Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Anxious for nothing; prayer in everything. Never worry. Always pray. There are three words used for prayer here: prayers, supplications (NIV uses petitions), requests.
- Prayers – general word for talking to God.
- Petitions (δέησις) – this word is more specific and means “entreaty.” This is a word of urgency and need. It’s the difference between conversation and a cry for help.
- Requests – asking for things. When are we to do this? In everything!
Paul also adds that these prayers are to be done in a spirit of thanksgiving. This is critical as thanksgiving acknowledges God’s right to do what he wants. When I am thankful to God I am submissive to his will. When I am thankful in prayer, I acknowledge his goodness.
Thankful prayers kill worry and anxiety by reminding us that God is in control and that he is good.
- When I am anxious, I am refusing to give up control. When I am praying, I am acknowledging God’s sovereign control.
- When I am anxious, I believe I KNOW what is good. When I am praying, I am acknowledging God knows what is good better than I do.
Here is the amazing reality—the God of heaven WANTS us to make requests to him.
[Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Look at the life of our Lord and see from his boldness and reliance on his heavenly Father that God is not afraid of our honest cries for help. In the garden, he is so honest with his heavenly Father to say, “Take this cup of suffering from me!” Honest. Raw. Real. I think our prayers are too “churchy.” Be real with God in your requests. Honest and raw prayers honor God far more than our fear.
One of my earliest memories is when we were visiting a Christian camp. I was maybe three or four and my dad carried me out on the long dock into the lake. From my vantage point, that dock seemed incredibly narrow and slender. I cried out, “Don’t drop me Daddy!”All I could see was the water. I was afraid. Maybe my dad would drop me, or maybe he wasn’t strong enough or maybe he wasn’t looking out for me!
- [Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
- And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
What kind of peace is he talking about? Not the objective peace between God and man that is the result of justification. That is another peace. But in order to have the peace OF God, you have to have peace WITH God. And if today your soul does not know peace, one explanation could be that you have never made peace with God. God has offered a peace treaty through the blood of his own Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. The terms of peace are a repentance of our rebellion against him and the embrace of Christ as Savior and Lord. This is saving faith. And with saving faith comes objective peace with God.
But that is not the peace described here. This peace is the opposite of anxiety. It is the peace of the heart; the calm assurance that all will be well; that sense of security that every man and woman longs for. “Peace is the smile of God reflected in the soul of the believer. It is the heart’s calm after Calvary’s storm. It is the firm conviction that he who spared not his own Son will surely, also, along with him, freely give us all things.” (William Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary: Philippians, p. 194) It is the peace that comes from God as we refuse to give in to fear and trust that God is in control. Prayer gives up control and gives it to God.
Prayers of petition can be for anything: any care we have; any care for ourselves or our lives; any care for others and their lives; any care for our church; or kingdom work around the world. We should bring all of these to God. When we speak to our heavenly Father about them, know that he cares.
“Make your requests known unto God.” Make the request. Make it with a view toward God’s will being done, but feel free to make your will known to God as well. Our prayers are not bold enough. Make them bold and make them fervent. Let God know how much you care about this and how much you need him to act.
Be bold in prayer, make requests known to God, and truly believe that God will act always according to his goodness and his will. When I want what God wants, I get what I want every time.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2012 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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