Last week, we started talking about stress. Our culture thinks it’s fine for us to be stressed out of our minds. God doesn’t. I like His plan better.
The main part of His plan is outlined in Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV): Do not be anxious about anything, 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.
Today, we’re going to look at the little phrases in these verses that have really made a huge difference in my life.
- In everything
- By prayer
- And supplication
- With thanksgiving
Before we get started, notice that all of the prepositional phrases in Philippians 4:6 modify “let your requests be made known.” They’re all talking about the particulars of how we tell God about our struggles, our issues, and our anxieties.
The key to not being stressed is to tell God about our problems in these specific ways:
1. “In everything”
This first phrase is easy to overlook. We are to tell God what is going on in everything –– not just the things we’re stressed about, not just the things we feel are out of our control, not just the one that pushes us over the limit, but in everything. In other words, I’m not handing God one of my problems; I’m handing Him them all.
2. “By prayer”
When you pray, you talk to God, so when you let your request be made known by prayer, you are recognizing that He is God. You are agreeing with all of His character, all of His goodness, all of His might. You are bringing your request to the only One who can actually do anything about it. Our God is powerful enough to help you, and He is good enough to want what is best for you.
3. “And supplication”
When is the last time you supplicated? You don’t know, right? Because we don’t use that word anymore. BDAG (a Greek lexicon) defines the Greek term here as “an urgent request to meet a need exclusively addressed to God.” If by prayer, we are recognizing who God is, then by supplication, we are recognizing who we are. Specifically, we are recognizing we are completely unable to solve the problem at hand. We are bringing our unsolvable issue to the good and mighty God.
4. “With thanksgiving”
To be honest, this is the easiest one for me to skip. It’s already got its own holiday. Thanksgiving has more to do with turkey than stress, right? Why do we need to be thankful? What could that possibly accomplish? Here is what I have found… When we are thankful, we are going back through our own story and finding all the times God has provided, every time He has not failed, each moment He was present. When we are thankful, we place our current stress in the context of God’s eternal provision. When I’m focused on my current circumstances, the obstacle may look too big to overcome. But when I look at the history of God’s victories over even larger opponents, this obstacle is put in its place. When Goliath stood in opposition to the army of Israel, David looked back at what God had done: The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from this Philistine (1 Samuel 17:37 ESV).
Tell God what you’re struggling with. Tell Him everything, remembering who He is and who you are. And take time to be thankful. It will put your current stress in the context of God’s eternal provision, goodness, might, and faithfulness. If you do these things, He will guard your heart and mind with peace.