Philippiansby David Sanford
Some believers find this verse encouraging, while others don't. The difference lies in how they experience prayer. How can we experience it the way Paul describes it here? Let's consider each phrase of this verse in turn.
″Do not be anxious . . .″ What is the answer to feelings of fear, concern, or anxiety? Paul tells us to stop worrying-by always praying with thanksgiving to God. Yes, it takes discipline. It calls for intentional recitation and meditation on this verse, especially in stressful circumstances. But, it works. When we desire reconciliation with a family member. When we wait on a key decision at church or work. When we lie still for a lengthy test in a hospital scanner or imager.
″. . . about anything, but in every situation . . .″ Should we pray daily about whom we will meet? Paul says God wants us to pray ″in every situation″, so if it's in your heart and mind, pray about it. Yes, God already knows about it, but He wants you to lay it before Him humbly, in complete surrender. Jesus could have healed the blind, the leprous, and the deathly ill at the start of each new week. Instead, He waited to be asked. His question was, ″What do you want me to do for you?″ (see 1 Kings 3:5; 2 Chronicles 1:7; Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:36, 51; Luke 18:41). Imagine the Lord asking you that question. In a sense, He already has. How will you answer Him?
″. . . by prayer and petition . . .″ Every day, I ponder on this: God the Father loves to hear prayers and petitions. First, the prayers of Jesus (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1). Second, the petitions of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27). Third, the prayers of believers in heaven (Revelation 5:8, 13; 6:9-11; 7:9-10; 8:3-4). Fourth, the petitions of our Christian family members, friends, and acquaintances on earth. Not only that, but God the Father also loves to answer these prayers, just as He answers mine. When we remember how God loves to hear our petitions and answer them, we're motivated to pray more.
″. . . with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.″ As we go to God humbly, we cannot help thanking Him. After all, He is always at work in our midst (John 5:17). When we pray, therefore, we thank God in advance for His answers. Thanksgiving often inspires greater faith, hope, joy, and peace in our hearts. So thank God-often!
List previous answers to your prayers. Select one item from your list. Write a brief prayer of thanksgiving to God for His answer.
List what makes you anxious these days. Using Paul's model in today's verse, write a brief prayer about one item of concern.