Prayer is the means by which we recognize that we cannot and should not be concerned about things outside of our grasp, and therefore we petition God. But if prayer is mostly about asking God for things, and less about recognizing his presence, provision and protection in our lives, our relationship with God will be poor and pitiful, leaving us anxious and tired.
Observation and reflection
Note: ‘Supplication’ means asking God for things.
- Analyze Paul’s instruction about prayer.
- What should we NOT EVER do?
- And what should we ALWAYS do?
- What is the PROMISE in these verses?
- What is the PREMISE to the PROMISE in this these verses?
- Note the words ANYTHING, EVERYTHING and ALL. How does this influence the instruction to not worry but pray?
Personal Reflections and Application
We tend to worry about things that might go wrong, and this causes anxiety in us – which is unhealthy and unhelpful. Paul’s antidote to anxiety is simple: before we ask God for things, give thanks to God for his work in our lives. In this way I remind myself that God is actively involved in my life everyday life. Thanking makes us aware of God’s presence, provision and protection – reminding me that God is with me; I am not alone! Thanksgiving stirs my faith, my joy and my hope as it lifts my eyes from the problems to my Provider.
- Consider the typical prayer you pray. How much of your conversation is asking God for things, and how much is recognizing God’s gracious activity in your life?
- Before we pray:
- Make a list of the things that cause you anxiety – your concerns and needs. Convert those to petitions to God for help.
- Make a list of ten things where you can clearly recognize God’s involvement in your life recently.
- Pray in this way:
- First take your time to thank God for the areas where you can see his presence, provision and protection (areas of involvement) in your life. Try standing up and lift your hands when you do this!
- Now bring your petitions to God, knowing that he is near and involved in every aspect of your life.
- Reflect on how you feel. Do you feel the peace of “heart and mind” that Paul promises in these verses?