Be careful for nothing

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Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7

In these verses, the apostle exhorts us to not be a person who is full of care, weighed down by the burdens of this life, anxious. In fact, the apostle is saying, don't let anything bring you into this condition. But wait, we might respond, what about all the things we are going through that overwhelm us and frighten us and stress us out? We are apt to think that this is good advice for someone else, but it doesn't apply to me! However, if we read this verse and take it at face value, it literally says that there is no situation ("nothing") we can face that necessitates a response of anxiety on our part.

But how do we get that way? Well, I don't think it is necessarily automatic; this is something we all have to learn and grow into. The apostle later will talk about learning the secret of how to abound and how to be in need (ver. 12). There are some things we just have to learn; but learn them we can, because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (ver. 13).

The key thought here is that we get this way by learning how to bring everything to God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving (ver. 6). It is only as we bring everything to God that we will learn to be anxious for nothing. So how do you get this way? By becoming a person of prayer.

However, it is important to notice the way that prayer works. Sometimes you will hear an argument for prayer in terms of its inherent psychological benefits. But this is not what Paul is saying here; he is not arguing for a kind of self-manipulation. Rather, he is saying that when we bring our needs to God, he hears us, and will himself respond by bringing us "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding." Since this is peace that passes understanding (this is of course referring to our understanding) this is not peace we conjure up, but peace which is given to us by the sovereign grace of God. This is the kind of peace we need; indeed, it is the only kind of peace which "shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Let us not miss those last words: "through Christ Jesus." For it is only through Christ that we can approach the Father. It is only through the grace of our Lord that God's throne becomes for us a throne of mercy. It is only because of what Christ did on the cross and the fact that God raised him from the dead that we can have any hope that God hears us with favor and grace. In other words, our praying should be gospel praying, by which we approach the Father through the Spirit on the basis of the atoning work of Christ on our behalf.

My friend, the Bible is true. Let us therefore bring our burdens to the Lord, and we will find that he will surely and sufficiently sustain us.

By: Jeremiah Bass