Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV) 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Yesterday we began looking at Paul’s words in Philippians 4 concerning maintaining a thankful heart. We have seen that thanksgiving for Christian is much more than just a response to something good. Thanksgiving is a positive force that draws good things to the believer. Philippians 4:4-9 gives us some keys to cultivating and maintaining a thankful heart. Yesterday we studied the first of these keys, rejoicing in the Lord.
Rejoice means to celebrate or express joy. Rejoicing in the Lord is to celebrate our relationship with him. Paul says we should do this always. That does not mean that we must sing and shout all day every day. It does mean that we should keep a consciousness and rejoicing in our hearts concerning the wonderful things God has done for us. In order to do this, I believe we need to spend time in physical rejoicing or praising God.
In our church, we spend time in every service singing, clapping, shouting and even dancing before the Lord. This brings our flesh under the control of our spirit. When we are exuberant in our physical praise to God, we are doing what David did in Psalm 103. We are telling our soul that we will not serve it but that our soul, emotions, will serve us by praising God. We bring our bodies under subjection and cause them to praise the Lord. It is impossible to be unthankful when we are celebrating the goodness of God.
The second, third and fourth keys are in verse 6. First, Paul says to be anxious for nothing. The KJV says be careful for nothing. In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus tells us we cannot add an inch to our height by worrying. These are all saying the same thing. If we want to have a thankful heart, we cannot give in to worry.
Worry is meditation in fear. It is taking upon ourselves the care for our future and the responsibility to solve all our problems. There is a responsibility that we should carry, however we cannot handle the full weight. 1 Peter 5 tells us what we should do.
1 Peter 5:6-7(NKJV) 6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
When we give into the temptation to think about all the bad things that can happen to us, we are giving in to the cares and worries of life. Bad things are always out there. They can happen to us at any time. The ones we know about are probably far fewer than the ones we do not know about. However, the ones we know are the ones that get our attention and cause us to worry. The problem with worry is that it simply does no good.
The solution is to cast the worry, or care, about a situation on the Lord. To do that we must realize the truth that he really does care for us. When I give in to worry, I will always find myself unthankful. When I cast my care upon the Lord, I must begin to thank him for what he has done in the past. I remember that God is able to deal with any problem. Soon I find myself telling the devil, “My Father has this situation under control. I am not going to think about it except to hear what he has to say about it. If you want to talk about it, you will have to talk to my Father.”
Casting our care on the Lord requires that we do something that can be difficult for some of us. We must humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. To some people this means declaring that we are nothing and that we can do nothing. That is not true humility. True humility knows that I can do nothing without the Lord, but it also is willing to receive the help that God gives. I humble myself by letting the Lord take the care of the situation off my shoulders. He is well able to carry that burden.
The second key in this verse is that in everything we are to make our requests to God. This seems rather obvious at first, but if we examine ourselves, I think we will find that we do not do this. We try our best to solve the problem. We ask people for help or we lean on some natural institution. When all of that fails, we finally go to God in prayer. When we finally go to prayer, we have already taken the care of the situation on ourselves and we are already unthankful.
Paul tells us to take everything to God all the time. No request is too small or too large to take to the Lord. We should make requests of him first not after we try everything else. He can then direct us to whatever solution will best suit our situation. We may still get counsel from people or use some natural resource. We may find that the Lord will direct us as to how to handle the situation ourselves. He also may simply answer the request with a miracle. In any case, if we do not make the request he can do nothing.
Finally, Paul says we must make these requests “with thanksgiving.” It will do us no good to pray if we do not believe that God can and will meet the need. As we have studied in the past, if we believe God will meet the need, we should thank him for it even before we see the manifestation. God is not a man. He does not lie and he has no lack of ability no matter what our need may be. Since we know God can meet the need and, if we pray according to the promises in the Word, we know he wants to meet the need, we thank for the need met.
So let us summarize what Paul is saying in this verse. I need to be thankful to God. To cultivate this thankfulness, I must stop taking the burden of the care for the problem on my own shoulders. I must realize that God cares for me and be humble enough to trust him with my problems. I must also bring those problems to him through prayer and supplication, or asking.
Once I have done so, I must begin to thank him for the answer. In order to maintain a thankful heart, I must give thanks. I must practice thankfulness. As I practice thankfulness, I will release more and more of the care of the situation to God. As I release more of the care to God, I will be more thankful. I will also be more confident in bringing my requests to God, which will result in more practice of thanksgiving, which then will lead to more casting of my care on God, which will make me more thankful. Do you begin to see a pattern?
What is the result of this process? The peace of God begins to our hearts and minds. In this context, these words mean our thoughts and feelings. One interpretation of mind here is our disposition. I like that thought. The mind is the battleground of faith. As we put this process in place, there is something that begins to happen to our minds and emotions.
The Amplified Bible says the peace of God mounts garrison around our hearts and minds. This process produces peace, which becomes a fortress of God around my thoughts and my emotions. My disposition begins to change because I know that God is in control. The more I thank him the more peace rises and the stronger the walls become against the attack of the enemy. With this “garrison” in place, I can do anything necessary to see the full manifestation of God’s promise in my life.