October 8 I Monday
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” —Philippians 4:6
If, in a trying time, someone said to us, “Do not be anxious about anything,” we might wonder about that person. “You obviously live in a different world than I,” we might respond. Many find it difficult not to be anxious when they have bills to pay they cannot afford, when they are suddenly diagnosed with some illness or when their marriage or family life is falling apart. If Paul had stopped with simply “Do not be anxious about anything,” we would be understandably frustrated with seemingly unrealistic advice.
But Philippians 4:6 keeps going. There is an important hinge word, a “but” on which this verse swings. In any situation that might make us anxious, we are to present our requests to God “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.” This is not the kind of prayer where we tell God about our concerns but never give them over to Him. This is praying with an attitude of thankfulness at the very time our problems are underway.
There was a trend some years ago when Christians were encouraged to thank God for everything, even evil and sinful things, but this is not what Scripture teaches. The thanksgiving of Philippians 4:6 is closer to what Paul talks about in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is thanking God for His presence, His sufficiency, His wisdom and His power in our problems. It is saying, “Lord Jesus, though this situation frightens and threatens me, thank You that nothing is too big for You.”
When we are not sure where the money is going to come from to pay the bills, we can pray with thanksgiving knowing that God is our sustainer and provider. When we are suddenly diagnosed with an illness, we can pray with thanksgiving knowing that God is our comfort and our healer. When the world seems to be crashing down, we can pray with thanksgiving knowing that God loves us and is right there with us. Praying with thanksgiving does not mean our problems instantly go away, but it reminds us of the truth that the same Christ who put everything under His feet when He was raised from the dead is now present and active within us.
Even in difficult times, the language of the Christian faith is not “please” but “thank You.” Thanksgiving is not reserved for a day; it is an attitude, a willingness to entrust our lives and circumstances to God no matter what is happening to and around us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, whether in peace and plenty or surrounded by strife and struggles, may my attitude and my prayers be characterized by thankfulness for You in all things.