As a new believer, Philippians 4:6-7 was one of the first verses that I memorized. I loved the fact, and still do, that I could present my anxious thoughts and difficult situations to God and He would take them and in return He would give me His peace. This allowed me to take my focus off myself and place it on God. Paul states in every situation by prayer and petition present your requests to God. The word petition suggests an intensity of prayer such that we fully transfer our requests into God’s hands, trusting in His faithfulness to handle them.
On further study, I saw that the verse stated “with thanksgiving.” Now this was more difficult to do. The verse does not mean that we are to thank God for everything but “within everything”, recognizing that He hears us and will work on our behalf trusting that He is a wise and loving Father. The practice of thankfulness is well known to be one of the best antidotes to worry. Physicians have even been known to prescribe this practice to anxious patients.
If we entrust God with our concerns with thanksgiving and do not take them back, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Paul’s use of the word guard here may reflect the fact that while writing this letter, he was being guarded in a Roman prison. The peace that God promises transcends or goes beyond our understanding and beyond our circumstances.
Paul then moves on from our hearts to our minds where anxiety often starts—what if…? Instead, Paul exhorts us to focus on whatever is true, noble etc. We are to fill our minds with those things that help us to worship God and serve others. As we all know, this is easier said than done. First, we need to be careful what we let into our minds through reading, social media or what we view. Second, in order to develop a focus on God, it is helpful to meditate on God’s word, pray, worship and fellowship with other believers.
Finally, Paul asks the Philippians to practice what they have seen him do and Paul promises that if they do likewise then the peace of God will be with them. They will experience not only the peace of God but also the actual presence of God.
- Which part of this passage is most challenging for you? How can you practice focusing on what is true, noble, etc.?
by Bonnie Tesch