Amplified: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: Do not worry about anything; but in everything with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Lightfoot: Entertain no anxious cares, but throw them all upon God. By your prayer and your supplication make your every want known to him.
NLT: Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Don't worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer,
Weymouth: Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing, but in everything by prayer whose essence is that of worship and devotion and by supplication which is a cry for your personal needs, with thanksgiving let your requests for the things asked for be made known in the presence of God, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer, and by supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God;
BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING: meden merimnate (2PPAM): (Da 3:16; Mt 6:25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33-see notes; Mt 10:19; 13:22; Lk 10:41; 12:29; 1Co 7:21,32; 1Pe 5:7-note) (Macarthur Php 4:5-7 & Php 4:6-8)
Note: All verbs in bold red indicate commands, not suggestions! Also hold mouse pointer over underlined links for pop up of Scripture which stays open and can be copied.
See related topics:
Here are some other renderings of Philippians 4:6 to help give you a feel for what Paul is commanding...
In context, Paul just reminded the saints about God’s nearness, and follows with the exhortation that believers should not be fearful, anxious, or wavering. There is no greater source of spiritual stability than the confidence that the Lord is near, not only to hear our cry for help but also able to provide help and strength. The psalmist declares “The nearness of God is my good” (Ps 73:28 see Spurgeon's note). Because of God’s nearness, believers should stop being fearful, fretful, anxious, or worried.
Dwight Pentecost puts this famous passage in proper perspective asking...
The Greek places nothing at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis. The verb be anxious (see below) is present imperative which is a command, not just an exhortation and not something optional that would be nice to do if we decide to do it. The present tense in fact calls for this to be the habitual practice in the life of believers. The negative preceding the command means they are to stop doing something, implying they are already worrying! Paul says in essence
As discussed more below Paul tells them to stop letting their stomach being tied into knots so that they cannot even eat. Get the crease off of your brows Paul says. This is no small matter because worry makes us irritable and hard to get along with because of the inner pressures we've allowed to build up inside. Paul is not saying that there are not reasons to worry, but he is saying that believers are to avoid this subtle and debilitating sin.
Jesus gave the same command do not worry ("do not be anxious")
Peter offered similar advice writing...
Nothing (medeis from mede = and not, also not + heis = one) literally means "not even one thing" and is placed first in the Greek construction for emphasis. Now apply this truth - what are saints permitted to worry about?
J Vernon McGee explains that
Guzik has an interesting insight that
Vine adds that
Why might the saints at Philippi have been prone to anxiety? In chapter 1 Paul had encouraged them to "in no way (be) alarmed by (their) opponents" reminding them that to them it had actually "been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" and even at the time of this writing they were "experiencing the same conflict (strife, contention)" they had seen in him. (Php 1:28, 29, 30- see notes Ph1:28, 29-30) Paul is not making light of the troubles which they face, but he knows that God is greater than all their troubles
The "joyful" saints at Philippi were habitually worrying (see below), continually forfeiting their joy. All saints need to keep a lofty view of the character and attributes of their God and remember that nothing is outside of His sovereign control or is too difficult for Him to handle (See Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower- Summary and Summary - The Attributes of God). A low view of God leads to spiritual instability with a predisposition toward anxiety and worry.
A. W. Tozer warned years ago that
The result of the church’s failure to equip believers with "The knowledge of the Holy" character and works of God leads ultimately to a lack of confidence in Him (cp a sad example of the "negative" outworking of this vital spiritual principle in Jdg 2:8, 9, 10, 21:25 - note esp Jdg 2:10 - What did they not know [Hebrew = yada = speaks of an intimate, experiential knowing, used in ["had relations" = yada] Genesis 4:1, 25 of Adam "knowing" his wife] the next generation did not know  Jehovah or  His works! They did not know His Person nor His power! What was the result in context? See Jdg 2:11, 12, 13, 14-see notes on Judges 2). The shifting sands of shallow, even faulty theology provide no stable footing for the souls (and soles) of the believer, who is then vulnerable to the burden of anxiety and worry not to mention the wiles (Ep 6:11- note - wiles = schemes = Greek word methodeia) of the devil (diabolos) and the fallen flesh. (cp Jas 1:13, 14-notes).
A study on the Names of God would be a great way (more "palatable", less "theological" sounding than "attributes") to introduce a body of believers to the attributes of God (For sermon ideas, see notes on the Names of the LORD is a Strong Tower- Summary)
Be anxious (3309) (merimnao from merimna [word study] = anxious care from meris = part, in turn from [Sources: Vine's Expository Dictionary, Ralph Earle - Word Meanings in the NT] the verb merizo = to distract, to divide, to draw different directions - which is exactly what anxiety does to most of us!) expresses a strong feeling for something or someone, often to the point of being burdened. Although this can be a "positive" concern, in most of the NT uses it refers to an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune, and so it means to be worried about, to be anxious about, to be apprehensive (viewing the future with anxiety or alarm), to be unduly concerned, to be burdened with anxious care or cumbered with many cares and in simple terms to worry.
Larry Richards offers a well reasoned assessment of merimnao explaining that...
Merimnao is used 17 times in the NT is translated in the NAS as "concerned, 4; have...care, 1; be anxious, 11; worry, 1.
Worry has a fascinating etymology which can be traced back to the Old High German "wurgen" which means "to strangle" which is what worry does to our joy! Webster adds that in "dialect British" worry means to "choke" or to "strangle". The first definition of "worry" in Webster is "to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat", and then "to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort" and "to afflict with mental distress or agitation = make anxious". (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield, Mass)
Merimnao in the present context means to have an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune and is characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency and emphasizes a fear of frustration, failure or disappointment.
The idea inherent in merimnao is of attempting to carry the burden of the future oneself and of unreasonable anxiety especially about things over which one has no control.
TDNT says that the word group which includes merimnao...
The New International Dictionary of NT Theology writes that...
Lawrence Richards writes that merimnao...
Barclay gives some examples of use in secular Greek writings explaining that merimnao means...
Marvin Vincent writes that the...
Vine writes that...
Anxiety is a very picturesque word, pictures to be pulled in different directions. Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears (see topic: How To Handle Fear) pull us the opposite direction; and we are pulled apart! The English word "anxious" has a very "telling" derivation from the Latin word Latin anxius which is akin to Latin angere which means to strangle (compare with "worry" above)! Isn't that what anxiety does to most of us...strangle us and render us ineffective in God's kingdom work?
Be anxious is a command (imperative mood = not a suggestion) not a suggest or an option and is in the present tense which calls for continuous action. Paul says that the habit of our life is to not be anxious. The Greek construction indicates that Paul is giving a prohibition which forbids the continuance of an action already habitually going on. In other words, the Philippian saints were habitually worrying and Paul exhorts them to stop.
Paul uses merimnao in a positive light in chapter 2 extolling the virtues of his young protégée Timothy reminding the Philippians
Eadie writes that
Warren Wiersbe adds that
Charles Spurgeon once said that...
The NT realizes that life is swayed by care. Concern is unavoidable but it is given a new orientation. Liberation from it comes as one casts it upon God. How do we "cast" our burdens upon God? Somewhat paradoxically by continually making our anxieties known to Him in thankful prayer. God obviously knows, but our act of declaring our anxious thoughts to Him represents a humbling of one's self beneath His mighty hand. And we know that although He opposes the proud, He gives grace to the humble and exalts them at the appropriate time.
Peter contrasts two types of care in the following exhortation to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God...
The psalmist writes
What's the cure for worry? Spiritually stable people react to trials with thankful prayer. Such prayer is the antidote to worry and the cure for anxiety. The theology of prayer is not in view here, but rather its priority and the attitude the believer brings to it.
Bengel - Care (anxious) and prayer are as mutually opposed as fire and water.
Barnes adds that Paul "does not mean that we are to exercise no care about worldly matters - no care to preserve our property, or to provide for our families (cf 1Ti 5:8); but that there is to be such confidence in God as to free the mind from anxiety, and such a sense of dependence on him as to keep it calm.
Spurgeon - There is no more blessed way of living than a life of dependence upon a covenant-keeping God. We have no care, for He cares for us; we have no troubles, because we cast our burdens upon the Lord.
Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909), former US Senate chaplain, said, "Never attempt to bear more than one kind of trouble at once. Some people bear three kinds--all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have."
The venerable D L Moody once quipped that saints should be "Careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything."
Calvin writes that saints "are not made of iron so as not to be shaken by temptations. But this is our consolation, this is our solace --to deposit, or (to speak with greater propriety) to disburden in the bosom of God everything that harasses us. Confidence, it is true, brings tranquility to our minds, but it is only in the event of our exercising ourselves in prayers. Whenever, therefore, we are assailed by any temptation, let us betake ourselves forthwith to prayer, as to a sacred asylum.
Corrie Ten Boom sage had several wise thoughts regarding anxiety and worry...
Look around and be distressed.
WHAT IS WORRY?
Worry is wrong and is in essence sin. Worry is unnecessary (cp "the birds"). Worry is useless (it cannot add an hour to your life or an inch to your height). Worry is blind (to the lessons taught by God's providential care of the birds and flowers). Worry is at its very core being, a failure to trust God.
Michael Green records the following story from the life of the fourteenth-century German Johann Tauler, which aptly demonstrates something of the attitude Jesus is calling His disciples to maintain...
E. E. Wordsworth wrote that...
Fretting Is A Waste -- Fret (derived from an Old English word fretan meaning "to eat") means to affect something as if by gnawing or biting, to cause to suffer emotional strain, to become vexed or worried, (of a road surface) to become loose so that potholes develop (think about that definition as a word pix of what happens to the one who frets and worries); a state of irritation or anxiety. To corrode, rub, chafe, fray, vex, agitate, ripple, grate, stew, fume, brood, eat one's heart out, agonize, anguish, lose sleep over, obsess about, upset or distress oneself, worry, erode, gall, wear, wear away, annoy, bother, disturb, chagrin, goad, grieve, harass, irk, irritate, nag, nettle, provoke, rankle with, rile, ruffle, torment, trouble. Whew!!!
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Worry casts a big shadow behind a small thing.
BUT IN EVERYTHING BY PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION WITH THANKSGIVING : all en panti te proseuche kai te deesei meta eucharistias: (Ge 32:7, 8, 9, 10, 11,12; 1Sa 1:15; 30:6; 2Chr 32:20; 33:12,13; Ps 34:5, 6, 7; 51:15; Ps 55:17,22; 62:8; Pr 3:5,6; 16:3; Jer 33:3; Mt 7:7,8; Lk 18:1,7; 12:22; Ep 6:18; Col 4:2; 1Th 5:17,18; 1Pe 4:7; Jude 1:20,21) (See John Macarthur's exposition on Php 4:5-7 & Php 4:6-8 and 4:6b-7Thankful Prayer)
See Related Resources:
Exposition of Ephesians 5:20 (Eph 5:20)
Exposition of 1Thessalonians 5:18 (1Th 5:18)
Now it is one thing to forbid worry and quite another thing to keep from worry. After Paul gives the command to stop worrying, he then shows us the solution. What is the solution? The essence of worry is that we do not trust God to handle the circumstance, etc. In a sense we take "responsibility" for what rightly should be His responsibility. God as our Father has promised (as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount) to providentially care for His children. If God is faithful to keep this promise then why should His child worry? The secret is replacing worry with prayer. The Psalmist had learned the secret exhorting us to "Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken" (Psalm 55:22 - see discussion above)
Don't try to carry the heavy burden on your faint shoulders. When the burdens become unbearable, cast them on Jehovah (study of this name) The solution to the problem of anxiety and worry, the solution to the problem of those burdens too heavy to bear is to transfer them onto the shoulders of the One Who Alone is able to bear them. Is your stomach in a knot from worry, causing you irritability and nervous frustration? Then cast them on the Lord.
Everything (whatever the matter) (pas) means everything without exception! Not just those "crisis" prayers. No time, no subject, no place is off limits for prayer. In everything; in each emergency, little or great, as it arises, pray; cultivate the habit of referring all things, great or small, to God in prayer.
Henry adds that
Prayer (4335) (proseuche from pros = toward or immediately before + euchomai = to pray or vow) is the more general word for prayer and is used only of prayer to God. The prefix pros would convey the sense of being immediately before Him and hence the ideas of adoration, devotion, and worship. The basic idea is to bring something, and in prayer this pertains to bringing up prayer requests. In early Greek culture an offering was brought with a prayer that it be accepted. Later the idea was changed slightly, so that the thing brought to God was a prayer. In later Greek, prayers appealed to God for His presence.
Proseuche is used 37 times in the NT (see below). Note the concentration of prayer in the early church! (Acts) What has happened to us as a church in America? How might this relate to how infrequently we see the power of the Lord at work in our midst? Below are the NT uses...
Proseuche is used 62 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Note concentration in the psalms which is not surprising - many of the uses are in the context of asking God to give ear to or to heed his prayer) (2Sa 7:27; 1Ki. 8:29, 38, 45, 54; 9:3; 2Ki. 19:4; 20:5; 2Chr. 6:19f, 29, 35, 39; 7:12, 15; 30:27; 33:18, 19; Neh. 1:6, 11; Ps. 4:1; 6:9; 17:1; 35:13; 39:12; 42:8; 54:2; 55:1; 61:1; 65:2; 66:20; 69:13; 80:4; 84:8; 86:1, 6; 88:2, 13; 90:1; 102:1, 17; 109:7; 141:2, 5; 142:1; 143:1; Pr 28:9; Isa. 38:5, 9; 56:7; 60:7; Jer. 11:14; Lam. 3:8, 44; Da 9:3, 17, 18, 20, 21; Jon. 2:7; Hab 3:1, 16)
Paul is saying believers are to present worries in prayer, going to God with a sense of conscious dependence upon Him (like the psalmist in Psalm 84 above) to fulfill His responsibility toward us, pleading with Him even as Jacob did. God has promised to take care of us so we are not trying to get God to assume an obligation that is not His.
Lawrence Richards writes that proseuche (and the verb form Proseuchomai)...
Wuest picks up on this meaning translating it
The idea is setting one's focus on God (Read Hezekiah's response to a potentially "big" anxiety producing problem) and so of exhibiting a worshipful attitude.
The first priority when we find ourselves worrying, should be to get alone with God and express our love, and adoration to Him, focusing on His glorious and majestic attributes such as His unchangeable character (Immutable), His sovereign control (Sovereign) and His omnipotence (Omnipotent). Then God Who may have seemed too "small" or "indifferent" is seen as Jehovah (Jehovah), the great "I Am"..."I Am anything and everything you will ever need!" (See also - Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower- Summary and Summary - The Attributes of God)
Too often we rush into His presence, blurting out our supplications and requests, instead of approaching His throne of grace with the sense of wonder and reverential fear pictured by the use of the noun proseuche. So the first thing Paul instructs the saints at Philippi to do is focus on God. A fruitful discipline is to take some time to study His names (click) or His attributes (click).
We are to worry about nothing because we can pray about everything.
Spurgeon goes on to exhort us...
Deesis is used in the NT for prayer for particular benefits and gives prominence to one's personal needs. Deesis emphasizes the fact that the suppliant is in need of the thing ask for. Webster says that to supplicate (from Latin supplic-, supplex = entreating for mercy) means to make humble entreaty.
Deesis - 18x in 16v - Lk 1:13; Lk 2:37; Lk 5:33; Ro 10:1; 2Co 1:11; 2Co 9:14; Eph 6:18; Php 1:4, 19; Php 4:6; 1Ti 2:1; 5:5; 2Ti 1:3; Heb 5:7; Jas 5:16; 1Pet 3:12. Translated entreaties(2), petition(3), prayer(6), prayers(6), supplication(1).
Dwight Pentecost adds that...
Thanksgiving (2169) (eucharista from eú = well, + charizomai = to grant, give freely; English = Eucharist as related to Lord's Supper) is the expression of thanks or gratitude for favor and mercy shown. Thankfulness from one conscious of benefit received.
See Related Studies on Thanksgiving:
Exposition of 1Thessalonians 5:18 (1Th 5:18)
Thanksgiving expresses what ought never to be absent from any of our devotions. We should always be ready to express our grateful acknowledgement of past mercies as distinguished form the earnest seeking of future mercies.
It is notable that one the chief traits of unregenerate men is the absence of gratitude to God. Paul uses the related verb in Romans 1, explaining that..
BDAG says it is the quality of being grateful, with implication of appropriate attitude, noting that it was an important component of Greco-Roman reciprocity; e.g., it is found in the copy of a letter written by the Emperor Claudius to a Gymnastic Club expressing his gratification at games performed in his honour. Eucharista was also common on ancient inscriptions.
As John Piper asks
TDNT adds that
Eucharista is found 15 times in the NT (and only in Esther 8:12)...
Thanksgiving implies that the grateful person is in perfect submission to the will of God, however His will is manifest. Why? Because it is only when one is fully convinced that God is working all things together for good that he or she can really give God being truly thankful. Paul is cautioning against a whining, complaining, murmuring spirit which is really just an express one's lack of faith in God's goodness. James in the context of asking God for wisdom in trials writes that we are to
Robertson adds that
Paul reiterates the importance of a thankful heart, exhorting the Colossians:
Paul himself is an example of constant thanksgiving for all of his Epistles (except Galatians, 1Timothy, and Titus) open with thanksgiving. And how could the Philippians forget Paul's example in the dungeon at Philippi when at
MacArthur explains that God’s promises support the reasonableness of saints always praying with thanksgiving irregardless of the circumstances for God
Hawthorne in the Word Biblical Commentary writes that
J Vernon McGee shares
Hiebert writes that...
Barnes commenting on 1Thes 5:18 notes that believers...
J Vernon McGee writes that give thanks in everything means...
BBC wrote that even the...
Merrill Unger wrote that thanksgiving is...
Fenelon who was admittedly a bit mystical gives some good advice regarding honest prayer:
McGee goes on to add that
Pentecost points out that
Will Hansen writes on "The Answer to Anxiety" (Php 4:6,7) (Ref)...
It has been estimated that there are more theories, and therefore more books, on the subject of anxiety than any other area in the entire field of medicine. While many try to dominate this field, no one has come up w/the answer...except God...the key is in these 2 verses...
1. THE FIRST KEY: YOU MUST HAVE A PRAYER LIFE. Php 4:6
a. Notice these two words: prayer and petitions.
Prayer is addressing God...reverently...on face...
Petition or supplication is making your requests known (to Him). it is telling Him what you need
b. One of the greatest problems in the Ch today: Christians don't pray! We don't communicate with the God we claim to know...we teach we preach we sing, but we cant spare God 5 min. Until we learn to pray, truly pray, we WILL have anxieties...because prayer is where we get peace
c. To have a prayer life, you MUST be comfortable in talking to God. This requires that you build a relationship w/Him (time) learn to trust Him (time) be consistent (time)
KEY : TIME
Spend time in His Word and talking to Him. Nothing will change until you do this...
d. To have a prayer life, you MUST make your needs known to God. Not that He doesn't already know your needs...but this admission counters self-reliance. Much anxiety comes from the "I can do it myself" syndrome -or- "I don't need anyone's help." Oh yes you do!!
2. THE SECOND KEY: YOUR LIFE MUST BE FILLED WITH PRAISE.
a. Praise is connected with prayer. The idea is: how can we address God without feeling the need to also praise Him? If we could see His face now, I guarantee you, you would praise Him over and over but we should be able to see enough of Him through our other senses to be filled with praise to Him!
b. There is victory in praise! When we praise Him, we are taking our eyes off of ourselves and putting them fully on God...our hearts are overflowing with love and adoration towards Him! One of causes of anxiety is self pity...praising God cures that!!
c. For you to have a life of praise, you may have to do some self-re-evaluation. Have the mercies of God become dull to you? Have you become spiritually spoiled? This is easy to do with all the conveniences we have today. But God deserves our praise! Your life will drastically change if and when you begin doing it! That is a promise from God!
3. NOTICE THIS WONDERFUL PROMISE: Read Php 4:7
a. Notice the peace OF God, not peace WITH God. Perfect peace is a promise, not a dream!
b. Notice the word guard: an army (that protects from invasion) Understand this: God's peace will guard your heart and your mind like an army guards a country...
You can have the peace of God inside of you
In his book FOLK PSALMS OF FAITH, Ray Stedman tells of an experience H. A. Ironside had in a crowded restaurant. Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited his to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, "Do you have a headache?" Ironside replied, "No, I don't." The other man asked, "Well, is there something wrong with your food?" Ironside replied, "No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat."
The man said, "Oh, you're one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don't have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!"
Ironside said, "Yes, you're just like my dog. That's what he does too!" (Ray Stedman, Folk Psalms of Faith)
In a sermon at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, Gary Wilburn said: "In 1636, amid the darkness of the Thirty Years' War, a German pastor, Martin Rinkart, is said to have buried five thousand of his parishioners in one year, and average of fifteen a day. His parish was ravaged by war, death, and economic disaster. In the heart of that darkness, with the cries of fear outside his window, he sat down and wrote this table grace for his children:
'Now thank we all our God
Who, from our mother's arms,
Here was a man who knew thanksgiving comes from love of God, not from outward circumstances. (Don Maddox)
Scottish minister Alexander Whyte was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought to himself...
Much to his surprise, however, Pastor Whyte began by praying...
That's the habitual attitude of gratitude Paul is calling for in all of God's children, beloved. Gratitude is an attitude that like all spiritual disciplines, needs to be consciously developed and deliberately cultivated in the dependence on the Holy Spirit (cp Ep 5:18, 19, 20-note) and the grace in which we stand (Ro 5:2-note). There are some practical steps that can cultivate the gracious attribute of gratitude. For example, you can make thanksgiving a priority in your prayer life (Col 4:2-note) rather than focusing only on petitions and requests. There may even be blessed times when your prayer time consists of nothing but gratefulness to the Almighty. You can always thank Him for the various wonderful aspects of your salvation (adoption & sovereign care, forgiveness, inheritance, the gift of His Spirit, freedom from sin's power and Satan's authority, etc) Have you had any prayer times like that recently?
And you can thank Him for the "smaller" blessings of life, those things we all to often take for granted. You can ask Him to make you very sensitive to grumbling and mumbling complaints which are the polar opposite of a thankful spirit. You can utilize spiritual songs (Eph 5:20-note) to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness, allowing the words of a wonderful hymn to lift your eyes and heart in a way that nothing else can. Thank people who bless you in even the smallest ways. It will complete your enjoyment of the blessing, and it will increase your capacity to thank God. Reflect on and serve those less fortunate than you. This will remind you of how gracious God has been to you, how far He has brought you, and how much He has blessed you—which will in turn motivate you to be grateful to God.
LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN TO GOD : ta aitemata humonon gnorizestho (3SPPM) pros ton theon: (1Sa 7:12; 2Co 1:11; Ep 5:20; Col 3:15,17) (Spurgeon on Prayer Perfumed with Praise) (Pr 15:8; Song 2:14; Mt 6:8)
Requests (155) (aitema from aiteo = ask for with urgency to the point of demanding, even as demanding one's share) are petitions that in general are from one who is in a lesser position than the one to whom the petition is made. Vincent says that aitema refer to the specific details of supplication.
Friberg writes that aitema is " what has been requested or demanded request, petition, demand; as distinct from deesis (plea, entreaty)."
Zodhiates writes that aitema refers to "particular requests of which prayer (proseuche ) may consist, e.g., in the Lord’s Prayer there are seven aitemata, petitions, although some have regarded the first three as euchaí (2171), wishes. Aítēma is used in Luke 23:24 in the sense of petition by the Jews for releasing Barabbas." (Complete Word Study Dictionary).
The two other uses of aitema are...
Be made known (Let God know what is troubling you) (1107)(gnorizo from ginosko = acquire information often with implication of personal experience) means to cause information to be known by someone communicating things before unknown or reasserting things already known (Jn 15:15, Acts 7:13).
Be made known is a command (imperative) in the present tense (continually do this, make it the habit of your life). In other words keep praying and don't lose heart. Jesus gave a similar exhortation to His disciples "telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart" (read the parable in Lk 18:1-6)
Guzik addresses the question of "Doesn't God already know our requests before we pray them? (Mt 6:8-note) Of course He does; yet He will often wait for our participation through prayer before granting that which we request."
Vine adds that although "God knows all our needs before we ask Him, He delights to have that expression of our confidence in Him which intelligently utters our needs in detail in communion with Him."
Paul is saying, in effect, that prayer is a conversation with, a plea directed to, a request made of, information given to a person, in this case the supreme Person of the universe Who can hear, know, understand, care about and respond to the concerns that otherwise would sink you in despair.
To God (in the presence of God) (immediately before God) is the preposition pros which as noted above conveys the idea of motion toward or of being immediately before another. Pros depicts us as "face to face" with God! Coram Deo!
This picture reminds one of King Hezekiah who upon receiving a potentially anxiety producing letter from the Assyrians (in which Israel's destruction was predicted)
This is a beautiful pattern of prayer that can relieve even the highest level of anxiety or the heaviest of burdens. Note how Hezekiah begins with his focus on God's attributes and character. May his tribe increase to the glory of God!
MacArthur illustrates thankful praying with an event in the life of the prophet Jonah writing that
Spurgeon gives this advice on letting your requests be known to God: "Cast your troubles where you have cast your sins; you have cast your sins into the depth of the sea, there cast your troubles also. Never keep a trouble half an hour on your own mind before you tell it to God. As soon as the trouble comes, quick, the first thing, tell it to your Father. Remember, that the longer you take telling your trouble to God. the more your peace will be impaired. The longer the frost lasts, the more thick the ponds will be frozen. Your frost will last till you go to the sun; and when you go to God — the sun, then your frost will soon become a thaw, and your troubles will melt away. But do not be long, because the longer you are in waiting, the longer will your trouble be in thawing afterwards. Wait a long while till your trouble gets frozen thick and firm, and it will take many a day of prayer to get your trouble thawed again. Away to the throne as quick as ever you can. Do as the child did, when he ran and told his mother as soon as his little trouble happened to him; run and tell your Father the first moment you are in affliction. Do this in everything, in every little thing... take them all to God; pour then all out at once. And so by an obedient practice of this command in everything making known your wants unto God, you shall preserve that peace “which shall keep your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.”
The following devotionals are from Our Daily Bread (Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Five-Finger Prayers - Prayer is a conversation with God, not a formula. Yet sometimes we might need to use a "method" to freshen up our prayer time. We can pray the Psalms or other Scriptures (such as The Lord's Prayer), or use the ACTS method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). I recently came across this "Five-Finger Prayer" to use as a guide when praying for others:
Whatever method you use, just talk with your Father. He wants to hear what's on your heart. --Anne Cetas
Our prayers ascend to heaven's throne
It's not the words we pray that matter, it's the condition of our heart.
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DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE IN PRAYER? - The story is told of a man who got a permit to open the first tavern in a small town. The members of a local church were strongly opposed to the bar, so they began to pray that God would intervene. A few days before the tavern was scheduled to open, lightning hit the structure and it burned to the ground. The people of the church were surprised but pleased—until they received notice that the would-be tavern owner was suing them. He contended that their prayers were responsible for the burning of the building. They denied the charge. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the judge wryly remarked, "At this point I don't know what my decision will be, but it seems that the tavern owner believes in the power of prayer and these church people don't." Lord, thank You for answering our prayers even when our faith is weak. Increase our faith and help us to pray more expectantly! —H V Lugt
Prayer without expectancy may be unbelief in disguise.
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PHILIPPIANS 4:6 - Author A. B. Simpson told about an old farmer who plowed around a large rock in his field year after year. He had broken one cultivator and two plowshares by hitting it. Each time he saw that obstacle, he grumbled about how much trouble the rock had caused. One day he decided to dig it up and be done with it. Putting a large crowbar under one side, he found to his surprise that the rock was less than a foot thick. Soon he had pried it out of the ground and was carting it away in his wagon. He smiled to think how that "big" old rock had caused him so much needless frustration. Not every trouble can be removed as easily as that stone. But prayer is an effective way to handle difficulties of all sizes. Using the leverage of prayer with our problems can keep us from becoming victims of worry. —D. J. De Haan
Fervent prayer dispels anxious care.
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Say "Mercy!" - You may have played the game when you were a child. You interlace your fingers with someone else's and try to bend the other's hands back until one or the other cries "Mercy!" The winner is the one who gets the other person to surrender.
Sometimes we try to play "Mercy" with God when we pray. We have a request that we desperately want answered in a certain way, so we try to "bend His fingers back" and get Him to give in. When it seems we aren't winning, we try a little harder to convince Him by begging or bargaining. We may even give up grudgingly and say, "Lord, You always win! That's not fair!"
God does want honesty of heart. But occasionally in our honesty a demanding spirit comes out. Deep down we know that prayer is not meant to be a contest with God that we try to win. In our wiser moments, we make our requests known to our Lord, surrender them to Him, rely on His grace, and wait for His answers (Philippians 4:6-7). Author Hannah Whitall Smith said, "Be glad and eager to throw yourself unreservedly into His loving arms, and to hand over the reins of government to Him."
Instead of praying with grudging resignation, "Lord, You always win," surrender to Him. Say "Mercy!"—Anne Cetas
In Jesus' name we voice our prayers—
Prayer isn't a time to give orders but to report for duty!
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The Leverage Of Prayer - Pastor and author A. B. Simpson told about an old farmer who plowed around a large rock in his field year after year. He had broken one cultivator and two plowshares by hitting it. Each time he saw that obstacle, he grumbled about how much trouble the rock had caused.
One day he decided to dig it up and be done with it. Putting a large crowbar under one side, he found to his surprise that the rock was less than a foot thick. Soon he had pried it out of the ground and was carting it away in his wagon. He smiled to think how that "big" old rock had caused him so much needless frustration.
Not every trouble can be removed as easily as that stone. But prayer is an effective way to handle difficulties of all sizes. Paul told us to use prayer in every situation (Phil. 4:6).
Sometimes when we pray, God dispels difficulty as easily as the sun burns off a morning mist. At other times He shows us that our problems are much smaller than we had thought. But some obstacles are immovable, and we must learn to live with them. Prayer then becomes the channel through which God's wisdom, strength, and patience flow.
Using the leverage of prayer with our problems can help keep us from becoming victims of worry. --D J De Haan
O what peace we often forfeit,
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Pressuring God - Under General George Patton's command in World War II, the Third Army had been driving back the Nazis until fog and rain forced the troops to stop. Patton telephoned a chaplain to ask, "Do you have a good prayer for weather?" Immediately the chaplain complied with the general's request. He wrote a prayer, which Patton ordered to be printed and distributed to the 250,000 soldiers under his command, directing them to pray for clear weather.
The Scriptures teach us that God wants us to bring our requests to Him, and we can be confident that He cares and will answer (Philippians 4:6;1John 5:14,15). But He is never obligated to answer in the way we want or just because many people are praying.
When the Son of God was agonizing in Gethsemane, He made His request in humble submission to His Father by saying, "Your will be done" (Matthew 26:42). That Gethsemane principle ought to govern all our praying.
The Father's will is always infused with infinite love and wisdom. So instead of trying to pressure God because we think He's obligated to us, we as trustful children gladly commit to Him our desires. Whatever He grants will prove in the end to be the best of blessings. —Vernon C Grounds
So lift up your heart to the heavens;
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Is It Time To Pray? - When people face trials, they often turn to prayer only as a last resort. I knew a man who was fighting a valiant battle with cancer. As people observed the gradual effect on his body and lifestyle, one person said, "Well, they've tried everything else. I guess it's time to begin praying."
Another man was going through an extremely difficult time at work. It was a crisis of major proportions that had ominous implications for him and for the future of his company. He just couldn't resolve it. Finally he said, "I've tried everything I know to get through this situation and nothing has worked. It's time to start praying."
In both of these instances, prayer was seen as a last-ditch effort to resolve the problem. Only after all other options were eliminated did the person decide to pray. It was a desperate "grasping at straws."
Instead of prayer being a last resort, it should be one of the first things we do. The Lord answers prayer, and He wants us to come to Him continually with all of our needs (1Thessalonians 5:17). The Bible tells us to "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer . . . let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). So don't wait. It's always time to pray. —David C. Egner
Any hour when helping others
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PHILIPPIANS 4:6 - A friend of mine took his small son with him one day to run some errands. When lunchtime arrived, the two of them went to a familiar diner for a sandwich. The father sat down on one of the stools at the counter and lifted the boy up to the seat beside him. They ordered lunch, and when the waiter brought the food the father said, "Son, we'll just have a silent prayer." Dad got through praying first and waited for his son to finish his prayer, but he just sat with his head bowed for an unusually long time. When he finally looked up, his father asked him, "What in the world were you praying about all that time?" "How do I know?" the child replied. "It was a silent prayer."
A lot of our praying is like that, whether silent or aloud. We don't say anything to the Lord. We call words to mind, but they are repetitious or insincere. What the Lord needs to hear from us is earnest, heartfelt prayer—prompted by the Holy Spirit and offered in the name of the Lord Jesus. The result, according to Paul, is "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding," that "will guard [our] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7).
We need to take prayer seriously. Closing our eyes, bowing our heads, and repeating nice-sounding words is insufficient. Our requests must be in line with God's Word, and they must come from sincere hearts. —P. R. V.
True prayer does not require eloquence but earnestness.
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More Than Wishing - As a child, C. S. Lewis enjoyed reading the books of E. Nesbit, especially Five Children and It. In this book, brothers and sisters on a summer holiday discover an ancient sand fairy who grants them one wish each day. But every wish brings the children more trouble than happiness because they can't foresee the results of getting everything they ask for.
The Bible tells us to make our requests known to God (Philippians 4:6). But prayer is much more than telling God what we want Him to do for us. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He began by reminding them, "Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8). What we call "The Lord's Prayer" is more about living in a growing, trusting relationship with our heavenly Father than about getting what we want from Him. As we grow in faith, our prayers will become less of a wish list and more of an intimate conversation with the Lord.
Toward the end of his life, C. S. Lewis wrote, "If God had granted all the silly prayers I've made in my life, where should I be now?"
Prayer is placing ourselves in the presence of God to receive from Him what we really need.—David C. McCasland
We grasp but a thread of the garment of prayer;
Have You Prayed? - Several years ago I moved to England, but I have traveled back to the USA many times, often staying with the same families. One family lived in a farmhouse where a tiny upstairs room always awaited me.
I will never forget one visit when, as usual, I lugged my suitcase up the familiar stairs. This time, however, a secret burden on my heart felt heavier than my luggage. As I neared the top of the steps, I saw an old plaque that I had forgotten. It read:
Have You Prayed About It?
Panting physically and spiritually, I had to admit, "No, I haven't!" So I slipped to my knees and finally talked to God about the problem.
Instead of being anxious for nothing, I had become anxious about everything. Instead of praying about everything, I had prayed about nothing. But now, through prayer, my heavy load of worry became God's, and His lightweight gift of peace became mine.
In his book Tyranny of the Urgent, Charles Hummel writes that if we are prayerless, "we are saying, with our actions if not our lips, that we do not need God." The deciding factor on how we carry our burdens lies in our answer to the question on that old-fashioned plaque: Have you prayed about it? --J E Yoder
Give Him each perplexing problem,
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Fretting Is A Waste - Fret (derived from an Old English word fretan meaning "to eat") means to affect something as if by gnawing or biting, to cause to suffer emotional strain, to become vexed or worried, (of a road surface) to become loose so that potholes develop (think about that definition as a word pix of what happens to the one who frets and worries); a state of irritation or anxiety. To corrode, rub, chafe, fray, vex, agitate, ripple, grate, stew, fume, brood, eat one's heart out, agonize, anguish, lose sleep over, obsess about, upset or distress oneself, worry, erode, gall, wear, wear away, annoy, bother, disturb, chagrin, goad, grieve, harass, irk, irritate, nag, nettle, provoke, rankle with, rile, ruffle, torment, trouble. Whew!!!
"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing." (Ps 37:8)
The older we get, the shorter life seems. Author Victor Hugo said, "Short as life is, we make it still shorter by the careless waste of time." There's no sadder example of wasted time than a life dominated by fretting. Take, for example, an American woman whose dream of riding a train through the English countryside came true. After boarding the train she kept fretting about the windows and the temperature, complaining about her seat assignment, rearranging her luggage, and so on. To her shock, she suddenly reached her journey's end. With deep regret she said to the person meeting her, "If I'd known I was going to arrive so soon, I wouldn't have wasted my time fretting so much." It's easy to get sidetracked by problems that won't matter at life's end—difficult neighbors, a tight budget, signs of aging, people who are wealthier than you. Moses acknowledged the brevity of life and prayed, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). Instead of fretting, feed on God's Word and apply it to yourself. Strive to grow in God's wisdom every day. Stay focused on eternal values. Make it your goal to greet your waiting Savior one day with a heart of wisdom, rather than a heart of care. —Joanie Yoder
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Worry casts a big shadow behind a small thing.
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FAITH OR FEAR — WHICH? Be anxious for nothing. Philippians 4:6 - Worry is merely unbelief parading in disguise! The Scriptures repeatedly warn us against this grievous sin. Ian Maclaren ex-claims, "What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it does empty today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it when it comes. God gives us the power to bear all the sorrow of His making, but He does not guarantee to give us strength to bear the burdens of our own making such as worry induces."
An experienced physician decided to analyze the "worriers" who were his patients. He found that 40 percent of them were apprehensive over things that never happened. About 30 percent concerned themselves with past matters now beyond their control. Another 12 percent anxiously feared the loss of their health, although their only illness was in their imagination. And the rest worried about their families, friends, and neighbors, but in most cases he discovered no basis for their fears.
A bassoon player once came to the great conductor Toscanini with furrowed brow and complained that his instrument would not sound the high E flat. Toscanini smiled and replied, "Don't worry. There is no E flat in your music tonight." The musician had been needlessly apprehensive. Many of our worries are like that — unfounded and unnecessary.
Worry is both unprofitable and ungodly. God's grace will be sufficient for each day's need. Take comfort in this thought, and tread the pathway of life with faith, not fear!
I walked life's path with "Worry,"
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ILLUSTRATIONS OF BIBLE TRUTH by Harry A. Ironside - SIMPLICITY IN PRAYER
"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7)
We need to realize that our GOD takes a Fatherly interest in every detail of our lives and bids us bring everything to Him in prayer. Nothing is too small for His concern and nothing is too great for His power.
Years ago, the Free Kirk of Scotland was holding a synodical meeting in the granite city of Aberdeen and worshippers were flocking in from all nearby towns to participate in the services. An aged man was wending his way to the city on foot, when he was overtaken by a young theological student; the two walked on in company. Despite the difference in their ages, they had much in common, and so they enjoyed chatting together as they jogged on toward their intended goal.
At noontime they turned aside to a crassy copse and sat down to eat the lunch which each had brought with him, first giving GOD thanks for His gracious provision. Afterwards the aged pilgrim suggested that they pray together before continuing their journey. The young theologue was a bit embarrassed, but agreed, intimating that the elder man should pray first, which he did. Addressing GOD as His FATHER in all simplicity, he poured out his heart in thanksgiving, then uttered three specific requests: he reminded the LORD that he was very hard of hearing and if he did not get a seat well up to the front in the kirk he would get little out of the sermon that evening, so he asked that a seat be kept for him near enough to the pulpit so he could get the benefit of the message; secondly, he told the LORD that his shoes were badly worn and not fit for city streets; he pleaded for a new pair though he had not the "siller" to purchase them; last of all, he asked for a place to stay for the night, as he knew no one in Aberdeen and did not know where to look for accommodations.
By the time the student's eyes were wide open as he looked upon the old man with mingled disgust and amazement, thinking it the height of impertinence to burden Deity with such trivialities. When his turn came to pray, he delivered himself of an eloquent, carefully composed discourse, which in turn amazed his older companion, who saw in it nothing that indicated a making known of his needs to GOD the FATHER.
Proceeding on their way, they reached the kirk just as the people were crosing in; it was soon evident that there was no longer even standing room left. The student thought, "Now we shall see what becomes of his presumptuous prayers. He'll see that GOD has more to do than to use His time saving a seat for a poor, old, country man." However, someone came out and the old man was just able to squeeze inside the door, where he stood with his hand up to his ear trying to hear what was going on.
Just then, it happened that a young lady in a front pew turned and saw him. She called a sexton and said, "My father told me to hold our pew for him until time for the sermon; then, if he did not get there, to give it to someone else. Evidently, he has been detained. Will you please go back and bring up that old man who has his hand to his ear and is standing just inside the door." In a few moments, petition number one was fully answered.
Now, in Scotland, some folks always kneel for prayer, as the minister leads; others reverently rise to their feet. The old man was the kneeling kind and the young woman always stood. As she looked down, she could not help observing the worn soles on the feet of the kneeling worshipper. Her father was a shoe-dealer! At the close of the service, she delicately approached the subject of the need of a better pair of shoes, and asked if she might take him to her father's store, though closed for the night, and present him with a pair. Needless to say, her offer was accepted as graciously as it was made. So petition number two was answered.
At the store the lady inquired where he was to stay for the night. In all simplicity he answered, "I dinna ken yet. My FATHER has a room for me, but He has no' told me whar it is." Puzzled for a moment, she exclaimed, "O, you mean your FATHER -- GOD! Well, I believe we have that room for you. We were saving our guestroom for the Rev. Dr. Blank, but a telegram came this morning saying he could not come, so now you must just come home with me and be our guest." And so the third petition was granted.
The next day the student inquired as to the outcome of the prayer and was astonished to find that GOD had heard and answered each particular plea. He is never too busy to heed the cries of His needy people. What we all require is more confidence in His love and more earnestness and directness in prayer.
THE LORD IS AT HAND
Paul and the Lord's Advent. That has generally been thought to indicate the Apostle's belief in the Lord's imminent advent, which, as we know, was a prevalent motive with the early Church. If a missionary left his native land, and crossed the ocean with the Evangel, as the burnished mirror of the water shone with the path of the sunbeams, it seemed to him that at any moment, down those sunbeams, the Lord might come. When the primitive Christian said good-bye to his fellow-Christian, it was without too great a pang of regret, because they expected soon to meet in the presence of Christ. Every tremor in the air, every catastrophe, every political change appeared to them like the first note of the archangel's trumpet, like the footfall of the coming Prince. This consciousness of the imminent advent was a mighty lever, by which to lift the whole state of thought and feeling in the early Church to those higher levels, the best and most glorious levels, which the Church of God has ever attained.
But for one or two reasons such does not appear to be the meaning here.
First, the Greek word does not lend itself to that significance. The better rendering undoubtedly would be "the Lord is near."
Secondly, at the end of the third chapter, the Apostle had been dilating upon the expectant attitude in which we wait for the Saviour, and it would be hardly compatible with that to find him immediately saying, The Lord is here. Thirdly, it is interesting to notice that the Apostle's anticipation of the advent of Christ was, as the years passed, largely affected by his growing conception of the nearness of Christ, so that all life was to be lived "in Him." He never gave up his hope of the advent, but he became gloriously influenced by the larger thought that all life must be ensphered in Christ.
The Lord Ever Near. Whilst inditing this paragraph he became suddenly overshadowed with the consciousness that the Lord Jesus Christ was literally present in his hired room, nearer to him than the sentry, nearer to him than Epaphroditus, nearer to him than Timothy, his beloved son, and he burst out with this exclamation, which his amanuensis at once wove into the fabric of the Epistle: "The Lord is near; He is with me in my room, and He is with you in Philippi; and we are all included and encircled in the golden fence of His presence."
There is a similar instance of this in Psalm 119, where the holy author stays in the midst of the royal sweep of his work, and cries: "Thou art near, O God." We all know times like that. We have been walking in the midst of some beautiful landscape, the river rushing past, flowers dipping their cups silently into its brink, the gentle air moving through the quivering leaves above, the insect life humming its varied music, and all nature suffused with the smile of the sun. Then, all suddenly, there has been borne in on us the consciousness of a spiritual presence; we have felt a breath on our faces, a thrill in our hearts, and, behold, He who came to John on the Isle of Patmos has come to us; and, lo, the radiant glory of Christ has excelled that of the sun. "Thou art near, O God; the Lord is near."
To Every One of us. In the church, when saying your prayers mechanically, falling in with the murmur of repetition as you have done a thousand times, standing listlessly listening to the people singing, or joining with them without much heart; sitting apparently intent on the words of the minister whilst your thoughts have been far away on your business or pleasure, suddenly there has been as it were the music of golden bells, and you have realised that the old promise was being fulfilled: "There am I in the midst." Without opening the door, without the sound of a footfall, the Lord Jesus has glided into the shut apartment of your nature, and you have said, "The Lord is near."
The Power of Presence. What a mighty power a presence is to some of us! To a man, the presence of a pure and noble woman has often put a cool hand upon a fevered forehead, stayed the throb of passion, and called him back to sanity and manhood. And to a woman how much there is in the presence of her husband, lover, brother, or friend! How strong and calm she becomes when she is made conscious of that presence! With some of us there is the radiant vision given by memory of a beloved parent, of the sainted minister of our childhood, or of the servant of God whose fragrant biography we have read. How many of us have been calmed, quieted, and restrained by the presence through memory and recollection of someone whom we have loved and lost! How pathetic it was when our late beloved Queen in dying called thrice, "Albert, Albert, Albert!" How certainly those words revealed the presence in which she had lived! Probably there are many men and women whose lives are lived in the consciousness of the presence of the Angel of their pilgrimage. How often we have been restrained from things we are glad we never did, and words we are thankful we never said, by the thought that the angels were at hand, and we knew that they would blush, that their holy natures would be hurt, unless we were strong, gentle, and pure.
But, oh! if every one of us would live, not in the presence of the beloved wife or noble woman; of the strong, brave husband; of the holy memory, or of the peerless angel, but in the presence of the Lord Jesus, saying perpetually to ourselves, "The Lord is near, the Lord is at hand," there is not one of us that would not spring up into an altogether new life, as flowers do when from the arctic they are removed to the tropic soil, and instead of being environed by frost become the nurslings of the sunny air. If every one of us could do as the late Mr. Spurgeon did, who said that he did not recollect spending a quarter of an hour without the distinct thought of the presence of Christ, life would become ever so much better, brighter, and stronger than it is.
The Presence of Christ. The presence of Jesus Christ is brought home to us by the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit of Remembrance, making Him real, recalling our wandering thoughts, and concentrating them on Him until He stands out luminous and kingly in our life. That is Christianity. With too many the Christian religion consists in living back in the past. They linger in Gethsemane rather than in Joseph's garden with its empty grave. This is the life of the Roman Catholic, or of those who have been nursed in Protestant schools of thought, but have never learnt the meaning of the Lord's Ascension. But true Christianity does not postpone the presence of Christ to the future, or recall it from the past, but lives in the sense that He is. Hence the Gospel by St. John contains such recurring phrases as: I am the Vine; I am the Good Shepherd; I am the Door; I am the Resurrection and the Life. Christ lives in the present tense, and blessed is the soul that has learnt that lesson.
The whole of this paragraph (Phil. 4:1-7) crystallizes around this thought.
STEADFASTNESS. Phil. 4:1:
Steadfastness. The man who is backwards and forwards, mercurial, easily up to boiling point, and as soon down to zero, who is on the hooks and off ten times a week, now like a seraph flashing with zeal, now like a snail crawling in lethargy, who is everything by fits and starts and nothing long, will not have a happy Christian experience, nor will his influence tell in the Church or on the world. He may be a genius, but he will be a meteor dying in the dark. It is better to have for a friend and fellow-worker a man of less brilliance and with fewer ideas, who will be occupied by one thought, and give it regular and patient expression. In life, as in war, it is not the man that makes brilliant dashes, but he who can pursue a plan of strategy, week after week, that succeeds.
In the Lord. The source of stability is to stand fast in the Lord. Our only hope of stability is in union with "the Rock."
There is a sculpture in Spain of the Crucifixion, which is the only one of the kind. A fierce light falls on it from a hidden window.
One hand is nailed to the Cross, the other is stretched out. The story is that lovers plighted their troth there, and afterwards, when the man was faithless, the woman came back to plead her case beneath the Cross, and the hand disengaged itself, and stretched towards her, whilst a voice said: "I was witness." Probably, however, the old sculptor meant that if one hand is nailed to the Cross in atonement, the other hand is quick to help; and if you want help to be stable, you will find a very present help in the thought that He is near.
LIKE-MINDEDNESS. Phil. 4:2-3:
Be of the same mind. These two women, Euodia and Syntyche, had fallen out; two women of whom the Apostle says: "They laboured with me in the Gospel," and the Greek word is--they agonised by my side. What a tribute to women! All through the centuries they have wrought beside their ministers. Compute what the churches owe to women. Many of them must have been disbanded if holy women had not bound them together by their presence and their prayer. Think of all the children like Chrysostom--"golden-mouthed"--who have been reared by Christian mothers; of all the hymns in our hymn-books we owe to women. But Euodia and Syntyche had fallen out. They were of different dispositions, and could not understand each other. They had been made on a different plan. Paul knew that neither Clement nor his fellow-labourers could put them right, but that if those two women came into the presence of Jesus they would find it easy to be of one mind. In the presence of the sun hard icicles flow together.
REJOICING. Phil. 4:4:
Rejoice always. When your children are around you, and when crepe is on your knocker; when your books show a good profit on the year's trading, and when your best schemes have miscarried; "Rejoice always." Amid your tears keep a trustful, restful, joyful heart, not rejoicing in your gifts, in your successes, in your friends, but in Him--rejoice in the Lord, in the presence of the Lord, for He is always there. The secret of perennial joy is in the realised companionship of the Redeemer.
FORBEARANCE. Phil. 4:5:
Moderation. The Revised Version says forbearance. We should say in modern English sweet reasonableness. Luther, in his translation, renders it yieldingness. Of course, we can never yield principle; we can never yield to men who are doing the devil's work in the world; but a good many have edges and corners which concern temperament rather than principle, and we who know them ought to yield, just as the boat in descending a very narrow streamlet has to take the course of the stream. It is easy to bear all, to endure all, to believe all, when the overshadowing presence of the Lord Jesus is realised.
GARRISONED IN CHRIST. Phil. 4:7:
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. It is only in the presence of Christ that this peace becomes Ours.
Worded and anxious with the fluctuation of stock and share markets, his employees and subordinates trying him; the master unreasonable; affairs in a tangle; a man comes home from his day's work feeling thoroughly out of heart. His wife meets him at the door, her face calm and restful; there is a sense of peace and serenity, like the scent of flowers, in the room where she had been awaiting him. She knows that the frost has gathered about him, as the frost gathered on the Majestic one winter day when it came into New York harbour, after battling with the Atlantic. She ministers to his needs, and presently elicits, without seeming to do it, the story of the day. Without realising the change which is transpiring, he pours his confidence into her ear, and as he does so, the thaw sets in, his heart softens, and by and by it seems as though the white-robed Angel of Peace passes from her heart to his to keep its affections and thoughts. We all know something like that; and that is the idea of the Apostle, to live in the presence of Jesus, and to turn to Him from every anxiety and worry, so as to allow His presence to saturate and soothe the soul.
The Lord is at hand. Say it when you need to be stable. Say it when Euodia has quarrelled with Syntyche. Say it when your joy threatens to fail. Say it when you are irritated and think there is no reason you should yield so persistently to another. Say it when you are worded and anxious. Until you come into that presence many things will seem impossible, which beneath the light of those deep tender eyes will become easy as newly mown lawns to tired feet.
Are you one to whom the presence of Jesus is dreadful? Then Heaven can be no place for you, where He is Lord. Bring your strong will to Him; ask Him to break or bend it; give yourself to Him, and ask the Holy Spirit that from this moment, in temptation, in sin, when torn with conviction, when smarting with pain, in perplexity, in death, and in judgment, the one thought of your life may be that the Lord is at hand. (F. B. Meyer. The Epistle to the Philippians - A Devotional Commentary)