Thursday, November 17

Anxiety v. Thankfulness . . .

Familiar verses can often become the most astonishing verses. That's true for me of Philippians 4:6,

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Anxiety Gets Our Attention
True enough. Just mention worry or anxiety in a church meeting and you'll get people to sit up and listen. Why? Well, I think it's one of those subjects which most feel all too well. Some imagine it's inherited looking at their family history. Others just accept it as a part of life with no real deliverance on the horizon. In the light of this, what's so amazing (in part) about this verse is that it tells--yes, commands--us not to be anxious about ANYTHING! Say what you will, that is the short of it. No worries, period! 

Skipping the prayer and supplication for now, it's the "with thanksgiving" that jumps out at me. Note that it's not listed as an optional offer, if we think about it or feel like it. As a student of the Word of God, it is always a good idea to note the emphasis of a word or phrase first even before delving into its meaning. So, before knowing why "with thanksgiving" is listed, we can see from the sentence that it is included in the solution. Remove it and you change the verse.  

I would suggest that thanksgiving represents a certain kind of faith without which we cannot expect to find (in this case) release from our worries. In other words, it's possible to pray in such a way that we should not expect an answer simply because, well . . . we do not expect an answer! We may come to God in selfishness, or faithlessness, or even willfulness, each of which will prevent our prayers from getting past the ceiling. 

Positively, there are good reasons why thanksgiving must accompany our cries. 

First, we know that when we appeal to God, we are calling out to our loving Father who has so much to give us. We do not come as paupers, but to One who will “open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Malachi 3:10).  

Second, we come with thanksgiving because we are permitted to pray. I know, we ofttimes wrestle within ourselves because we do not pray as we ought. But at least we know that we CAN pray. We CAN call upon God. We HAVE been commanded to do so. Thanksgiving unites our prayers to this free invitation to come to God in prayer.  

Third, we come with thanksgiving because we know our own prayer history, that we have often come to Him before and our God has answered us. “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

Fourth, we come in thanksgiving because we know that even if we are suffering in a trial or an affliction, that it is our God who controls all such issues. “I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (Psalm 119:75).

So, you see the point of thanksgiving? It suggests HOW we come to God in our anxious moments, how we approach him in faith, a faith that trusts God's goodness, wisdom, power, and love. Prayer that does not believe these truths about the God from whom we seek help is really no prayer at all, but griping and complaining! Let us take care that we pray in faith WITH THANKSGIVING!



Daniel said...

Thanks for this Pastor- I've been fighting the battle of anxiety pretty hard this last week, and this was helpful.

David R. Nelson said...

Dan: I am so glad! This can be a very liberating truth if we take it to heart and make a practice of claiming its power. God unite your heart to fear his name.