“Do Not Be Anxious over Anything”
“Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.”—Phil. 4:6.
1. For what Scriptural reasons can we say that Jehovah is the “God of peace”?
JEHOVAH is the “God of peace.” (Phil. 4:9) He experiences no distressing anxiety, no mental uneasiness or apprehension. Nothing—not even the vile deeds of the wicked—can rob God of tranquillity or cause him to lose his equilibrium. His attributes are always in perfect balance. For instance, acting in love, Jehovah “makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good.” (Matt. 5:44, 45; 1 John 4:8) He never perverts justice. (Gen. 18:25) God’s peerless wisdom enables him to ‘see the end from the beginning’ and to cope with any eventuality. Also, his limitless power, never exercised irresponsibly, always results in the fulfillment of his righteous will.—Job 12:13; Isa. 40:26; 46:9, 10.
2. How should Jehovah be viewed by his worshipers?
2 How should this incomparable “God of peace” be viewed by those in the universal family of his worshipers? (Compare Ephesians 3:14, 15.) Since their heavenly Father is able to cope with any situation, praisers of Jehovah have every reason to be tranquil. They can have a sense of true security in their relationship with him.
Entirely Without Anxieties?
3. Why is it not surprising that Jehovah’s servants should experience some anxiety?
3 This does not mean, of course, that “lovers of Jehovah” are totally without anxieties. (Ps. 97:10) They have imperfections inherited from Adam and must live among other sinful descendants of the first man. (1 Ki. 8:46; Rom. 5:12) ‘The days of their years’ are troubled, and all imperfect humans are “short-lived and glutted with agitation.” (Job 14:1; Ps. 90:10) So it is not surprising that Jehovah’s servants should experience some anxiety.
4. What scriptures show why godly persons cannot be totally free of anxieties?
4 For instance, there may be emotional distress, even as Esau’s Hittite wives “were a source of bitterness of spirit” to his godly parents Isaac and Rebekah. (Gen. 26:34, 35) Illness creates some anxiety for God’s servants today, as it must have in the lives of such faithful Christians as Timothy and Trophimus. (1 Tim. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:20) Like “righteous Lot,” present-day praisers of Jehovah are distressed over the immoral course of law-defying people. (2 Pet. 2:7) At times, individuals devoted to Jehovah have to subsist on meager provisions, certainly a cause of more than normal concern. (Phil. 4:12) And like the apostle Paul, many Christian men of our time have anxiety for fellow believers. (2 Cor. 11:28) Add to all of this the varied troubles that beset godly persons individually and it can readily be seen that they cannot now be entirely free of anxieties.
5. (a) What special help do Jehovah’s people have to cope with anxiety? (b) As used in the Scriptures, “peace” denotes what?
5 Yet, Jehovah’s servants have divine aid in coping with all their anxieties—precious help not enjoyed by anyone lacking spirituality. (Compare Jude 17-21.) Jehovah is not only the “God of peace,” but, happily, is also “the God who gives peace.” (Rom. 15:33) In Scripture, “peace” means much more than the absence of strife. Among other things, it denotes ‘welfare, happiness, prosperity and good of every kind.’ (Gen. 41:16, Authorized Version; Mark 5:34; Luke 1:79) Surely, possessing such all-embracing peace should counteract or lessen life’s anxieties.
6. What must we do if we wish to achieve and maintain God-given peace?
6 But to achieve and maintain this God-given peace, a person must have deep love for Jehovah and his Word. This involves loving God, keeping his commandments, having faith in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and showing love to others. (1 John 3:19-24; 5:2-4) Of course, to keep God’s commandments we must know them. This requires our making the study of the Scriptures a daily concern. (Josh. 1:8) And, doubtless, as we spend more time with Jehovah’s Word, we will form an increased “longing” for it. This, in turn, will bring us greater peace of heart and mind.—1 Pet. 2:1-3.
A Loving Father of Mighty Acts
7. How does improved knowledge of God’s Word affect our relationship with him, and how does it relieve us of anxiety?
7 Our improved knowledge of God’s Word will draw us ever closer to the Most High, provided we approach him in childlike humility and with a heartfelt desire to acquire “wisdom from above.” (Jas. 3:17, 18) We will be impressed with the fact that Jehovah is “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.” (Ex. 34:6) We will more fully realize that he is “good and ready to forgive.” (Ps. 86:5) Being imperfect and sinful, we will falter in our way, but we have this assurance: “As a father shows mercy to his sons, Jehovah has shown mercy to those fearing him. For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Ps. 103:13, 14) How this lifts from our hearts and minds the anxiety that might otherwise crush us! And an act of love beyond human comprehension is Jehovah’s provision of the ransom, made through his dear Son “in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
8, 9. (a) What scriptures tell how Jehovah is the Performer of “mighty acts”? (b) Why would you say that God’s past deeds prove that his people can expect to have his help in coping with life’s anxieties?
8 Our heavenly Father also is the Performer of “mighty acts.” (Ps. 106:1, 2; 145:4, 11, 12) In imploring favor from God, Moses could say: “O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, you yourself have started to make your servant see your greatness and your strong arm, for who is a god in the heavens or on the earth that does deeds like yours and mighty performances like yours?” (Deut. 3:23, 24) Moses could recall how Jehovah mightily freed His people from slavery in Egypt and led them dryshod through the Red Sea. (Ex. 12:29-42; 14:5-31) Also, the prophet had observed Jehovah’s acts in making Israel victorious over the Amorites, who were under Kings Sihon and Og. Moreover, since Jehovah was fighting for the Israelites, Moses had confidence that God would overthrow other enemy kingdoms and give His people the land of promise. (Deut. 3:1-22) Yes, and God did just that, because he is a Keeper of Promises. (Josh. 23:1-5) How, then, should “lovers of Jehovah” feel when they consider God’s reliability and his acts of deliverance? Is there basis for distressing anxiety on the part of his people today? By no means, for Jehovah is faithful, and he “knows how to deliver people of godly devotion.”—2 Pet. 2:5-9.
9 Of course, God’s deeds in behalf of those wholly devoted to him are not restricted to acts of deliverance. Nevertheless, such performances prove that “Jehovah will not forsake his people.” (Ps. 94:14) So we can be confident that he will help them to cope with life’s anxieties.
‘Make Your Petitions Known to God’
10. According to the apostle Paul’s words at Philippians 4:6, 7, how can we strengthen our bond with the “God of peace”?
10 Regular study of God’s Word will draw a sincere person closer to Jehovah. So will meditation on the heavenly Father’s loving ways and his mighty acts in behalf of those faithfully serving him. Yet there is another way to strengthen our bond with the “God of peace.” This the Christian apostle Paul made evident in urging fellow believers: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” This results in God-given tranquillity that is beyond human comprehension.—Phil. 4:6, 7.
11. What Biblical examples can you give to prove that Jehovah is the “Hearer of prayer”?
11 Long before Paul wrote those words, Jehovah had proved to be the loving, dependable “Hearer of prayer.” (Ps. 65:2) His worshipers could cast upon him their various anxieties, with confidence that their petitions would be heard. To illustrate: The prayer of Abraham’s servant Eliezer was answered when he was directed in finding a wife for his master’s son, Isaac. (Gen. 15:2; 24:10-27, 62-67) Barren Hannah “prayed extendedly” with tears and was granted a son, Samuel, whom she gratefully ‘lent to Jehovah for life.’ (1 Sam. 1:4-28) With profuse weeping, deathly-ill King Hezekiah supplicated Jehovah and was healed. (2 Ki. 20:1-11) For days Nehemiah fasted and prayed—and at a critical moment silently petitioned “the God of the heavens”—with the joyful result that he was granted royal authority to rebuild devastated Jerusalem. (Neh. 1:1–2:8) At the temple faithful Anna rendered sacred service night and day “with fastings and supplications” and was rewarded by being present when the infant Jesus was brought there. (Luke 2:36-38) On the last night of his earthly life, Christ entreated Jehovah and was strengthened by his heavenly Father to drink the “cup” purposed for him.—Matt. 26:36-47.
12. Why can Jehovah’s servants confidently pray to him when they experience some anxiety?
12 Consider, too, the many other prayers recorded in the Scriptures—those of confession, praise, thanksgiving. Then ask: Should not Jehovah’s present-day servants prayerfully turn to him whether they are happy, grateful, distressed or anxious? Indeed they should, confident that their heavenly Father hears their humble, sincere pleadings and expressions.
13. Why could the apostle Paul urge fellow Christians not to be anxious “over anything”?
13 Just before Paul advised fellow Christians to let their petitions be made known to God, the apostle urged: “Do not be anxious over anything.” (Phil. 4:6) In this, he was echoing the advice of Jesus, who said: “Stop being anxious about your souls” and “do not be anxious beforehand about what to speak.” (Matt. 6:25; Mark 13:11) The apostle knew that the heavenly Father would care for His worshipers and that they would have the aid of Jehovah’s holy spirit in doing anything that had divine approval.
14. As regards prayer, what are “petitions”?
14 Aware that Jehovah is the “Hearer of prayer,” we who pursue a godly life today can confidently heed Paul’s admonition: “But in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” Often our prayers are “petitions.” That is, they involve asking for specific things or making definite requests. Eliezer and Hannah were among faithful persons whose definite requests were heard by God, and Jesus indicated that it was proper to petition God in a specific way. For instance, Christ told his disciples to ask the Father: “Give us our bread for the day according to the day’s requirement.”—Luke 11:2, 3.
15. (a) In connection with prayer, what does “supplication” denote? (b) What does Hebrews 5:7 teach us about the prayers of Jesus Christ?
15 Great anxiety can develop over many matters, and at times this may call for “supplication.” This term lays stress on need and humble, earnest entreaty. So it is not merely a matter of worshipfully addressing God in general prayer. Both petitions and supplications are necessary at times. “In the days of his flesh,” we read, “Christ offered up supplications and also petitions to the One who was able to save him out of death, with strong outcries and tears, and he was favorably heard for his godly fear.” (Heb. 5:7) Acknowledging undeniable needs, Jesus made heartfelt entreaties, earnestly supplicating his Father. Moreover, Christ petitioned Jehovah, making definite requests.—John 17:9, 10, 15-21.
16. How may a Christian be affected when his prayers are answered?
16 When a Christian’s specific requests are met, and when his earnest entreaties are answered, he knows that Jehovah is with him. This realization of divine aid may elicit a response similar to that of Job, who exclaimed after enduring trial: “In hearsay I have heard about you [Jehovah God], but now my own eye does see you.” (Job 42:5) Like Job, with the eye of understanding, faith and appreciation we can look at Jehovah’s dealings with us and can “see” him as we never have seen him before. What peace of heart and mind results from this intimacy with our heavenly Father!
“Along with Thanksgiving”
17. Why should we give thanks to God in prayer?
17 Paul urged fellow believers to make their petitions known to God by prayer and supplication “along with thanksgiving.” (Phil. 4:6) Many, indeed, are the reasons to thank and praise the Most High. (1 Chron. 29:10-13) Jesus set an example for his followers when he gave thanks for food and for the emblematic bread and wine used at the Lord’s Evening Meal. (Matt. 15:36; 26:26, 27; Luke 22:19, 20) Besides expressing similar gratitude to God, we should “give thanks to Jehovah” for “his wonderful works to the sons of men,” for his “righteous judicial decisions,” and for so much more. (Ps. 33:2-5; 92:1, 2; 100:4, 5; 107:1, 8, 15, 21, 31; 119:62) How appropriate to thank God for his matchless Word of truth! And how grateful we should be for his Son’s sacrifice that has made possible reconciliation with Jehovah!—Rom. 5:6-11.
18. If we are faithfully doing the divine will, why do we have no reason to be overwhelmed by anxiety?
18 “Lovers of Jehovah” can thank him, too, because he really cares for them. The apostle Peter wrote: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; while you throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:6, 7) Thus both Peter and Paul urged fellow believers not to be anxious over anything but to commit all their cares to Jehovah. And how fitting that counsel! There is absolutely nothing that the Most High is incapable of doing or controlling in behalf of those wholeheartedly devoted to him. (Mark 10:27; 12:29, 30) Whatever God permits, the faithful can bear because he gives them ‘strength for all things.’ (Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor. 10:13) With good reason, the psalmist David said: “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act.” (Ps. 37:5) Yes, faithfully do the divine will and there is no basis for panic and overwhelming anxiety. Instead, there is sound reason to have inner peace, even amid tribulation and turmoil. But how great is that peace?