Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Living a life free of worry and anxiety sounds wonderful. But is that really possible? How can followers of Jesus live this kind of life?
While this verse might seem pretty simple to understand, there is much we can glean from taking a deeper dive into the Philippians 4:6 meaning. What we are going to see in this verse is not just a command to not be anxious about anything, but help in how we can do so.
If you take a few minutes to look at this verse your life and your faith will be enriched. Let’s dive into the Philippians 4:6 meaning and how it applies to your life.
The Context Of Philippians 4:6 – 7
Many of the New Testament books are actually letters. And these letters were written to a real group of people who faced real life problems. These letters, mostly written by the Apostle Paul, were addressing these people and their unique circumstances.
For us to understand how to properly apply Paul’s letter to our life we need to understand the circumstances in which they were written.
This letter was written by Paul and addressed to the church in Philippi. Paul felt a great kinship with this church that went back years (Act 16).
Now the city of Philippi was a polytheistic culture that did not exactly welcome Paul when he first visited. They were stripped, beaten with rods, severely flogged, and thrown in prison (Acts 16:19-23). Despite this the church in Philippi remained strong and supported Paul in his ministry.
Fast-forward awhile and things are starting to look more and more bleak for this church. Paul is under house arrest, they are starting to face persecution (Philippians 1:29), church members were acting selfishly (Philippians 2), false teaching was arising (Philippians 3), and Paul even calls out two women by name (Philippians 4:2).
Things are going well. So it might seem a little surprising that Paul intentionally focuses on joy and rejoicing through this letter to the Philippian church. (Philippians 1:4, 18, 2:2, 3:1, 4:4)
This church is facing external pressures and internal issues. Paul is challenging this church to not look at their circumstances for joy, but rather to look to God. It’s possible to rejoice in our suffering when we root ourselves in Christ.
As Paul starts to wrap up this letter with one final command to rejoice (Philippians 4:4), he ends with the solution for how to do so. And that’s what leads us to the verse we are looking at.
So, now that we know the context, let’s dive into the Philippians 4:6 meaning.
Philippians 4:6 Meaning
To help us understand what this verse is saying to us today I want to go through it section by section.
Do Not Be Anxious About Anything…
When Paul says, “do not be anxious about anything” he’s referring to anxiety that overwhelms and consumes. Not a general worry or care. We know this because earlier in his letter Paul commends Timothy for being anxious over the welfare of his people (Philippians 2:20). We should be positively concerned for others, but not unduly worried about anything.
The goal is clearly set and steep. But really this verse should be read more as an encouragement. We need not worry because we have a good God who cares about us and what we are going through.
For many they only know this first section of the verse. However in the later parts Paul is going to tell us why and how we cannot be anxious about anything.
We should also note that some struggle with severe anxiety. Some will claim that a proper faith will heal all anxiety. But that’s a misinformed view. For those struggling with anxiety that will not dissipate a visit to a doctor is the wise thing to do. God can remove your anxiety through prayer; he can also help you manage it through medication. You should do both.
But In Every Situation, By Prayer And Petition, With Thanksgiving…
Do not be anxious about anything… So what should we do in instead? Paul is about to give us the answer.
We should in EVERY situation pray and petition with thanksgiving.
The picture Paul is painting is that we shouldn’t pray once. Rather we should keep going to God with our needs. Every time we are anxious we should take that before God.
Paul tacks onto this by saying that we should do this with thankfulness. This is the heart in which we should be going before God. Why thankful? Because we have a God who cares and is invested in what we are facing. But not only that, when we express gratitude it changes our hearts.
Present Your Requests To God…
God is a good father who cares for his children. Therefore we should present our requests and our needs to him.
What Paul is saying is when we are worrying about something we should bring it to God. On our own we are powerless to change the thing we are worried about. But God is the one who can actually bring change and healing.
If you have time to worry you have time to pray. I tend to avoid Christian platitudes because I think they often do more harm than good. But I think there’s some truth in this one. Our worry should draw us to our father in prayer.
And The Peace Of God Will…
Philippians 4:7 tells what will happen if we do the above. We will find peace. Not peace dependent on our circumstances. But peace that transcends understanding.
The peace of God is found in a person. Jesus. And we can experience that peace even when our lives are falling apart.
5 Lessons From Philippians 4:6 – 7
I want to end by giving you 5 quick lessons that you can pull from the Philippians 4:6 meaning.
1. God’s Got You
Fear and worry builds when we place the burdens in our life on ourselves. All throughout the Bible we are reminded that God is with us and he will care for us.
Philippians 4:6 is another reminder that God’s got us. We need to not worry because God will not let us down.
2. Prayer Is Powerful
In just this short verse Paul mentions prayer 4 times. Each time Paul uses a different word for prayer. He’s showing us how powerful prayer is and what it does in our life.
First he uses a general term for our communication with God (proseuche). Then our petitions (deesis) for our needs. Thanksgiving (eucharistias) for what God has done in our life. And finally presenting our specific requests (aitemata).
The bottom line is prayer is powerful. It does things that we cannot fully comprehend on this side of heaven.
For more about prayer check out: What Is Prayer? (plus 9 powerful tips on how to pray effectively)
3. Worry Can’t Change Anything
Jesus says that worrying cannot add a single hour to our life (Luke 12:25-26). Paul is echoing that sentiment here, worry accomplishes nothing. In fact it does the opposite. It takes from us and gives nothing in return.
The Philippians 4:6 meaning is a challenge for us to look to our Heavenly Father who is in control.
4. Practice Gratitude
It almost seems out of place that in the middle of Philippians 4:6 Paul throws in “with thankfulness.” But I don’t think that’s a mistake. It’s hard to worry when we practice gratitude and notice all the ways that God has provided for us in the past.
5. Peace Is Found In A Person, Not Circumstances
We often think peace is found when we have a peaceful life. When things are going as planed and tragedy stays away.
But the Bible teaches us a different lesson. Peace is found not in our circumstance, but in a person. Jesus.
Jesus never promised us an easy life. But he did promise us peace in his presence. That’s what Paul is reminding us of in Philippians 4:6.
Closing Thoughts On The Philippians 4:6 – 7 Meaning
Philippians 4:6 – 7 is a powerful verse for us today. It should be a verse that we commit to memory. And when anxious thoughts start to grip our life and control our thoughts we should mediate on these words. Practice the lessons. And find the peace that God has for us.
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