KEY: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in very situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding [minds], will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. = Philippians 4:6-7
Wow! 2018 holds so much potential - and yet there is so much anxiety expressed in people's feelings, their behavior, broken friendships, political squabbles, and media battles. Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul urges us to always avoid all anxiety. Paul's advice to avoid anxiety is not rooted in a "charmed life." His own circumstances were awful and at risk of getting far worse - being confined as a prisoner and at serious risk of execution. Surely, this Biblical direction to "not be anxious" applies to all of us - regardless of circumstances.
So what is the remedy for anxieties and worries? Paul offers five therapies for escaping the grasp of anxiety - all timely for 2018. In fact, each one of these remedies remains intensely relevant today in 2018. And every one of these remedies is free. We can call this the P.P.G.P.P. program, utilizing the first letters of the five Biblical therapies in this text:
Prayer [προσευχή]: This reference is to earnest prayer, sincere, passionate communion/communication, "real prayer." At most, during prayer, we should be talking half of the time - listening to the Lord at least the other half of the time. Often there have been official places [such as the altar of incense in Isaiah 56:7, Mal. 1:11 and Luke 1:11] and times [Daniel observing the time of evening sacrifice with his evening prayer]. Humorously, my father put this special remedy in a clarifying irony: "Why pray if you can worry?," he would ask with a smile.
Petition [δέησις]: Asking for help, requesting wisdom, seeking what is truly valuable for life - such as intercessory prayer and daily requests to the Lord of all the universes.
Giving thanks: Stating our appreciation matters for three huge reasons.
o First, we are beneficiaries of God's grace 24/7. We always possess substantial quantities of unstated gratitude.
o Second, we should come to our Creator with a positive attitude of gratitude, knowing God is God, and we are not.
o Third, our thanks states our trust in God, knowing by God's faithfulness - and by our faith - that he will help, guide, and protect us - replacing anxieties and worries with thankful faith and gracious faithfulness.
Personally presenting these prayers, petitions, and thanks into God's amazing presence: We are to come boldly to God's Throne of Grace, personally, as in Hebrews 4:16. This personal boldness is firmly rooted and supported by God's amazing grace.
Peace of God - received in our bodies, souls, and spirits - healing us and fulfilling our deepest needs and desires. When we delight in him, the Lord gives us "the desires of our hearts" (Psalm 37:4) - meaning that he (1) plants those deep desires in the first place, and also (2) creates the paths and resources to their fulfillments.
CONCLUSION: Whether it is family issues, personal challenges, politics, the weather, or whatever - the Apostle Paul's 5-fold guidance still fully applies in 2018. So let us get with the P.P.G.P.P. program - prayers, petitions, thanks, presented boldly to the Lord of Gospel grace.