Don’t Be Anxious For Anything
What is the meaning of Philippians 4:6? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”
If discouragement over the problems addressed in the letter (or anything else) was robbing the Philippians of joy, then Paul gives the solution in Philippians 4:6. There is no need to fret and worry about the way things are. The solution is to give the problems over to the Only One who can actually do something about them. The Philippians are to pray in every situation, bringing their petitions (requests) to God and offering prayers of thanksgiving for what God has already done.
When we have problems and worries, we often forget to pray about them. Then, when we do pray, we may think that the only help that God can give is to grant the request as we have presented it and change the situation. God may very well do that. He has the power to change any situation, but He will not be limited to that. God does not promise to change every situation to our liking. What He does promise to do is give us peace during any situation. In other words, God may or may not change the circumstance, but He will change our disposition toward it so that it does not cause us inner turmoil.
Practically speaking, Philippians 4:6 gives us a model for the kind of prayer we need to pray when we are anxious or worried. First, we reject worry: do not be anxious about anything. Then, we simply ask God for what we need: in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And we thank Him for all that He has already done: with thanksgiving. Finally, we rest, knowing that He loves us and will work things out for our good and His glory. God’s peace is then ours.
Living By Faith
When Paul says, “The life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me,” he means: “Moment by moment I feel confidence that the love which moved Jesus to the cross for me is also moving him now to work in my circumstances for my good.” That’s why Paul could say, “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). He believed in the present power and goodness of God and so he was not in haste: no frenzy, no jitters.
Haste makes waste. Waste of peace. Waste of health. Waste of joy. The Lord is never in haste for he has all things under control. What a steady power should mark his people! We dishonor him by our fretful hurrying. The children of the king do not panic when they lose their keys.
Anxiety Can Be a Spiritual as well as a Mental Health Issue
Anxiety is not that simple because it often misunderstood to be simply that a person is stressing too much. There is a distinct difference between the sin of anxiety and the mental health disorder of anxiety that is characterized by physical changes in the brain. Anxiety is both a mental health issue and a spiritual issue.
Billy Graham once said: “At its best, anxiety distracts us from our relationship with God and the truth that He is “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25). At its worst, anxiety is a crippling disease, taking over our minds and plunging our thoughts into darkness.”
The Bible goes on to tell us in the book in Philippians chapter 4, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The first step to becoming free of anxiety is to give your life to Jesus Christ. Once you’ve taken this step, the next is to practice fixing your thoughts on Christ and his promises. (John 14:2-3). In the battlefield of our minds, we are to practice awareness of our thoughts and take them captive.
Anxiety crops up when we least expect it. It happens when we’ve put too much on our plates. When we pile on the hustle, the busy, the doing, the too much, the too many yeses. Our body doesn’t know any other way but to say no. And our bodies shut down in ways we don’t expect. God didn’t design us to hustle 24-7. He designed us to Be Still and Know. To ‘Be still’ means to rest in God’s presence. This verse wasn’t written in the context of taking a spa day. It was written in the context of war. The meaning of the Psalm means to: stop, cease striving and stop fighting. It means to acknowledge who our God is and be in awe of him. Daily we should learn to be still before our Lord. It keeps the world from spinning off its axis within our minds. That means to become un-busy, to not hustle. We are to prioritize our time with Him and listen to what our bodies need. Rest, exercise, a good bedtime routine, getting eight hours of sleep, and consume healing foods. This is how we war against the battle of anxiety.
How to Overcome Fear, Anxiety and Worry
Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us. —Billy Graham. When Billy Graham wrote those words in 1965, no one knew how true they would be 50 years later.
At its best, anxiety distracts us from our relationship with God and the truth that He is “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25). At its worst, anxiety is a crippling disease, taking over our minds and plunging our thoughts into darkness.
But God wants so much more for us than to walk through life full of fear, worry and anxiety.
“Do not be anxious about anything,” the Bible tells us in the book of Philippians, chapter 4, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Our instructions don’t stop there. The chapter goes on to tell believers exactly what we should focus on. And it’s not fear, terrorism, illness, death or evil.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9, ESV, emphasis added).
The first step to an anxiety-free mind is to give your life to Jesus Christ. Once you’ve taken that step, it’s important to fix your thoughts on Jesus and the promise that He is preparing a place for His followers in heaven (John 14:2-3).
Scriptures on Anxiety and Fear
- Hebrews 13:6
- Philippians 4:6-7
- Psalm 34:4
- Psalm 42:5
- Matthew 6:34
- 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
- Psalm 23:1-6
- 1 Peter 5:5-7
- Revelation 21:4
When believers live only for food, clothes, etc., they debase themselves to being like animals. Life becomes all about serving our physical body. Really that is what most advertising is about: “Eat this!” Wear this! Watch this!” It is all about making the body attractive, pleasant smelling, comfortable, and entertained. Christ later says the pagans worry about these things (v. 32). Their primary concerns are temporal matters—not eternal ones—and they live in a constant rat race to fulfill those desires. However, believers are citizens, not only of this earth, but of heaven. Therefore, we must be primarily concerned about the affairs of heaven, even as we abide on the earth. Christ emphasizes this in Matthew 6:33 when he says seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness.
Focus on the Eternal
To overcome worry, we must focus on eternal matters—like becoming holy, seeing others saved, growing, and building God’s kingdom. Col 3:1-4 says: “Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him.”
Often the way you conquer a passion is by focusing on a greater passion. To focus on earthly matters like riches and basic needs will always breed worry and anxiety. Focusing on eternal matters delivers us from those worries and brings God’s peace.
Worry does not benefit us physically, mentally, or spiritually. Proverbs says anxiety in the heart of a man brings depression (Prov 12:25). Typically, we start to worry about something, and it affects our entire mood (and often that of others). Next, we find ourselves down and discouraged. Worry also negatively affects us spiritually. In Matthew 13:22 (NIV), in the Parable of the Sowers, Christ describes the seed sown upon thorny ground as “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” When we are constantly worrying, it hinders our ability to receive God’s Word and apply it to our lives. No doubt, there are many in the church who listen to their favorite pastor’s podcasts every week, read all the new latest Christian books, and yet their labor profits them nothing. Worry stunts their spiritual growth.
Some have counted over 3,000 promises in Scripture, and Matthew 6:33 is one of the greatest. Christ promises the disciples that if they made God’s kingdom and his righteousness their chief priority, all their needs would be met. The word “pursue” is a present imperative meaning that this must be one’s unceasing quest, not an occasional endeavor.5 When God’s kingdom and righteousness are our priority, God meets our needs, which ultimately delivers us from fear and worry.
When we pursue God’s kingdom and his righteousness, God meets our needs, which implies the opposite of this promise is also true. When we don’t pursue his kingdom, but instead neglect God and enjoy the world and sin, we will often lack. As in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, God often allows his wayward children to go away from him, enjoy sin, and reap the consequences of it. He allows them to experience lack until they come to their senses and return home (Luke 15).
If we pray in every situation, if we bring our petitions (requests) before God in every situation, and if we give thanks in every situation, God will give us his peace. Worry often overwhelms us because we are not people of prayer—people who constantly pray in every situation. We pray only when things are bad and not when they are good. Or we pray when things are good and get mad at God when they are bad. Or we don’t pray at all. This type of person will lack peace. Sometimes we lack peace because we fail to bring our petitions before the Lord. We don’t ask for peace; we don’t ask for reconciliation in a difficult relationship. In addition, we don’t give thanks in all things. Instead we complain, worry, and get angry. We can’t receive God’s promise of peace in those situations.
Chapter 25 Questions
- Page 187: Describe what it looks like to “ live at God’s pace ? How do we achieve this ”pace“?
- Page 188: Discuss the difference between godly concern and sinful anxiety ?
- Discuss the Mathematical formulas:
- Concern + unbelief = anxiety
- Concern + faith = biblical virtue
- Page 189-190: Discuss “the four reasons“ Thrasher discovered that God wanted him to experience His peace. Share thoughts , experiences.
- Page 191-193: Discuss insights/thoughts on Thrasher’s sections on how to experience God’s peace .
- Share scripture verses, modifications to your life to decrease anxiety, and experiences in dealing with anxiety in your life.