Philippians 4:6
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
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(6) Be careful for nothing.—An exact repetition of our Lord’s command, “Take no thought” (in Matthew 6:25; Matthew 6:34). The prohibition is of that painful anxiety which is inevitable in all who feel themselves alone in mere self-dependence amidst the difficulties and dangers of life. It is possible to sink below this anxiety in mere levity and thoughtlessness; it is possible to rise above it by “casting our care on Him who careth for us,” and knowing that we are simply “fellow-workers with Him” (1Peter 5:7; 2Corinthians 6:1). Hence the Apostle passes on at once to speak of the trustfulness of prayer.

Prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.—By “prayer” is meant worship generally, so called (as in common parlance now) because in this state of imperfection prayer must be its leading element, as praise will be in the perfection of the future. (See Acts 2:42, where “the prayers” are among the essential marks of church membership.) To this general word is subjoined the distinction of the two great elements of worship, “supplication with thanksgiving.” The very expression, however, shows that, though distinct, they are inseparable. (See Ephesians 6:18, and Note there.) Both words “prayer” and “supplication” have the article in the original, and may probably refer to the recognised worship of the Church.



Php 4:6.

It is easy for prosperous people, who have nothing to trouble them, to give good advices to suffering hearts; and these are generally as futile as they are easy. But who was he who here said to the Church at Philippi, ‘Be careful for nothing?’ A prisoner in a Roman prison; and when Rome fixed its claws it did not usually let go without drawing blood. He was expecting his trial, which might, so far as he knew, very probably end in death. Everything in the future was entirely dark and uncertain. It was this man, with all the pressure of personal sorrows weighing upon him, who, in the very crisis of his life, turned to his brethren in Philippi, who had far fewer causes of anxiety than he had, and cheerfully bade them ‘be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make their requests known unto God.’ Had not that bird learned to sing when his cage was darkened? And do you not think that advice of that sort, coming not from some one perched up on a safe hillock to the strugglers in the field below, but from a man in the thick of the fight, would be like a trumpet-call to them who heard it?

Now, here are two things. There is an apparently perfectly impossible advice, and there is the only course that will make it possible.

I. An apparently impossible advice.

‘Be careful for nothing.’ I do not need to remind you--for I suppose that we all know it--that that word ‘careful,’ in a great many places in the New Testament, does not mean what, by the slow progress of change in the significance of words, it has come to mean to-day; but it means what it should still mean, ‘full of care,’ and ‘care’ meant, not prudent provision, forethought, the occupation of a man’s common-sense with his duty and his work and his circumstances, but it meant the thing which of all others unfits a man most for such prudent provision, and that is, the nervous irritation of a gnawing anxiety which, as the word in the original means, tears the heart apart and makes a man quite incapable of doing the wise thing, or seeing the wise thing to do, in the circumstances. We all know that; so that I do not need to dwell upon it. ‘Careful’ here means neither more nor less than ‘anxious.’

But I may just remind you how harm has been done, and good has been lost and missed, by people reading that modern meaning into the word. It is the same word which Christ employed in the exhortation ‘Take no thought for to-morrow.’ It is a great pity that Christian people sometimes get it into their heads that Christ prohibited what common-sense demands, and what everybody practises. ‘Taking thought for the morrow’ is not only our duty, but it is one of the distinctions which make us ‘much better than’ the fowls of the air, that have no barns in which to store against a day of need. But when our Lord said, ‘Take no thought for the morrow,’ he did not mean ‘Do not lay yourselves out to provide for common necessities and duties,’ but ‘Do not fling yourselves into a fever of anxiety, nor be too anxious to anticipate the "fashion of uncertain evils."‘

But even with that explanation, is it not like an unreachable ideal that Paul puts forward here? ‘Be anxious about nothing’--how can a man who has to face the possibilities that we all have to face, and who knows himself to be as weak to deal with them as we all are: how can he help being anxious? There is no more complete waste of breath than those sage and reverend advices which people give us, not to do the things, nor to feel the emotions, which our position make absolutely inevitable and almost involuntary. Here, for instance, is a man surrounded by all manner of calamity and misfortune; and some well-meaning but foolish friend comes to him, and, without giving him a single reason for the advice, says, ‘Cheer up! my friend.’ Why should he cheer up? What is there in his circumstances to induce him to fall into any other mood? Or some unquestionable peril is staring him full in the face, coming nearer and nearer to him, and some well-meaning, loose-tongued friend, says to him, ‘Do not be afraid!’--but he ought to be afraid. That is about all that worldly wisdom and morality have to say to us, when we are in trouble and anxiety. ‘Shut your eyes very hard, and make believe very much, and you will not fear.’ An impossible exhortation! Just as well bid a ship in the Bay of Biscay not to rise and fall upon the wave, but to keep an even keel. Just as well tell the willows in the river-bed that they are not to bend when the wind blows, as come to me, and say to me, ‘Be careful about nothing.’ Unless you have a great deal more than that to say, I must be, and I ought to be, anxious, about a great many things. Instead of anxiety being folly, it will be wisdom; and the folly will consist in not opening our eyes to facts, and in not feeling emotions that are appropriate to the facts which force themselves against our eyeballs. Threadbare maxims, stale, musty old commonplaces of unavailing consolation and impotent encouragement say to us, ‘Do not be anxious.’ We try to stiffen our nerves and muscles in order to bear the blow; or some of us, more basely still, get into a habit of feather-headed levity, making no forecasts, nor seeing even what is plainest before our eyes. But all that is of no use when once the hot pincers of real trouble, impending or arrived, lay hold of our hearts. Then of all idle expenditures of breath in the world there is none to the wrung heart more idle and more painful than the one that says, Be anxious about nothing.

II. So we turn to the only course that makes the apparent impossibility possible.

Paul goes on to direct to the mode of feeling and action which will give exemption from the else inevitable gnawing of anxious forethought. He introduces his positive counsel with an eloquent ‘But,’ which implies that what follows is the sure preservative against the temper which he deprecates; ‘But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.’

There are, then, these alternatives. If you do not like to take the one, you are sure to have to take the other. There is only one way out of the wood, and it is this which Paul expands in these last words of my text. If a man does not pray about everything, he will be worried about most things. If he does pray about everything, he will not be troubled beyond what is good for him, about anything. So there are these alternatives; and we have to make up our minds which of the two we are going to take. The heart is never empty. If not full of God, it will be full of the world, and of worldly care. Luther says somewhere that a man’s heart is like a couple of millstones; if you don’t put something between them to grind, they will grind each other. It is because God is not in our hearts that the two stones rub the surface off one another. So the victorious antagonist of anxiety is trust, and the only way to turn gnawing care out of my heart and life is to usher God into it, and to keep him resolutely in it.

‘In everything.’ If a thing is great enough to threaten to make me anxious, it is great enough for me to talk to God about. If He and I are on a friendly footing, the instinct of friendship will make me speak. If so, how irrelevant and superficial seem to be discussions whether we ought to pray about worldly things, or confine our prayers entirely to spiritual and religious matters. Why! if God and I are on terms of friendship and intimacy of communication, there will be no question as to what I am to talk about to Him; I shall not be able to keep silent as to anything that interests me. And we are not right with God unless we have come to the point that entire openness of speech marks our communications with Him, and that, as naturally as men, when they come home from business, like to tell their wives and children what has happened to them since they left home in the morning, so naturally we talk to our Friend about everything that concerns us. ‘In everything let your requests be made known unto God.’ That is the wise course, because a multitude of little pimples may be quite as painful and dangerous as a large ulcer. A cloud of gnats may put as much poison into a man with their many stings as will a snake with its one bite. And if we are not to get help from God by telling Him about little things, there will be very little of our lives that we shall tell Him about at all. For life is a mountain made up of minute flakes. The years are only a collection of seconds. Every man’s life is an aggregate of trifles. ‘In everything make your requests known.’

‘By prayer’--that does not mean, as a superficial experience of religion is apt to suppose it to mean, actual petition that follows. For a great many of us, the only notion that we have of prayer is asking God to give us something that we want. But there is a far higher region of communion than that, in which the soul seeks and finds, and sits and gazes, and aspiring possesses, and possessing aspires. Where there is no spoken petition for anything affecting outward life, there may be the prayer of contemplation such as the burning seraphs before the Throne do ever glow with. The prayer of silent submission, in which the will bows itself before God; the prayer of quiet trust, in which we do not so much seek as cleave; the prayer of still fruition--these, in Paul’s conception of the true order, precede ‘supplication.’ And if we have such union with God, by realising His presence, by aspiration after Himself, by trusting Him and submission to Him, then we have the victorious antagonist of all our anxieties, and the ‘cares that infest the day shall fold their tents’ and ‘silently steal away.’ For if a man has that union with God which is effected by such prayer as I have been speaking about, it gives him a fixed point on which to rest amidst all perturbations. It is like bringing a light into a chamber when thunder is growling outside, which prevents the flashing of the lightning from being seen.

Years ago an ingenious inventor tried to build a vessel in such a fashion as that the saloon for passengers should remain upon one level, howsoever the hull might be tossed by waves. It was a failure, if I remember rightly. But if we are thus joined to God, He will do for our inmost hearts what the inventor tried to do with the chamber within his ship. The hull may be buffeted, but the inmost chamber where the true self sits will be kept level and unmoved. Brethren! prayer in the highest sense, by which I mean the exercise of aspiration, trust, submission--prayer will fight against and overcome all anxieties.

‘By prayer and supplication.’ Actual petition for the supply of present wants is meant by ‘supplication.’ To ask for that supply will very often be to get it. To tell God what I think I need goes a long way always to bringing me the gift that I do need. If I have an anxiety which I am ashamed to speak to Him, that silence is a sign that I ought not to have it; and if I have a desire that I do not feel I can put into a prayer, that feeling is a warning to me not to cherish such a desire.

There are many vague and oppressive anxieties that come and cast a shadow over our hearts, that if we could once define, and put into plain words, we should find that we vaguely fancied them a great deal larger than they were, and that the shadow they flung was immensely longer than the thing that flung it. Put your anxieties into definite speech. It will reduce their proportions to your own apprehension very often. Speaking them, even to a man who may be able to do little to help, eases them wonderfully. Put them into definite speech to God; and there are very few of them that will survive.

‘By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.’ That thanksgiving is always in place. If one only considers what he has from God, and realises that whatever he has he has received from the hands of divine love, thanksgiving is appropriate in any circumstances. Do you remember when Paul was in gaol at the very city to which this letter went, with his back bloody with the rod, and his feet fast in the stocks, how then he and Silas ‘prayed and sang praises to God.’ Therefore the obedient earthquake came and set them loose. Perhaps it was some reminiscence of that night which moved him to say to the Church that knew the story--of which perhaps the gaoler was still a member--’By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known unto God.’

One aching nerve can monopolise our attention and make us unconscious of the health of all the rest of the body. So, a single sorrow or loss obscures many mercies. We are like men who live in a narrow alley in some city, with great buildings on either side, towering high above their heads, and only a strip of sky visible. If we see up in that strip a cloud, we complain and behave as if the whole heavens, right away round the three hundred and sixty degrees of the horizon, were black with tempest. But we see only a little strip, and there is a great deal of blue in the sky; however, there may be a cloud in the patch that we see above our heads, from the alley where we live. Everything, rightly understood, that God sends to men is a cause of thanksgiving; therefore, ‘in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.’

‘Casting all your anxieties upon him,’ says Peter, ‘for He’--not is anxious ; that dark cloud does not rise much above the earth--but, ‘He careth for you.’ And that loving guardianship and tender care is the one shield, armed with which we can smile at the poisoned darts of anxiety which would else fester in our hearts and, perhaps, kill. ‘Be careful for nothing’--an impossibility unless ‘in everything’ we make ‘our requests known unto God.’

4:2-9 Let believers be of one mind, and ready to help each other. As the apostle had found the benefit of their assistance, he knew how comfortable it would be to his fellow-labourers to have the help of others. Let us seek to give assurance that our names are written in the book of life. Joy in God is of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. It more than outweighs all causes for sorrow. Let their enemies perceive how moderate they were as to outward things, and how composedly they suffered loss and hardships. The day of judgment will soon arrive, with full redemption to believers, and destruction to ungodly men. There is a care of diligence which is our duty, and agrees with a wise forecast and due concern; but there is a care of fear and distrust, which is sin and folly, and only perplexes and distracts the mind. As a remedy against perplexing care, constant prayer is recommended. Not only stated times for prayer, but in every thing by prayer. We must join thanksgivings with prayers and supplications; not only seek supplies of good, but own the mercies we have received. God needs not to be told our wants or desires; he knows them better than we do; but he will have us show that we value the mercy, and feel our dependence on him. The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favour, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction. Believers are to get and to keep a good name; a name for good things with God and good men. We should walk in all the ways of virtue, and abide therein; then, whether our praise is of men or not, it will be of God. The apostle is for an example. His doctrine and life agreed together. The way to have the God of peace with us, is to keep close to our duty. All our privileges and salvation arise in the free mercy of God; yet the enjoyment of them depends on our sincere and holy conduct. These are works of God, pertaining to God, and to him only are they to be ascribed, and to no other, neither men, words, nor deeds.Be careful for nothing - That is, be not anxious or solicitous about the things of the present life. The word used here - μεριμνᾶτε merimnate - does not mean that we are to exercise no care about worldly matters - no care to preserve our property, or to provide for our families (compare 1 Timothy 5:8); but that there is to be such confidence in God as to free the mind from anxiety, and such a sense of dependence on him as to keep it calm; see the subject explained in the notes on Matthew 6:25.

But in everything - Everything in reference to the supply of your wants, and the wants of your families; everything in respect to afflictions, embarrassments, and trials; and everything relating to your spiritual condition. There is nothing which pertains to body, mind, estate, friends, conflicts, losses, trials, hopes, fears, in reference to which we may not go and spread it all out before the Lord.

By prayer and supplication - The word rendered "supplication" is a stronger term than the former. It is the mode of prayer which especially arises from the sense of "need," or "want" - from δέομαι deomai, "to want, to need."

With thanksgiving - Thanksgiving connected with prayer. We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter what may be the burden of our wants, or the special subject of our petitions. When we pray for the supply of our wants, we may be thankful for that kind providence which has hitherto befriended us; when we pray for restoration from sickness, we may be thankful for the health we have hitherto enjoyed, and for God's merciful interposition in the former days of trial, and for his goodness in now sparing our lives; when we pray that our children and friends may be preserved from danger and death, we may remember how often God has interposed to save them; when, oppressed with a sense of sin, we pray for pardon, we have abundant cause of thanksgiving that there is a glorious way by which we may be saved. The greatest sufferer that lives in this world of redeeming love, and who has the offer of heaven before him, has cause of gratitude.

Let your request be made known unto God - Not as if you were to give him information, but to express to him your wants. God needs not to be informed of our necessities, but he requires that we come and express them to him; compare Ezekiel 36:37. "Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them."

6. Translate, "Be anxious about nothing." Care and prayer are as mutually opposed as fire and water [Bengel].

by prayer and supplication—Greek, "by the prayer and the supplication" appropriate to each case [Alford]. Prayer for blessings; and the general term. Supplication, to avert ills; a special term, suppliant entreaty (see on [2390]Eph 6:18).

thanksgiving—for every event, prosperity and affliction alike (1Th 5:18; Jas 5:13). The Philippians might remember Paul's example at Philippi when in the innermost prison (Ac 16:25). Thanksgiving gives effect to prayer (2Ch 20:21), and frees from anxious carefulness by making all God's dealings matter for praise, not merely for resignation, much less murmuring. "Peace" is the companion of "thanksgiving" (Php 4:7; Col 3:15).

let your requests be made known unto God—with generous, filial, unreserved confidence; not keeping aught back, as too great, or else too small, to bring before God, though you might feel so as to your fellow men. So Jacob, when fearing Esau (Ge 32:9-12); Hezekiah fearing Sennacherib (2Ki 19:14; Ps 37:5).

Be careful for nothing; he dissuades not from a spiritual care, arising from a good principle, according to a right rule, for a good end; this care of diligence, in a due manner, within our own sphere, is incumbent on us, both for spirituals and temporals; as Philippians 2:20; with Romans 12:11 2 Corinthians 11:28 12:14 2 Thessalonians 3:10 1 Timothy 5:8 2 Timothy 2:15: yet he earnestly dissuades from and prohibits all carnal solicitude, or carking, distrustful, worldly care, which doth divide and, as it were, split the heart in pieces; that anxious solicitude which doth torture the mind with such thoughts as our blessed Lord will not allow so much as one of them to be predominant in his real disciples, Matthew 6:25, because such immoderate, distracting care, is on our part a disparagement to our heavenly Father’s good providence, Matthew 6:32; with Psalm 55:22 127:1,2 Mt 4:18,19 1 Peter 5:7. The remedy against which he doth here subjoin.

But in every thing; but in all things, or in every occurring necessity, whether prosperous or adverse; sacred or civil, public or private: some render it, every time, in every condition, on every occasion.

By prayer; by petition or apprecation of good to ourselves or others; mercies, or blessings, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.

And supplication; and by a deprecation of evils felt or feared, wrath and judgments deserved.

With thanksgiving; with a grateful acknowledgment of mercies received, benefits conferred, and deliverances vouchsafed; implying that no prayer is acceptable to God, without this ingredient of thankful resentment of his favours.

Let your requests be made known unto God: our affectionate desires should be opened to God, and poured forth before him; not that he is ignorant of us or our wants in any circumstances, but that he accounts himself glorified by our addresses to him, in seeking to be approved and assisted of him in every condition.

Be careful for nothing,.... This must be understood not in the most extensive sense, but with a limitation and restriction. There are many things that saints are to be careful for, as men and Christians; they are to be careful of their bodies, as well as of their souls; of the health of them, which is to be preserved by all lawful means, and not exposed to unnecessary danger; and for their families, to provide things honest for them, proper food and raiment, and the necessaries of life; for whoever does not do that, denies the faith, and is worse than an infidel; and even for the things of this world in a moderate way, using all diligence and industry in obtaining them; men ought to be careful to discharge the duties of their calling in civil life, and to care and concern themselves for the honour of God, the interest of religion, and the support of the Gospel; and that they offend not God, by sinning against him: but the carefulness the apostle speaks of, is an anxious solicitude for worldly things, an immoderate concern for the things of life, arising from diffidence, or negligence, of the power, providence, and faithfulness of God: saints should not be anxiously, or in a distressing manner concerned for the things of this world, but be content, whether they have less or more; nor be over much pressed with what befalls them, but should cast their care upon the Lord, and carry every case to him, and leave it there:

but in everything. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it, "in every time": always, constantly, every day, as often as there is opportunity, and need requires. The Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions join it with the following clause, "in every prayer and supplication"; but the grammatical construction of the words will not admit of such a version; it is best to understand it of every thing, or case, which should be brought to God; whether it be of a temporal or spiritual kind, relating to body or soul, to ourselves or others, to our families, relations, and acquaintance, the church, or the world:

by prayer and supplication: which may include all sorts of prayer, mental or vocal, private or public, ordinary or extraordinary, and every part of prayer: prayer may design petition, or asking for good things that are wanted; and "supplication", a deprecating of evils that are feared; though these two are often used together for the same thing, for prayer in general: which ought always to be accompanied

with thanksgiving; for mercies received; for a man can never come to the throne of grace, to ask for grace and mercy, but he has mercies to bless God for, and so to do is very acceptable to God; nor can a person expect to succeed in the enjoyment of future mercies, when he is not thankful for past and present ones: in this manner therefore, at all times, upon every occasion, in a way of humble petition and supplication, joined with thankfulness for all favours,

let your requests be made known to God; not to men; fly not to an arm of flesh, but to God, to him only, and that in the most private mariner, as not to be known by men; and put up such requests, as there may be reason to hope and believe God will "know" and approve of; such as are agreeable to his will, to the covenant of his grace, and the declaration of his word: use familiarity with God, tell him as you would do a friend, freely and fully, all your case, pour out your souls and your complaints before him. This God would have his people do, and he expects it from them; and though he knows all their wants, and what are their desires before they express them, yet he will seem not to know them, or take any notice of them, until they open them to him in some way or other; either by vocal prayer, or mental; by ejaculations, or sighs and groans, by chattering as a crane or a swallow, all which he understands: and be the case made known in what way or manner soever, with ever so much weakness, so be it, it is made known, it is enough, it shall be regarded and not despised.

{6} Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with {f} thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

(6) The third is, that we are not too anxious for anything, but with sure confidence give God thanks, and desire from him whatever we have need of, that with a quiet conscience we may wholly and with all our hearts submit ourselves to him.

(f) So David began very often with tears, but ended with thanksgiving.

Php 4:6. The μεριμνᾶτε is not to be limited in an arbitrary way (as by Grotius, Flatt, Weiss, and others, to anxious care); about nothing (neither want, nor persecution, nor a threatening future, etc.) are they at all to give themselves concern, but on the contrary, etc.; μηδέν, which is emphatically prefixed, is the accusative of the object (1 Corinthians 7:32 ff; 1 Corinthians 12:25; Php 2:20). Comp. Xen. Cyrop. viii. 7. 12: τὸ πολλὰ μεριμνᾶν καὶ τὸ μὴ δύνασθαι ἡσυχίαν ἔχειν. Caring is here, as in Matthew 6, the contrast to full confidence in God. Comp. 1 Peter 5:7. “Curare et orare plus inter se pugnant quam aqua et ignis,” Bengel.

ἐν παντί] opposed to the μηδέν; hence: in every case or affair (comp. Ephesians 5:24; 2 Corinthians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Plat. Euthyd. p. 301 A), not: at all times (Syriac, Grotius, Bos, Flatt, Rheinwald).

τῇ προσευχῇ κ. τῇ δεήσει] by prayer and supplication. On the distinction between the two (the former being general, the latter supplicating prayer), see on Ephesians 6:18. The article indicates the prayer, which ye make; and the repetition of the article, otherwise not required, puts forward the two elements the more emphatically (Kühner, II. 1, p. 529).

μετὰ εὐχαρ.] belongs to γνωριζ. κ.τ.λ., which, excluding all solicitude in the prayer, should never take place (comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Colossians 3:17) without thanksgiving for the proofs of divine love already received and continually being experienced, of which the Christian is conscious under all circumstances (Romans 8:28). In the thanksgiving of the suppliant there is expressed entire surrender to God’s will, the very opposite of solicitude.

τὰ αἰτήματα ὑμ.] what ye desire (Plat. Rep. viii. p. 566 B; Dionys. Hal. Antt. vi. 74; Luke 23:24), that is, in accordance with the context: your petitions (1 John 5:15; Daniel 6:7; Daniel 6:13; Psalm 19:6; Psalm 36:4, et al.; Schleusner, Thes. I. p. 100).

γνωριζέσθω πρὸς τ. Θεόν] must be made known towards God; πρός, versus; it is the coram of the direction. Comp. Bernhardy, p. 265; Schoem. ad Is. iii. 25. The expression is more graphic than the mere dative would be; and the conception itself (γνωριζ.) is popularly anthropopathic; Matthew 6:8. Bengel, moreover, aptly remarks on the subject-matter: “qui desideria sua praepostero pudore ac diffidenti modestia … velant, suffocant ac retinent, curis anguntur; qui filiali et liberali fiducia erga Deum expromunt, expediuntur. Confessionibus ejusmodi scatent Psalmi.”

Php 4:6. μ. μερ. “In nothing be anxious.” μερ. is not common in earlier prose. It is used repeatedly in LXX of anxiety (a) approaching dread as Psalm 37:19, (b) producing displeasure as Ezekiel 16:42, (c) of a general kind as 1 Chronicles 17:9. For the thought Cf. 4 Ezra 2:27 : Noli satagere, cum venerit enim dies pressurae et angustiae … tu autem hilaris et copiosa eris. See the note on chap. Php 2:20 supr.προσευ. κ. τ. δεής. προσευχή emphasises prayer as an act of worship or devotion; δεήσις is the cry of personal need. See on chap. Php 1:4 supr. Curare et orare plus inter se pugnant quam aqua et ignis (Beng.).—μετὰ εὐχ. The word is rarely found in secular Greek (e.g., Hippocr., Polyb., Diod.; see Rutherford, New Phrynichus, p. 69), or LXX. Paul uses it twelve times, but only twice with the article. Does not this imply that he takes for granted that thanksgiving is the background, the predominant tone of the Christian life? To pray in any other spirit is to clip the wings of prayer.—αἴτημα is found three times in N.T. It emphasises the object asked for (see an important discussion by Ezra Abbot in N. Amer. Review, 1872, p. 171 ff.). “Prayer is a wish referred to God, and the possibility of such reference, save in matters of mere indifference, is the test of the purity of the wish” (Green, Two Sermons, p. 44).—πρὸς τ. Θεόν. “In the presence of God.” A delicate and suggestive way of hinting that God’s presence is always there, that it is the atmosphere surrounding them. Anxious foreboding is out of place in a Father’s presence. Requests are always in place with Him. With this phrase Cf. Romans 16:26.

6. Be careful for nothing] Better, in modern English, In nothing be anxious (R.V.). Wyclif, “be ye no thing bisie”; all the other older English versions are substantially as A.V.; Luther, Sorget nichts; Latin versions, Nihil solliciti sitis (fueritis). On the etymology of the Greek verb, and on the thought here, see note above, Php 2:20. There the mental action here blamed is commended; a discrepancy fully harmonized by a view of different conditions. Here, the saints are enjoined to deal with every trying circumstance of life as those who know, and act upon, the fact that “the Lord thinketh on me” (Psalm 40:17). Cp. Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14; Luke 10:41; Luke 21:34; 1 Corinthians 7:32; 1 Peter 5:7.

The English word “care” is akin to older Teutonic words meaning lamentation, murmur, sorrow, and is not connected with the Lat. cura (Skeat, Etym. Dict.). English literature, from “Piers Plowman” (cent. 14) to Shakspeare and the A.V., abounds in illustrations of the meaning of the word here. E.g., Vision of Piers Plowman, v. 76: “carefullich mea culpa he comsed to shewe”; i.e. “he anxiously commenced to unfold” his sins in the confessional. So, in the same writer, a mournful song is “a careful note.”

in every thing] An all-inclusive positive, to justify the all-inclusive negative just before.—Observe here, as so often, the tendency of Christian precepts to a holy universality of scope. Cp. Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 4:31; Ephesians 5:3, and notes in this Series.

by prayer and supplication] We might almost paraphrase the Greek, where each noun has an article, “by your prayer &c.”; by the prayer which of course you offer.

“Prayer” is the larger word, often including all kinds and parts of “worship”; “supplication” is the more definite. Cp. Ephesians 6:18, and note in this Series. The two words thus linked together are meant, however, less to be distinguished than to include and enforce the fullest and freest “speaking unto the Lord.”

with thanksgiving] “The temper of the Christian should always be one of thanksgiving. Nearly every Psalm, however deep the sorrow and contrition, escapes into the happy atmosphere of praise and gratitude. The Psalms, in Hebrew, are the Praises. All prayer ought to include the element of thanksgiving, for mercies temporal and spiritual” (Note by the Dean of Peterborough).—The privilege of prayer is in itself an abiding theme for grateful praise.

be made known] Exactly as if He needed information. True faith will accept and act upon such a precept with very little questioning or discussion of its rationale. Scripture is full of illustrations of it in practice, from the prayers of Abraham (Genesis 15, 17, 18) and of Abraham’s servant (Genesis 24) onward. It is for the Eternal, not for us, to reconcile such humble but most real statements and requests on our part with His infinity.

This verse is a caution against the view of prayer taken by some Mystic Christian thinkers, in which all articulate petition is merged in the soul’s perpetual “Thy will be done.” See Mme. Guyon, Moyen Court de faire Oraison, ch. 17. Such a doctrine has in it a sacred element of truth, but as a whole it is out of harmony with the divinely balanced precepts of Scripture.

Php 4:6. Μηδὲν μεριμνᾶτε, be careful for nothing) When others do not treat you with kindliness, when different things are pressing upon you, be not over-careful, rather pray. Care and prayer, [and likewise care and joy.—V. g.] are more opposed to one another than fire and water.—ἐν παντὶ) in every thing.—μετὰ εὐχαριστίας, with thanksgiving) This is the best characteristic of a soul freed from cares, and of prayer joined with resignation of the human will. Accordingly peace follows, Php 4:7; and thanksgiving and peace are united together also in Colossians 3:15. All things are thereby safe and tranquil.—τὰ αἰτήματα, requests) A thing sought, the subject δεήσεως, of supplication.—γνωριζέσθω, be made known) Those who veil, stifle, and restrain their desires, with preposterous shame and distrusting modesty, as if they were too small or too great, are tortured with cares. Those who lay them before God with a generous and filial confidence, are freed from difficulties. The Psalms abound in confessions of that sort.—πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, to God) Even though often men should be ignorant of them, and you should modestly conceal them from your fellowmen. Paul had not even asked aught from the Philippians. [But the exercise of unaffected candour towards men, Php 4:5, and here towards GOD, is perfectly consistent.—V. g.]

Verse 6. - Be careful for nothing; rather, as R.V., in nothing be anxious. Μέριμνα is anxious, distracting care. St. Paul does not wish his converts to be careless, but to be free from that over-anxiety about worldly things which might distract their thoughts from the service of God, and hinder their growth in holiness. Comp. 1 Peter 5:7, where the apostle bids us cast all our care (μέριμνα) upon God. The thought of the Lord's nearness should lead us both to be forbearing in our relations to others, and also to keep ourselves free, as far as may be, from worldly anxieties. "He careth for us." But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. "Curare et orare," says Bengel, "plus inter se pugnant quam aqua et ignis." In everything; in each emergency, little or great, as it arises, pray; cultivate the habit of referring all things, great or small, to God in prayer. The two words rendered "prayer" and "supplication" προσευχή and δέησις) occur together also in Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:l and Ephesians 5:5. The first has been defined by Chrysostom and others as prayer to obtain a good; the second, prayer to avoid an evil Better, perhaps, as most modern commentators, προσευχή is the general word, covering the idea of prayer in its widest meaning; while δέησις is a special act of supplication for some particular object of need (see Trench, 'Synonyms of the New Testament,' sect. 51.). With thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the necessary accompaniment of prayer; it ought never to be absent from our devotions; it springs out of that holy joy which St. Paul so constantly sets before us in this Epistle as the bounden duty of Christians. St. Paul himself is an example of constant thanksgiving. All his Epistles, except those to the Galatians, 1 Timothy, and Titus, open with a thanksgiving. In the dungeon at Philippi he and Silas "prayed and sang praises unto God" (Acts 16:25). Our requests, the things for which we ask, are to be made known unto God; πρὸς τὸν Θεόν before God, in the presence of God, by prayer, the general converse of the soul with God; and by supplication, direct petitions for the supply of our necessities. Indeed, he knows our necessities before we ask; but we are encouraged to make them known before him, as Hezekiah took the letter of Sennacherib and spread it before the Lord. Philippians 4:6Be careful (μεριμνᾶτε)

See on Matthew 6:25. Rev., better, be anxious.

Prayer and supplication

General and special. See on Luke 5:33; see on Luke 8:38.

Προσευχή prayer, only of prayer to God. The two words often occur together, as Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1; 1 Timothy 5:5.

Requests (αἰτήματα)

Specific details of supplication.

Unto God (πρὸς τὸν Θεόν)

The force of πρός is rather in your intercourse with God. See on with God, John 1:1.

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