Philippians 4:6-7 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is a favorite passage of mine. I notice it is quoted and used often among Christian circles. However, many stop short on teachings or thoughts at verse 6. Verse 7 has such power that it is hard to get the whole of this passage without it. This passage is loaded with so many nuggets. I could write multiple devotional thoughts just around these few words.
The first and obvious part of this passage is about anxiety. “Do not be anxious about anything…” Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25ff) tells his disciples to not worry. He goes on to explain that God will provide whatever is needed. Paul echoes this in this passage. The key and convicting word in this phrase is ‘anything’. Wow, I understand about worry and anxiety but to not be anxious about ‘anything’ is difficult. I come from a family of worriers. I carry worry in my heart often. This one strikes close to home for me.
We are told to not be anxious about anything. What is comforting about this passage is what we are told to do with ‘everything’. Present everything to God. Everything? Yes, everything. Through prayer, petition and thanksgiving, lay it all before God. This does not mean always we get what we request. It does mean that we have placed it all under the one who knows what to do with it and what is best for us. As a friend once told me, “God cares about what we care about.”
This is where I add verse 7 to the study. What is so powerful about verse 7 is what happens when we lay everything before God. We gain peace about whatever God will do with our requests. This peace is beyond understanding and guards us. The peace is the key to helping with the anxiety. For me, laying it before God gives me a peace that in the end I know it will be good. Many times in my worry, underneath the worry, I still find peace that something bigger is work in my life. That something bigger (or someone bigger) is God.
This peace brings me back to the thankfulness from verse 6. I can lay my anxieties before him through prayer and petition, thankful that he is at work through the whole situation. I have heard it said, “God will not give you more than you can handle.” I do not find that to be true. I can write a whole other article on the basis of that belief but for now I want to go this route: God may allow us more than we can handle so that He may be glorified that He is the one who carries us through whatever the situation. This passage tells that no matter the situation (everything) be thankful and recognize the peace that comes with the thankfulness.
I am convinced that at times anxiety and worry about a situation stems from the fact that I cannot control the situation. Turning over control causes worry and anxiety. This passage is helpful to me to remind me that I really do not want to be in control. The one who knows what is best is in control. That is the source of peace I need to get me past my anxiety. I hope that is true for you as well.
1. What feelings come up for you when you read this passage?
2. From this passage, what is true about you?
3. What are your thoughts about bringing “everything” to God, big or small?
4. What are the hardest anxieties or worries for you when it comes to turning it over to God?
5. This week, pay attention to what you turn over to God. Challenge yourself through prayers to present everything with thanksgiving to God.
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