“Fear not?” Right. Got that. Now it’s time for something harder: “Fret not.”
Truth is, I’m a world-class worrier. I worry about not finishing something on time. (Oh, you know. Like a blog post.) Then I worry no one will like it. If they do like it, I worry they won’t like the next one.
Been there? There now? This verse is definitely for you.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
Yes, we know this one. Heard it a million times. (Okay, at least a hundred.)
“Don’t worry. Be prayer-y.”
What I’m after are the words tucked inside this verse that unlock the secret of how to stop fretting.
Paula, one of many who chose this verse, confessed, “When our son was making some seriously unwise choices in life, I breathed in and out with this verse, so I wouldn’t come undone in the waiting.”
Following her good example, let’s take a deep breath and dive in.
“Do not be anxious…” Philippians 4:6
It reads like a command. “Do not fret” (AMP). “Never worry” (GW). Already I’m in trouble, because (big surprise) I don’t like someone telling me what to do. The best bosses I ever had were the ones who told me what they wanted, yet made me think it was my idea.
If that’s you, relax. God seldom asks us to do anything without showing us how and telling us why, not to mention giving us the strength we’ll need to follow through.
“…about anything,…” Philippians 4:6
Clearly, God doesn’t want one thing left on our Stuff To Worry About list. “Nothing must make you anxious” (KNOX), he says. And that Greek word, médeis, literally means “not even one.”
What’s the biggest concern you have in your life right now? That huge thing that’s pressing on your heart 24/7? God says not to worry about that.
Right. Not even that. Wow.
“…but…” Philippians 4:6
Sounds kinda negative, yet it’s simply telling us what the alternative is to worrying, fretting, and being anxious. “Instead” (NET), “rather” (CEB), “on the contrary” (CJB), here’s what happens when we go with God’s plan, even in the midst of life’s challenges.
“…in every situation,…” Philippians 4:6
Every is one of those words you can’t get around. Not some, not most. “Every circumstance” (AMP), the Lord assures us. “Every need” (KNOX). However long our list of worries, God is already there. He’s “in all things” (GNV).
A prodigal child? An alcoholic spouse? An empty bank account? A frightening report from the doctor? Yes, all those situations. Hard, hard, hard, but not too hard for God.
Nothing is too simple for God either. Every and all tells us he can handle the little stuff too. Suzanne, who also chose this verse as her favorite, knows that whatever we’re worried about, “God wants to hear about it, no matter how small or trivial it may be.”
“…by prayer and petition,…” Philippians 4:6
In the Greek, proseuché means interactive prayer. Not just talking, but also listening. If you can find one minute to pray, take another minute to wait for the Lord’s response. Just. One. Minute.
The second word, petition, sounds like a legal term: “Here, sign this petition.” What it really means is seeking, asking, entreating, “beseeching” (KNOX). To put it simply, “ask and pray” (NIRV). Rather than fretting and fussing, “shape your worries into prayers” (MSG).
Now, here’s the hidden key that sets us free.
“…with thanksgiving,…” Philippians 4:6
Even while we’re asking and praying, we’re already thanking God for listening and answering. We’re also thanking him for “all he has done” (NLT) in the past, all he is doing right now, and all he is going to do in the future.
Faith, beloved. Faith enables us to pray “with a thankful heart” (GNT).
If you’re looking for something meaningful to post on Facebook or Twitter, this sums up our lesson from the Lord perfectly: “Do not worry about anything. Talk to God about everything. Thank him for what you have. Ask him for what you need.” (Philippians 4:6 WE)
“…present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
It’s also translated “ask” (NCV) and “tell” (NIRV), but the verb “present” helps us imagine handing over our needs to the Lord like gifts. Neatly boxed and wrapped in ribbons, if you like.
You and I know how it works with gifts. You can’t take them back.
No matter how ugly those worries look to you, God will gladly take them out of your hands. “He longs to hear your requests” (VOICE), so don’t hesitate to tell him everything. “Make your wants known to God” (AMP). Yes, “every detail of your needs” (PHILLIPS).
Your concerns are not a burden to him. They are not a nuisance. They are beautiful gifts of faith and trust and gratitude.
These are for you, Lord. Thank you taking them.
He is both a giver of gifts and a receiver of requests. That’s how and why we can fret not. A huge relief, yes?
Some translations end this verse with a semi-colon or a comma, meaning there’s more good news to come. I’m including those comforting words here, so we get the happy ending: peace.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Now it’s your turn
Back to that huge thing that’s pressing on your heart 24/7. What will it take for you to gift-wrap that situation and give it to God, knowing it’s in very good hands? And how might your sisters pray for you through the process?
To share your thoughts, just click on “The 20 Verses You Love Most” at the top of your email, which will take you to my website blog. Then include your response under Post a Comment at the bottom. Bless you for taking a moment to add your voice to the conversation.
Next time we’ll step back into the Old Testament and unpack #7 of the verses you love. This beauty would make my own Top 10 list. Oh baby. Get ready.
Your sister, Liz