6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: “Do not be anxious about anything” is Christ’s own warning about worry. “True prayer and anxious care cannot coexist”: The way to be anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything.

Date: 6/25/19

Lesson #31

Title: Through Prayer, Let The Peace Of God Guard Your Hearts From Anxiety

“Special Notes” and “Scripture” are shown as endnotes.

NIV Bible is used throughout unless noted otherwise.

Scripture: (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (face-to-face with God).

“Do not be anxious about anything” is Christ’s own warning about worry (Matt. 6:25; Luke 12:22). What follows reads like a practical comment on the subject of prayer, which says in effect: “True prayer and anxious care cannot coexist”: The way to be anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything. The word “prayer” represents our general approach to God in prayer; “supplication,” the cry of personal need. With these, “when we let our requests be known to God,” should go “thanksgiving.” If they pray in this way, Paul promises, “the peace of God{3], which passes all understanding”?transcends all our comprehension ? “will keep (literally “garrison”) their “hearts” and “minds.” He ends with the phrase “in Christ Jesus,” as though to say, “Outside Him there is no safety.”

“Do not be anxious about anything” is a command. To be anxious is always a sin, because anxiety is a sign of a lack of faith (Rom. 14:23). God is our loving and all-powerful heavenly Father. He will take care of His children (1 Pe. 5:7). We are not to worry. The paragraph began with joy; it ends with peace. Is Paul saying that if we do not have God’s peace in our hearts we cannot have His song on our lips?

Paul’s familiarity with the teaching of his Lord is shown in this warning against being distracted by anxiety (6; Matt. 6:25-34). For the Philippians’ life was bound to be a worrying thing. Even to be a human being and to be vulnerable to all the chances and changes of this mortal life is in itself a worrying thing; and in the Early Church, to the normal worry of the human situation there was added the worry of being a Christian which meant taking one’s life in one’s hands. Paul’s solution is prayer. Instead of yielding to such distressful concern, the Philippians are to commit everything, sorrows and joys alike, to God in prayer. As they lay their specific requests before God, they are to make their supplication with thanksgiving for past mercies and present blessings (Col. 4:2); and both for the fact we can pray and present our petitions to the Lord, and for the assurance that God will hear and answer prayer. Prayer is by faith, thanking God in advance that He will hear and answer our prayers. After reading verse 6 and the explanation given thus far someone might want to know the difference between prayer, supplication, and requests. Prayer is the devout address made to God in general, supplication is the specific appeal for help, and request the particular petition made.

The result for committing everything to God in prayer will be that not only will God respond to our prayers, but the immediate result will be that the intercessor will receive “the peace of God.” This is something more than having peace with God, referring to the position of a Christian in Christ, which is true of all true Christians. Here the reference is to the experience of this peace, a peace which is characteristic of God Himself, referred to by Christ in the words, “Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). But the peace is also from God, a Fruit of the Spirit and a work of God in the here and now.

Because many pray to God amiss, with complaints and murmurings, as though they had just ground for accusing Him, while others cannot put up with delay if He does not immediately obey their wishes.

Paul joins thanksgiving with prayers. Every prayer must surely include thanks for the great privilege of prayer itself. It is as though he had said that those things that are necessary for us ought to be desired from the Lord in such a way that we nevertheless subject our affections to His will, and give thanks while asking. And unquestionably, gratitude and perfect submission to the will of God will have the effect upon us that the will of God will be the chief sum of our desires. It is only when we are fully convinced that God is working all things together for good that we can really feel toward Him the perfect gratitude which believing prayer demands.

When we pray we must always remember three things. We must remember the love of God, which always desires what is best for us. We must remember the wisdom of God, which alone knows what is best for us. We must remember the power of God, which alone can bring to pass that which is best for us. He who prays with a perfect trust in the love, wisdom, and power of God will find God’s peace, that is, the peace that passes all understanding. That does not mean that the peace of God is such a mystery that the mind of man cannot understand it, although that also is true. It means that the peace of God is so precious that man’s mind, with all its skill and all its knowledge, can never produce it. It can never be of man’s contriving; it is only of God’s giving. The way to peace is in prayer to entrust ourselves and all whom we hold dear to the loving hands of God.

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