I remember the slogan from my youth. “When you are in a fix, look up Philippians 4:6,” so just do it! Here is the command: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (ESV).
The Message Bible says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.” “When you are in a fix, often the fix is in you” (Ashok Kallarakkal). And since Christ is in you, I can go along with that.
Using the artful aid of alliteration, the precept is to worry about nothing. The prescription is prayer and petition with thanksgiving to God. The promise is peace (verse 7).
The precept is not lengthy or difficult to understand. We all have challenges, problems, difficulties in our earthly life. The command is short and to the point: “Don’t fret or worry.” Just stop worrying; that’s the imperative in the prohibition. As a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20), the King will always look after us wherever we are, unlike some modern countries some of us live in. So remember who you are.
The prescription to apply is prayer — fellowship and devotion between a child and his parent. Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is the way of a Father with his family. Prayer and God’s Word are simply the ways that we have communication within the family.
It is a time when we talk to God; we tell him all about the wonderful things we’ve doing, all the everyday incidents of life, and then we listen to what He has to say; it is worship and devotion. So the prescription is to talk to the Head of the country of which you are a citizen about your cares.
I like that prescription. That’s good. Just put it in everyday language. If you’ve got a problem and you know that you could just pick up the phone at any time and talk to the head of the country about it, you would feel a little bit more confident, especially if he was on your side of the political fence. Wouldn’t you?
“In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” — already thanking God for the answer that you already have, thanking God for the supply of your need that is already yours. This is the prescription. This is why you don’t get worried or anxious.
I remember once preaching on “Why Pray When You Can Worry?” and I’m sure the title was just a tease for a teaching based upon this verse. Who needs to be worried or anxious when you are on talking terms with the boss? You’re on a good thing. Let your requests be made known unto God.
It is not the length of time; it is not the loudness; it is not even the words you say. There is no proper way to pray. Pray as you’re going along in the car while you’re by yourself. I do it when I’m looking for a parking spot I say “OK, Lord, where is it?”
Prayer with thanksgiving is the prescription. I’ll say “Thank you, Father,” and just have that continual time of speech with God. That’s the prescription. If you want to get rid of worry, stop doing it and start talking to God about it, and you’ll find the issue will get better.
And then the promise. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (ESV). The peace of God, not peace with God, because Philippians is already written to Christians, and they have made their peace with God.
It’s the peace of God, the peace from God, which is already within you. Paul’s description of it is that it surpasses all our understanding. The peace of God “that is superior to every frame of mind” (CLV). It’s just so so incredible, so fantastic. It says it will keep your hearts and minds.
“Will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I love that because the word “guard” (keep, KJV) is a military term, and here Paul is under house arrest with guards outside. They made sure he stayed home, but allowed visitors in and out. This military term was very much on his mind because every day, all day there was a Roman soldier visible, keeping him where he should be.
Some translations have “will garrison your heart” which has that military thought. Shall guard your heart, stand guard over it. And all these thoughts give us the impact of what God is doing for us here. The peace of God is standing guard over your heart and mind.
The promise is that that peace of God will keep guard over your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. So now you can go through life without a worry. You can go through life knowing that God is with you wherever you are and that he wants the best for you, that he’s given you the power to bring that best into manifestation in your life, You can go down the street as if you own one side and you’re thinking about buying the other. Beautiful!
That’s the God we have. Is this pie in the sky religion? No, I believe it’s intensely practical if you will put it work. It works when you make it work. So when you’re in a fix, look up Philippians 4:6.
Adapted from the forthcoming book I’m Excited About Philippians by Peter Wade.
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