Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.…
In everything make your request known unto God, and then be careful for nothing. It is committed into God's hands, rest and rejoice. These early converts were filled with an overwhelming sense of the blessings with which their lives were crowned. They found it easier to praise than we do.
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF DELIVERANCE FROM CARE is placed by our Lord, in the Sermon on the Mount, in a two-fold light.
1. The things about which we are tempted to be careful are "things that perish." Their worth is but for a little time, and stretches but a little way. What matters a little more or less of earthly treasure. The soul's satisfaction is independent of it. The true and enduring riches are within reach. To men who believed in and pined for the heavenly treasure, the appeal was conclusive. What matters the earthly substance which moth and rust are wasting daily, when we have a glorious treasure which defies decay and violence. They believed this and were careful for nothing. We believe less and are consumed with care.
2. This superiority to earthly things demands a keen discernment, a pure unworldly heart, which are rare. Who is sufficient for these things. The Saviour, pitying our infirmity, has another assurance to meet the needs of our trembling apprehensive natures. "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." We are not alone in this great universe, whose awful order, indifferent to our needs, strikes a shivering dread into our hearts. Behind the veil a Father is watching and caring, and by His vigilant providence is adding, in the measure in which He sees we need them, all these things unto us. Be careful for nothing; rest calmly in the care of God.
3. But we can not only rest but pray. He is no unknown Friend to whom we can commend our cause and then leave it. He is here in the silent sanctuary of our hearts. Perhaps our requests are shortsighted and foolish. Be it so. The best thing that we can do is to take them to God, and lay them before Him. His light will reveal, His fire consume the sensual, selfish element in our petitions; His burning presence will purify our hearts, and make our prayers powerful with Him. Prayer is the channel of communication between the careworn soul and its helper; and it fills its desolation with the sense of a living, loving presence, which charges the very atmosphere with benediction; it quickens a pulse of joy and hope in the numbness of its despair. He who has never known what prayer can do to calm a troubled and uplift a despairing spirit is dead to the deepest, richest experience of life.
II. But it must be THE PRAYER OF FAITH.
1. Christians complain bitterly that their prayers are not answered. But they do not understand the conditions. God nowhere binds Himself to answer our shortsighted requests. Did we see more clearly we should tremble lest He should. That would prove His heaviest chastisement. But He binds Himself to answer our prayers, in His own way. No praying soul is sent empty away.
2. The prayer of faith is the prayer which recognizes God as the supreme and perfect God. No man is in the way of blessing until he understands that in God alone can he be supremely blessed. Until he has made God his portion there is the deepest want of his being unsatisfied. This being recognized his wants fall into their true proportion. They are not extinguished, but they are no more imperative. It is no longer, Give me this or I die; it is, Give me Thyself and I live; and this, Give or withhold at Thy will. I have all, and abound in Thee.
3. The prayer of faith seeks conformity with the mind of God, without which it is idle to hope or pray for peace. Nine-tenths of our cares grow out of our mad desires for some unreal and delusive good. All cares that eat into the soul arise really from a striving against God. The first request of prayer is, "Show me Thy will, and rule my will by Thine. Root out self-will, tame passion, calm desire, bring me into harmony with Thy pure and perfect mind, and then bestow what Thou seest is for my good." When a soul has said that, its brooding cares and wearing sorrows have gone as the mists of the morning vanish in the sunlight.
4. The prayer of faith never leaves out of its account the Hand that is always working for our deliverance, and never so mightily as when the storm gathers, and the great waters seem to overwhelm. And the prayer of faith never fails.
(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.