“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Explanation and Commentary of Philippians 4:6
Jesus and the New Testament authors seemed to think that we can have some control over our emotions (Jn 14:1). Here, Paul deals with the problem of anxiety or worrying about some possible and uncontrollable outcome. But these situations can be dealt with by prayer. Feelings, like anxiety, can be managed by a reorientation of thoughts. Praying to God, speaking out the truth about the situation and about God’s ability to manage it, can convince those parts of the brain where anxiety and fear are generated. Peace comes when God sends his Spirit to comfort us and when we truly believe that we can cast our burdens on the Lord (Ps 55:22).
When we pray, we are to present our requests with thankfulness. First, this builds faith in us as we rehearse the truth that God is indeed able to help us, and his nature is that he is willing to help us. He would not command us to pray to him if he were not a God who answers prayer. We thank him when we pray because we know that he will answer our prayers in whatever way is truly for our best. If he answers us in exactly the way we hope and gives us what we desire and pray for, we thank him. If he answers us in a different, but right way, we thank him because we trust him and know that he knows better than we do what is good for us. In this way, it is anxiety that leaves as peace comes in to replace it.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Philippians 4:6
#1 “Do not be anxious…”
This encouragement reads as a command. God would not command something that was impossible for us to obey by his Spirit. We should be comforted by this fact, especially if we are anxious and in need of his help and his peace.
#2 “…about anything, but in every situation,”
The scope of this is total. There is nothing in existence that falls outside of it. What should we be anxious about? Nothing. Which situations should we pray about? Every situation. God is on his throne. His kingdom never ends. There is nothing outside his power or concern.
#3 “by prayer and petition,”
Prayer is conversing with God. Going to him to speak to him is praying. Petition is a kind of prayer. It is a formal request for something from an entity that has the power to grant it. God has all the power that there is and will either grant our petitions or give us peace when granting our petitions would not be the best thing for us and others.
#4 “with thanksgiving,”
Thankfulness is a key mood enhancer. The deliberate practice of thanksgiving tells the emotions what to do and how to have confidence. It shifts the focus from what we don’t have to what we have. It signals to God that we trust him. It signals to ourselves the same thing. Being thankful helps us to have joy and peace, rather than fear and anxiety.
#5 “present your requests to God.”
God is your good Father. Because of the mediation of his Son, bought with his own blood, we can come boldly and confidently into his presence (Heb 4:16), into the holiest place where the Spirit of God dwells in our hearts and make our requests known to him. When we do, God moves heaven and earth and gives us peace that destroys our anxiety.
Bible Study on Philippians 4:6
Expert Overview of Philippians
Biblical Translations of Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.