“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing 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).
The Sin of Worry
Did you ever find yourself worrying? Do you know that Scripture calls worry a sin? When you realized that you were worrying, did you go to God and confess it as a sin? Worry is just as much a sin as adultery, or murder, or theft. Yet how often we as believers treat it lightly when we find our stomachs tied in knots because we have worried ourselves into a nervous frenzy.
The apostle Paul was just as much concerned about the sin of worry as he was about any other sin that pursues God’s children. He began his instruction on the subject with a command: “Be careful for nothing.” The word translated “be careful” has in it the idea of an anxious, distressing care. It is the kind of worry that puts a crease in our brows. It is the kind of care the makes us irritable and hard to get along with. The command is given, “Do not under any circumstance worry about anything.”
The Solution to Worry
After the apostle gives us the command, he shows us the solution. “But [instead of worry] in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Making our requests known to God is the same as committing them to the Lord or letting our burden roll off our shoulders into the hands of God. The solution to worry is trust. Faith believes God is capable of bearing what we cannot, and counts Him faithful to bear it if we give Him the opportunity.
When Paul exhorts the child of God to use prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, he is bringing several ideas together. The word translated “prayer” has to do with presenting our desires or wishes to God, with a conscious dependence upon Him to fulfill His responsibility toward us.
Paul next says that we should offer “supplication.” Supplication concerns a specific request for special needs. Paul is saying that to be relieved of worry we ought to move in our praying from the general to the specific. How often we pray, “God, bless me today. Bless my loved ones,” and that is as specific as we ever get. The antidote to worry is to recognize a specific need, put yourself in a place of dependence upon God, and expect Him to do something about that very thing.
Paul also says that we should offer “thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving looks back to previous answers to prayer and demonstrations of God’s goodness, giving thanks because He has worked in similar situations before. Confidence for the future is based on what God has done in the past.
God’s Substitute to Worry
And now we have a promise: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds.” It is not natural, it is not understandable that a child of God can live with the peace of God in his heart in the midst of today’s many problems. But it is true. The apostle gives the promise that, when we cast everything that would cause us concern into the hands of God, the peace of God shall stand guard duty over our hearts and minds.
What the apostle is describing here is not so much delivering the mind after it has become obsessed with worry. Rather, he is promising that the mind will be kept from worry, because that which normally would cause concern is immediately transferred to the shoulder of One who is able to bear it for us.
We can live without worry, and without fear, and without anxiety, and without nervous exhaustion, and without frustration—but not without God’s help. We must let our worries roll off on God, and He will deliver us from worry.
—From The Joy of Living by Dwight J. Pentecost.
To act out the principle of turning prayers over to God, we took a paper bag, wrote “God” on it, and taped it up high on the back of our kitchen door. As I prayed, I would write down each concern on a piece of paper. Then those pieces of paper would go in the bag. The rule was that if you start worrying about a matter of prayer that you’ve turned over to God, you have to climb up on a chair and fish it out of the bag. I don’t want to admit how much time I spent sifting through those scraps of paper. —David Mackenzie