4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4: 4-9
It seems that modern society values two things: busyness and worries. We’re either too busy to have time with God or we’re worrying about everything that God already has under control*. The first part of Philippians 4:6 is a common catchphrase among Christians–“do not be anxious about anything”–yet we often fail to look to what book-ends this phrase.
Before the anxiousness comes rejoicing and then more rejoicing. Paul instructs the church at Philippi and the modern church likewise to “Rejoice always!” And what’s the cause of rejoicing? The Lord. We are instructed to rejoice in the Lord. That means look around and see God’s work and presence and be full of joy. We rejoice because we know that “the Lord is near”.
Following, or rather replacing, the anxiousness is prayer, but it’s not a grocery list prayer of all of your anxieties. It’s a prayer of thanksgiving. This is not to say that God doesn’t want to hear of your anxieties (see 1 Peter 5:7). After you’ve prayed and released your anxieties to God with thanksgiving, fill your mind with thoughts of things above. Paul instructs us to think on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, full of excellence, and worthy of praise. Most definitely this does not include your anxieties.
It’s not an empty command without reward though; God promises something in return for exchanging anxiety for prayer. Verse seven of this passage promises that the peace of God will come into your life if you give your cares over to God and think on the things of above. And that’s not the peace you see written on Christmas cards. This is a peace that passes all understanding. It’s the kind of peace that lets you stand in the middle of a hospital and thank God for life. It’s the kind of peace that allows you to sing songs of praise to God even when everything seems to be crashing down around you.
In conclusion, I encourage you to cast off your worries as if you’d cast off your winter coat on a blistering hot day. Fill your mind with prayers to God and always be on the lookout for the ways that He reveals your presence. Just slow down and breathe.
*I feel motivated to make the note that I do not think this passage is commenting on the mental disorder called anxiety. This passage seems to be referring to the nagging worries that we let control our minds and actions on a daily basis. Granted, those that are diagnosed with anxiety will receive relief through God’s power, so by no means do I say they are exempt from the power of prayer. God still heals.