“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
It is easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? Paul does not leave us in a vacuum here… he goes on to prescribe:“Pray about everything!”
God’s Word exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 states: “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.” If you check alternate readings, the first verse reads that God is “abundantly available for help in tight places.” As a result of our prayers, God can deliver us from tight places.
Paul was delivered from many, many tight places. For example, he asked the Philippians to pray that he might be delivered from prison. They prayed, and he was delivered from his imprisonment at that time. We should therefore always pray in a crisis. Someone said, “When it is hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”
Paul knew from personal experience, however, that God does not always take our problems away. He had a physical “thorn in the flesh” condition that he asked God three times to take away. Paul saw many people healed as he ministered the power of the Holy Spirit to them. Yet, when he asked God to solve his health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.” God essentially said, “Tell you what I’m going to do, Paul. I’m going to give you the grace to cope with your problem.” (IICorinthians 12.)
When God gave Paul the grace to cope with his problem, he discovered that the power of Christ was upon him in a mighty way… So Paul not only accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he gloried in the whole experience of learning that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul explains that his weakness became a showcase in which the strength of God was exhibited.
Paul learned from personal experience that, while worry is not productive, prayer is always very productive. Prayer may deliver us from our problems, or it may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray. Always pray about everything.
“Tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer.” (J.B. Phillips.) Always pray about everything!
Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace