of Trinity. He is your Teacher, and Comforter. He comes from our Father. 🙂 Abide in the Word…it is spirit and it is Life. Rest in His Promises. I may not be faithful or be able, but God is faithful and He is able. What really helps me when I am down and out and when God seems so so very far away…is a knowing, and an experience of His love for me…that “God loves me”…I may not feel anything at the moment….but my heart runs to Him. We as Christians are called to love one another. Know that we love and care for you. You come with a heart cry and I know God hears your heart. I cannot say how He will touch and take you through this time, but we will pray for you, and may He be your joy and strength. You are not a failure, and you have encouraged me many many times over the years…for in my heart I hear a voice singing…”God speaks to me,… everyday…” Susan…sing to Him, for Him…. 🙂 You belong to Him.
Susan Craig says:January 15, 2014 at 3:24 am
Thank you Jim for your kind words of encouragement to me this day-I love the statement that God’s Kingdom is an upside down Kingdom where dependance and humility means everything-that really spoke to me. Also the statement that your heart runs to Him. My heart also runs to Him and tho I do not understand all his ways, I am truly thankful that He has called me from His heart and my heart responded to Him. I have been seeking His face in some major decisions that I have to make and He is using His word to speak to me,to draw me to Him and to leave my independance and trust in my own strength and to trust Him to supply for all my needs. I am giving up nursing and no matter how difficult this decision has been for me,I do know that is what God wants for me in this moment. I went into nursing so that I could make a difference and share compassion to those in need. God gave me this huge compassionate heart to use. But He has also told me that just because I no longer will be nursing, I am still to use that compassionate heart for His purposes. This has given me much peace and I have had so many opportunities this week to actually do this that it has confirmed to me that I am doing the right thing-the best thing-tthe only thing God wants for me. Thanks for your pep talk!!
Jim Holmes says:January 10, 2014 at 1:25 am
Am I anxious, restless…what kind of “faith” is that….tossed up and down like the waves on an ocean. That would beat me up in no time at all.
Great guns…I should be looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. Now this takes humility and knowing that God cares about the details “of and in” our lives and those around us – so it is vitally important to keep short intervals between our conversations with God. If we were to pray then…would you pray with me this: Lord, make me your servant, give me “your heart for mine”, an instrument in your hand, fulfuilling your desire. You take all my anxiety away and I find my rest in You. You are my joy and my strength.
Patricia and Keith says:January 10, 2014 at 1:45 am
Do not be anxious about anything: Give it up and give it to God. I am no in control, all-powerful and an expert at doing the impossible. God is. Let go and let God. Do not worry. Do not be concerned about any circumstances real or imagined, have confidence, do not fear anyone but God.
But in everything: always, at all times, in all circumstances, no matter how I feel. Completely.
By prayers and petition: Communicate with Our Lord God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit and ask Him for what I/we/other people need. By talking to God, by requests to Him for who nothing is impossible, ask Him who has the power and authority to make it happen.
With thanksgiving: Maybe the thanksgiving = our hope, our belief that God will provide what we are asking for. It`s positive instead of negative, as in complaining. Gladly, Thank God that He answers prayer and for all He has done for us.
Present your requests to God: Ask God for whatever it is – even if more than one thing. Be honest. Tell the Father what your needs are and what the desires of your heart are, lay before the King your petitions.
How does this apply? God can do all things, I/we can`t. God knows all things past, present and future, we don`t. He is faithful, we can trust Him. Treat prayer time as a glad thing during which we not only ask but also thank God.
What am I going to do about it? Literally count my blessings and name them one by one! And know that it is God who has supplied them. Practice praying regularly and with all God has done in mind.
Sue Holmes says:January 10, 2014 at 2:29 am
What does today’s scripture mean to me? I need to stop worrying about what I can’t change. The day-to-day stuff that I encounter often is not under my control. But how I act (or react) is. This is where the ‘but’ comes into play. ‘But’ implies that there is an alternative and I have a choice.
There are times when things come across my path that are too much for me. There are days (like today) when life seems overwhelming. The effects of the disease seem too much, life’s responsibilities pile up and things get out of control. This is major for me. I used to spend years living a life where I (thought I) had everything under control. I’ve realized that I was like a set designer or orchestra conductor … making sure everything was in its right place. If something moved too far to the left or right I had to put it back in it’s place or adjust my life to accommodate the change. Everything had to look ‘ok’. After all I am a strong, ‘together’ person … right? I have to look strong if I want people to desire my God … RIGHT? RIGHT????
In reality, it was futile. Looking back, I realize that I had nothing under control. I was constantly reacting to life around me. I was well acquainted with anxiety. I knew God … or thought I did. But the god I knew expected me to make everything right before presenting myself to him. In essence I had made myself to be my own god without realizing it.
But … I love this word ‘but’. It tells me to stop. It tells me that there is a choice. It tells me that I can make a change.
To say that I had allowed circumstances turn me into a performance based person wouldn’t be right. Circumstances can’t do that … I did it myself. I was the one with the power to make that choice.
Unlearning well practiced behaviour is a major job in itself. I find that I often have to take myself back off the throne. This is a humbling act … to relinquish control and bow at His feet. But there is no true surrender without taking that step. The throne seat is too big for me. I get lost in it.
There is an alternative. The scripture invites … no, commands me to present my requests (my desires, my needs, my heart) to God. This act of presenting needs to be accompanied with an attitude of thanksgiving. The knowledge of who my Father is and how much He has been longing for me to run to Him should bring a rush of gratitude.
Present means to make a gift of … to give. I’ve come to think of a gift as something permanent. Once I give something to someone I no longer have any claim on it. I have no right to it.
Who better to give this messed up life and all its issues to than the very One who invested His life in me. How much more is changed by talking it over with God first (prayer) and giving the petitions of my heart to Him?
In writing this I am realizing anew that on days like today when the struggles of life and disease seem to overwhelm, that it doesn’t need to overwhelm. Yes, He does sometimes allow life to be more than I can handle. The waves sometimes seem to be above my head. He does this so that I can learn to hand these days over to Him. He does this so that I can learn to lean against His shoulder and not be anxious about the storm going on around me. He does this so that I can know the joy of having His pure, peaceful, passionate heart in exchange for my stressed out one.
This verse cannot truly be appreciated without the one that follows “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is the prize … the peace of God that not only protects our hearts & minds but keeps them in His Son! His peace for my anxiety!
Karen says:January 10, 2014 at 2:53 am
Anti-anxiety Rx: could PEACE be as easy as thankfully presenting our EVERY request to God. I think I will give this a try. Cheaper than therapy!!!!
Susan Craig says:January 10, 2014 at 8:02 am
Thank you Karen-summed it up so well!!
Susan Craig says:January 10, 2014 at 7:47 am
Somehow I seem to be getting the message that this verse is all about being thankful in everything He has allowed into our lives-the good and the bad,the easy times and the difficult times. But most importantly to be thankful that He is willing and able to overcome everything that makes us anxious and fearful because He has the power and strength to do so-not me but Him. No matter how I feel,God is still God and He is on His throne – and most importantly, He loves His own. And I am His own.Therefore He loves me!! God loves us and never stops loving us-no matter what!! We are never to doubt His love for us no matter what storms we are experiencing. He is the peace in the middle of the storm, the stillness in the eye of the hurricaine. So an attitude of gratitude is essential if I am ever going to experience peace in the storms of life. I will need to deliberately choose to be thankful,no matter how I feel or what the circumstances may be. Gratitude is our gift to Him and peace is His gift to us. Keeping it honest and real, I may not FEEL grateful for the storms I have been experiencing this week,but I truely AM thankful that God has not abandoned me in the midst of them and that He has been and is continuing to answer my prayers according to His will. He is giving me His strength to carry on!! Thank you Lord!!
Pat McRae says:January 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm
Thank you Pastor Freda for allowing me to join your church as they do this 40 days in the Word. I love all the comments and personal encouragements offered. This verse has only in the last 5 years become a reality to me in my walk with Jesus. Sometimes we have to be at the end of ourselves before God’s Word takes a hold on us and our confidence in the One doing the work allows us to press on in Him. That is where I was when this verse became real to me. My thoughts:
It is impossible to be anxious and grateful at the same time. Both are thought processes. I can not be anxious about anything unless I am thinking, more like dwelling on it. We have been promised trouble in life so why are we so surprised when it shows up. Sometimes the answers to trouble are easy ie: pay my bill so I don’t have to be anxious about losing services instead of a Tim’s coffee everyday.(Sorry if I stepped on any toes with that comment) But others are out of our control ie: loss of job, sickness. Yes the trouble will come, the thoughts will come but (I really love this word) BUT I have control over what I will think about and what I will dwell on. And since I enjoy peace I will dwell in the goodness of God, in the the unconditional love of my Daddy, in the promises from heaven secured for me at Calvary by God’s own Son, Jesus. I am still learning to recognize anxiety when it shows up but when it reveals it’s self praise with a grateful heart is my weapon of choice.