In recent days, from time to time, I have found my heart being very anxious about our church’s building fund. Our desire and prayers have been that God will provide 5 million dollars, the fund needed to purchase a suitable venue for our church’s activities. The need for such a place is very dire, knowing that such a place is urgently needed for next year’s activities. However, we have only been able to collect about $1.4 million to date. With just about 45 days left, anxiety does assail my heart!
But praise be unto God, He has not left me without His gracious peace. His Spirit reminds me of His promises, His past works, His faithfulness, etc., which give me peace and assurance that He will see that all needs shall be supplied.
The exhortation in Philippians 4:6 is of particular help to all His children who encounter anxious moments. If we follow the divine counsel in this passage, we will all be able to withstand the attack of anxiety and overcome it. Please consider the exhortation based on Philippians 4:6 – “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
“Be careful for nothing”
Well, that is an old way of saying “be not anxious about anything”. The Greek word (merimnáō) translated “careful” does not indicate that we should not exercise care in carrying out our responsibilities. The same word is used to teach us to care for one another (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:25). We are also taught in the Scriptures to provide for our families (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8). The advice here is that we should free our minds from anxiety and worry.
An incessant concern for our temporal affairs is an evil that we should avoid. Firstly, it expresses lack of faith in God’s goodness and mercy. Anxiety proceeds from a heart that refuses to accept God’s good providence. Our Lord Jesus has assured us, saying, “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:32). Jesus also warned that to worry about daily necessities of life is to be like the Gentiles who know not the goodness of our God (cf. Matthew 6:32a). Let us not dishonour our God by worrying about our needs, our responsibilities, our troubles, etc. Anxiety equals distrust of God’s care for His own people. Anxiety is a sin, for it refuses to trust God’s gracious and good providence.
Secondly, the evil of anxiety is also seen in its effects on oneself. Anxiety will lead to self-destructive conduct and attitudes. Anxiety weakens a person physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. An anxious mind produces nothing good, only added trouble. Anxiety causes a person to be unhappy, moody, grumpy, illtempered and depressed. It has even turned some into maniacs! Anxiety is also known to cause severe physical trauma, resulting in migraine, body aches, vomiting, diarrhoea, high blood pressure, etc. Worse still, many have abandoned Christ because of their anxiety for material gain. Jesus said in Mark 4:19, “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Anxiety will cause a person to be self-focused and worldly-minded.
One’s anxiety can also affect those who are around him. Obsessive mannerism caused by anxiety had wrecked many relationships and filled homes with unhappiness and quarrels. So let us cast off anxiety from our hearts. Whenever it assaults us, let us go to the LORD in prayer, and take hold of all His promises. Get rid of anxiety, and be more cheerful and productive by the grace and knowledge of the LORD.
“But in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Herein we have the remedy to the terrible malady of anxiety. Prayer helps us to battle anxiety and get rid of it from our hearts. By praying to God, we can repress anxiety. Prayer frees us from anxiety.
Prayer is the expression of our faith in the Lord. We tell the Lord all our needs and troubles in prayer because we trust in His help, which He has promised. When we pray, we affirm that God cares for us, and that His care for us is the best. Every praying man declares that no one ever cares for him like his God. When the heart is taught to believe in the good providence of God and encouraged to express that faith by communing with God in prayer, anxiety will naturally be resisted and driven out.
We are instructed that “in every thing” we must pray. “Don’t be anxious about anything, but pray about everything!” is the divine counsel. There are some who pray only when great needs or troubles come upon them. If we do not pray in everything, even what appears to be a “small matter” can fill our heart with anxiety and wreck our peace. Nothing is too small to destabilise our life; hence, nothing is too small to bring to God. If we are ready to believe that nothing is too great for God to care for, then let us also believe that nothing is too small for us to confide in Him. God, who made this gigantic universe, also cares for the tiny sparrows.
Prayer is the soul’s believing and reverential approach unto God. It consists of supplication, thanksgiving, etc. The word “prayer” denotes general prayer, which is a humble and reverential approach to God for help. The word “supplication” denotes a plea for a specific matter, thus expressing one’s craving for divine supply in his life. The word “thanksgiving” denotes grateful expressions of joy and confidence in God which honours and pleases God.
It is with thanksgiving that we ought to make our requests known to God. A prayer without thanksgiving is a selfish prayer. Can it be right to pray for benefits and never honour our Benefactor? Thanksgiving will prevent us from being preoccupied with our wants, and it will fill our minds with the praise of our benevolent God. Do not offer a formal prayer to submit a wish list. Let your prayers be “perfumed” with praise. In our sufferings, let us sing His praise and pray. Take the hymn book and sing as you pray.
To all who pray with thanksgiving, God assures: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Though unfathomable to men, the praying Christian shall experience the powerful work of God’s peace. His peace shall protect us from being wrecked by anxiety and its foolish ways.