Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.…
I. THE MISTAKE FROM WHICH WE ARE DISSUADED. "Be careful for nothing."
1. This does not mean that we are to be stoically indifferent, and just to take life as it comes. Such a notion would be the death of all holy manly ambition, and would mean "good for nothing." Man is not intended to be the sport of circumstances. His duties imply an earnest exercise of his powers, which is impossible without a measure of solicitude. Note the commendation which "carefulness" receives in 2 Corinthians 7:11. Were a Christian to fall into indifference Christianity would be gone.
2. The mistake against which we are dissuaded is that of laying the mind open to the worries which are ready to invade it — the disposition condemned in Martha. St. Paul would have us rise into the calm region of faith above all fret and paralysing fear.
3. Such an exhortation is not uncalled for. Over anxiety is one of the commonest of sins. Strange that it should be so. we profess to believe that the Lord knows our sorrows, that His peace is sufficient, that He supplies all our need, and causes all things to work together for good. Surely such a belief should make us trustful, fearless, and calm. We may well cry, "Help our unbelief."
II. THE INSTRUMENTALITY FOR THE REPRESSION OF OVER ANXIETY (Psalm 62:8).
1. "Let your requests," etc. True, God knows our needs before we pray; but we may, nevertheless, find relief in telling them out to Him with the confiding love of a child. Enlightened prayer does not ask for miracle or any change in the Divine will. It only implies that asking is one of the appointed conditions of receiving, that the giving of the best things that the soul craves is the sole prerogative of God.
2. "In everything." Prayer properly belongs to the whole of our condition. Whatever touches our life is important enough to be taken to the "throne of grace."
3. "By prayer and supplication." The language implies entreaty. Not "vain repetitions," not noise as if God were afar off or indifferent, but the fresh warm cry of the hungry for bread.
4. "With thanksgiving." Prayer should be animated with gratitude. While we are with God let us think of His goodness in welcoming us, His former gracious answers, His countless undeserved and even unsought blessings. Gratitude is one of the sweetest and most useful ingredients. Whilst it honours God it disposes to that faith without which we cannot pray aright. So we come to that trust which is the antithesis of inordinate anxiety. In prayer, distrust is distraction, and distraction weakness. The prayer of faith is the natural and appointed instrumentality for the repression of over anxiety.
III. THE METHOD IN WHICH THIS INSTRUMENTALITY WORKS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF THE DESIRED RESULT. Peace comes by power and power by prayer.
1. In prayer itself there is often a priceless enjoyment.
2. We obtain specific answers to prayers; not always, indeed, according to our fancies, but invariably according to God's all-wise and perfect goodness, which is immeasurably preferable.
3. It is in the nature of prayer to soothe away unnecessary anxiety, and to sweeten such solicitudes as are wholesome; for prayer takes us into the presence of God, where all is calm.
(J. P. Barnett.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.