For that reason “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
With this verse the apostle calls us to take action against anxiety. Until this point he has been assuring us of God’s character: his sovereignty, mercy, and presence. Now it is our turn to act on this belief. We choose prayer over despair. Peace happens when people pray.
I like the story of the father who was teaching his three-year-old daughter the Lord’s Prayer. She would repeat the lines after him. Finally she decided to go solo. He listened with pride as she carefully enunciated each word, right up to the end of the prayer. “Lead us not into temptation,” she prayed, “but deliver us from e-mail.”
These days that seems like an appropriate request. God calls us to pray about everything. The terms prayer, supplication, and requests are similar but not identical. Prayer is a general devotion; the word includes worship and adoration. Supplication suggests humility. We are the supplicants in the sense that we make no demands; we simply offer humble requests. A request is exactly that—a specific petition. We tell God exactly what we want. We pray the particulars of our problems.
What Jesus said to the blind man, he says to us: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41). One would think the answer would be obvious. When a sightless man requests Jesus’ help, isn’t it apparent what he needs? Yet Jesus wanted to hear the man articulate his specific requests. He wants the same from us . . .
This is no endorsement of the demanding, conditional prayer that presumes to tell God what to do and when. Nor do I suggest that the power of prayer resides in chanting the right formula or quoting some secret code. Do not think for a moment that the power of prayer resides in the way we present it. God is not manipulated or impressed by our formulas or eloquence. But he is moved by the sincere request. After all, is he not our Father? As his children we honor him when we tell him exactly what we need. (From Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado.)
Max Lucado, Life Lessons from 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: Ageless Wisdom for Young Leaders (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2018).
We have just released a new Bible Study on the book of 1 Timothy.
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