A Positive Response
Developing a faith that can trust the Lord Jesus Christ in any situation involves the process of spiritual growth. None of us really know how much we can endure until we are put in the crucible of trial. We see Paul writing from the Philippian jail with the mindset he had developed that helped him trust the Lord with every part of his being. Continuing where we left off earlier this week, we read his words when he writes, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God”, (Phil. 4:6 NASB). Earlier we were talking about the problem of anxiety and with the word “but”, Paul sets a contrast as to how the Philippians and we should respond to trials and difficulties, instead of being anxious. The exhortation to pray is based on the admonition not to be anxious. I think too often we rush into God’s presence and hastily tell Him our needs, when we should approach His throne calmly and in deepest reverence, bowing before the God of the universe. Paul exhorted the Philippians to pray instead of being anxious and notice the word “everything”. I think we tend to feel that we can deal with the little stuff ourselves, we don’t need to bother God with the small stuff, but God is interested in every aspect of our lives. We want to consider the four words that Paul used the describe the believer’s communion with God.
The first word is the word “prayer”. Prayer describes the believer’s approach to God, and it is a technical term for calling on a deity that contains with it the warmth of genuine conversation. The first condition for a secure mind and victory over worrying is right praying. Prayer is the translation of the Greek word which speaks of prayer addressed to God as an act of worship and devotion. We are reminded in the book of Hebrews that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who understands our needs and we can come to Him with confidence. We read, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need,” (Heb.4:15,16 NASB).
The second word that we see in this verse is the word “supplications” or “petitions”. This is a word that speaks of presenting one’s needs or requesting an answer to a specific need over an extended period of time. It carries with it the idea of a great deal of intensity. I was recently burdened to pray for the young man in our church who was having serious liver cancer surgery last week. It was not only for his surgery that I prayed about but also for his safety in going into this hospital at this critical time of need. It was with a similar intensity that I sought God as well in prayer for my son Matt, who was having problems getting approved for unemployment in Michigan. It’s a pretty difficult situation if you do not have any source of income to live off of. Praise be to God, that prayer was answered earlier this week. James reminds us of being diligent in our prayer life when he tells us that, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much,” (James 5:16b NASB). We have certainly seen some rather powerful miracles of God’s healing touch in people’s lives as we pray specifically for their needs.
The third word is the word “thanksgiving”. Thanksgiving is an attitude of gratitude that flows from a grateful heart. All of our prayers should always be accompanied by thanksgiving and gratitude for the kindness and care of our great God. In our personal and corporate devotions, we should have a thankful heart for what Jesus Christ has done for us, this attitude of gratitude should always be present in our prayers. During dinner on Wednesday night I broke off a crown on one of my teeth. I was very thankful I didn’t swallow it while I was eating my dinner and I’m even glad now that I have a dentist appointment on Monday morning to get it fixed. Being able to get out and go someplace is something to be thankful for, even if it’s the dentist. Thanksgiving gives power to prayer and frees us from worrying over things by reminding ourselves that God is the one who is the giver of all good things. After adoration and supplication comes appreciation. As parents we love to hear our children say, “thank you”. God knows what we need before we ask, but when we give Him thanks, we’re expressing our trust and our fellowship of reliance upon Him.
The final word that we will consider is the word “request”. The translation of this word puts the emphasis on the objects that are asked for, namely specific or definite things. I think this word is closely related to corporate prayer and I believe there’s power and healing that is unleashed when we unite in corporate prayer. We are not to keep our problems in isolation from our brothers and sisters in Christ, for that leads only to more anxiety and worry. There is a mutual burden bearing that occurs when we share our burdens with one another and a release of the anxiety the problems may be creating. Paul reminds the Galatians of this when he writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ”, (Gal.6:2 NASB). How can we bear one another’s burdens and pray for each other effectively if we don’t know what the burdens are? I believe praying together in a corporate setting can bring unusual psychological and even physicalogical healing, as we have seen here as a church praying together for very serious needs.
So, let us replace our anxiety and worry over the current situation that we are living through with a sense of prayerful trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, who knows all of our needs even before we ask. Remember, it was Jesus who said as He was leaving this world to return the heaven, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matt.28:20b NASB). Let us focus on our great Savior and trust that He will continue to provide, guide and open up doors so that we may serve Him and do His will. Hope you will join with us on our church’s website at newdurhamchapel.org for our live video streaming of this Sundays message entitled, “The Light has Come”. Be safe and be blessed.
For God’s Glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo