398. BE ANXIOUS! FOR NOTHING! GOD SAYS! Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing,” is the translation in the King James Version of the Bible of Philippians 4:6. KJV. At first sight that might mean for some people that we should be anxious. But the verse goes on to say, “Be anxious for nothing.” A more modern translation is easier to follow, “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. “ [English Standard Version.]

In other words, anxiety should never become a part of the Christian’s concerns in life. God is able to do something about the things that could cause anxiety in our lives. 

What is anxiety? The word for “to be anxious” in the original Greek version of the Bible is [merimnaō;μεριμνάω].  The word can mean “care” and the noun merimna is translated as such in the KJV. However when one is troubled by the care one has for someone or something, it can cause anxiety levels to rise in that person, and that is what anxiety is all about. 

What is God’s answer to the rise of anxiety in people? This is what Philippians 4:6 indicates.

1]. ANXIETY IS UNNECESSARY.  

“Do not be anxious about anything “ is God’s command through St Paul. The positive attitude of caring must not be changed into an anxious state of mind. “Anything” means what it says, “all things.” There can be no situation nor circumstance in which it is not possible for God to deal with the concerns or cares we have. So anxiety is unnecessary for the believer! God is willing and able to make a difference as we pray!

2]. ANXIETY CAN BE OVERCOME. The steps to follow. 

Philippians 4:6 continues, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

a]. We need to share our concerns with God.  “but in everything … let your requests be made known to God.”

Paul commands that our concerns should lead to requests to God for His help. “Requests” are  [aitemata αἰτήματα]. Requests are expressions indicating that we need assistance in some way. So in letting our requests be known to God we are acquainting Him with the concerns we have with the view to receiving His help. In a very real sense it is the same as we saw in our previous article No.397 where Peter writes, “Cast all your burdens on the Lord and He will sustain you.” We are to make our requests known to God [Philippians 4:6], so that He may take the burdens from us. 

b}. We share our concerns in 3 ways.

“but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.”

“Prayer” [proseuchē; προσευχή] is used 35 times in the ESV version of the New Testament and is the usual word for prayer directed to God. 

“Supplication” [deēsis; δέησις]. This is the request for particular benefits from God for oneself or for others. It is for specific help for expressed needs asking God to supply our need.

“With Thanksgiving” [eucharistia; εὐχαριστία]. This is the word used to describe the Lord’s Supper as the “Eucharist” as it is a Thanksgiving service remembering all that Christ has done for us in His death, resurrection, ascension and His sending of the Holy Spirit upon all believers. There is certainly a great place for giving thanks to God for answered prayer. All answers to prayer stem from the grace and love of God in caring for His followers, and His desire to meet their needs.   

However there may be a deeper meaning here as well. We are giving thanks to God for the fact that God is willing to hear our prayers. But we are also thanking Him for the answers we will eventually receive from Him. Matthew records Jesus as saying, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” This puts the receiving of answers as being assured, but coming in the future.Matthew 21:22. {Matthew uses the same words as Paul in Philippians 4:6, namely, [aiteo] for ask or request and [proseuchē] for prayer.}

 However Mark has slightly different wording, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24. What that seems to indicate is that believing prayer brings immediate answers to prayer. But the actual reception of those answers will be in the future, literally ”it will be to you.”

What a relief it is to know that believing prayer according to the will of God brings immediate answers to prayer. But the timing of the reception of those answers will be in the future. Sometimes those answers are immediate, surprising us with their speed and completeness. At other times we see a gradual releasing of those answers as the situation gradually improves or the health of the sick person for whom we have prayed, gradually improves. At other times the improvement comes in significant stages after we have prayed. They are all answers to prayer by the grace and mercy of God who heals in His way, in His time and through whom He wishes. 

3]. GOD’S PEACE CAN BE EXPERIENCED IN HUMAN HEARTS. Philippians 4:7.

“… And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“

“Peace” is a wonderful feeling to experience. But especially is the “peace of God” a wonderful gift to receive. It is part of the nine-fold gifts of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22] but can be experienced at any time in the believer’s life.  As we have just seen, it can come as we make our requests to God in prayer and learn to trust Him for the answers to come in His way and in His time.

We notice here 2 things about the peace of God.

a]. God’s peace is beyond human understanding. 

It has to be experienced to be believed. God’s peace is much more than the absence of strife. It is the sure and serene hope we have when we hand our situations over to God in believing prayer. Outwardly there may not appear to be any change in the situation we brought to God in prayer, but we can experience a deep sense of internal peace knowing God is on our case and will bring an answer beyond the limits of our rational thinking.

b]. God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The word “guard” had a special significance for the people in Philippi. It is the Greek word [phroureō; φρουρέω]. It could be used to describe the protection the inhabitants of Philippi enjoyed knowing that Philippi was a Roman garrison city. The city was always protected by the soldiers of the Roman empire.  The inhabitants could rest secure in the knowledge they were protected day and night and could never be surprised by sudden attacks upon them by foreign forces. 

That is the significance of the word for “guard” here. As the citizens knew peace because of the protecting Roman garrison, so believers could know peace by the peace of God they could experience inwardly as they handed their concerns over to God in prayer. 

SUMMING UP

One of the earliest terms I heard as a new Christian was this one, “When in a fix, Philippians 4:6.” I soon learned to understand the meaning behind the term as I found myself in difficult situations over the years. That led me to studying the promises of God in answer to prayer and experiencing a real sense of the peace of God as I made known my requests to Him and cast my burdens upon Him. The truths of Philippians 4:6 as I have applied them, have certainly made anxiety disappear.

Blog No.398. posted on Monday 07 March 2022

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in Bible verses. Comments, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Mental Health, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, STUDIES IN PHILIPPIANS and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 398. BE ANXIOUS! FOR NOTHING! GOD SAYS! Philippians 4:6-7

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