kl1964 mentioned Phil 4:6-8 to me the other night--and then read it on a voice post last night. That's twice that this passage has been brought to my attention this week. The other day, I mentioned to Alexis that there are patterns in my life when God brings things to my attention three times. Recently I learned that three is the Jewish sign for a witness. So three times is significant in God's relationships with us--at least in my thinking.
I decided that it would be prudent to take the passage apart and look at the meanings of some of the words... This can significantly change my thinking about a passage at times. This morning I'm working on just the first verse:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.
Supplication. I really don't understand this word... Why is it used in addition to the word "prayer?" Google is a wonderful tool. Here are a few notes:
Supplication (also known as petitioning) is the most common form of prayer, wherein a person asks a supernatural deity to provide something, either for the person who is praying or for someone else on whose behalf a prayer of supplication is being made.
In Christianity, the prayer of supplication for health by and on behalf of the sick is referenced in early Christian writings in the New Testament, especially James 5:13-16. One example of supplication is the Catholic ritual of novena (from novem, the Latin word for "nine") wherein one repeatedly asks for the same favor over a period of nine days. This ritual began in France and Spain during the Middle Ages when a nine day period of hymns and prayers led up to a Christmas feast, a period which ended with gift giving. A contemporary Christian example of supplication is the practice of the Daily Prayer for Peace by the Community of Christ where a member prays for peace each day at a specified time.
Amplified: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. ?(Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: Do not worry about anything; but in everything with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Lightfoot: Entertain no anxious cares, but throw them all upon God. By your prayer and your supplication make your every want known to him. NLT: Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Don't worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer,
Weymouth: Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing, but in everything by prayer whose essence is that of worship and devotion and by supplication which is a cry for your personal needs, with thanksgiving let your requests for the things asked for be made known in the presence of God, (Eerdmans)
Now lets tie this scripture with the scripture that we read in Matthew (6:7-12). God is telling us that he wants more for our lives than we want for ourselves. Did you notice that God says here by “prayer and supplication.” In my mind I always consider these to be redundant. I thought God was just repeating Himself, using two different words that meant the same thing in order to get his point across. But, boy, was I wrong. I looked the word prayer that was used in this text and it means “worship.” That really blew my mind - because the last thing that God talked about in our revival was worship. But not only that I looked up the word - seek - that we read in Matthew and it also means worship. So the word ‘seek’ in Matthew and the word ‘prayer’ in Philippians - both mean the same thing - worship!
Now watch this, turn back to Matthew 6:31-34 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink? Or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek (there’s that word again) first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” What is God saying, God is saying when we start to worship and praise Him because of who He is. When we start worshiping and praising Him because of what He has done. When we start worshiping and praising Him simply because we know He is worthy to be praised, when we start worshiping and praising Him - not wanting anything from Him just wanting Him - this moves and touches His heart - and the blessings will come down. When we start chasing after Him and not after the blessings - our prayers will be answered! Hallelujah!
Next comes “supplication” The word supplication means = your petition. This goes with asking in Matthew. But it doesn’t simply mean - ask - like give me this, or I need the other. But the word supplication means = to beseech. That means praying from your gut. Pleading with the Lord, begging Him if you will! In one of the gospels Jesus said we are to pray like a woman in travail, a woman who is giving birth to a child. Why because we need to give birth to the answer to our prayers. But the word supplication also means intercession. This is when you have prayer (worshiped), when you have lifted up your supplication (petition), but you still haven’t seen the answer manifested. Turn to Luke 11:9-13 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if you son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.? Wow!
You say Pastor wait a minute, I thought you were talking about praying and getting our prayers answered, now you are talking about the Holy Spirit. Turn to 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do no know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Remember the word supplication in Philippians meant intercession. So what is the Lord saying, the Lord is saying that after you have worshiped Him, after you have asked him for what you need in travail, and you still don’t see your prayers answered. Then you need to pray in the spirit. Because the Holy Spirit knows how to pray, when we have run out of words. The Holy Spirit knows more about the situation, than we do. The Holy Spirit knows what is in the will and the heart of God for our lives, so He can pray more effectively than we have ever dreamed of! Thank you Jesus.
Remember our text said, ask, seek, and knock. Philippians said, ask in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. There are three things in each text. So what does knock mean. We need to use the word knock = thanksgiving. God is saying that after you have done the first two then you need to start praising and thanking Him for the answer. Because he tells us in Mark 11:24 “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” When you believe that you got the answer you will be praising and thanking Him for the answer before it is manifested in the physical realm. Thanksgiving is knocking down all the obstacles that are hindering you from receiving you answer. ...
Prayer is the general word for making requests known to God and carries with it the idea of adoration, devotion and worship. When we find ourselves tempted to do battle with a loved one, neighbor or a country, our first action ought to be to get alone with God and worship Him. We need to adore Him and realize and acknowledge His greatness and majesty. When we see His greatness, we can then see how small and insignificant our petty wars really are. God is big enough to solve our problems and we must be big enough to turn them over to Him. We can't expect to rush in and throw up a prayer and expect God to take it from there. We need to approach His throne calmly and reverently and then offer up our adoration. Our first step to RIGHT PRAYING is ADORATION.
The second step is SUPPLICATION. This is the earnest sharing of our needs and problems. When Jesus was about to enter into conflict with the Sanhedrin Council and the Roman authorities, He spent His time not in a law library to defend his case nor at the local Army/Navy surplus store preparing a military defense, but He spent time in Gethsemane earnestly sharing His thoughts with His Father.
SPIRITUAL INTENSITY is the key to supplication. This is the time we spill our hearts out to the Lord. There is something about confessing to the Lord your innermost feelings that will help you in your conflict. When we search deeply we discover our inner motives and begin to see our actions from someone else's eyes. It also aids in understanding the other person's side of the dispute. It would be extremely difficult to get through this type of prayer and still feel anger and animosity toward others. Anger and animosity are the fuel for wars of any kind.
After adoration and supplication comes the third step--APPRECIATION, giving thanks to God. "... let your requests be made known to God with thanksgiving." It is easy to ask-sometimes we are slow to appreciate. Remember to say, "Thank you, Father," not only when things have gone our way, but also when right praying has pointed out our shortcomings to ourselves. When we have praised God, turned our problems over to God and thanked Him for interaction with us, then we will have that "peace of God which passes all understanding" as mentioned in Philippians 4:7. And that peace will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
I have to confess that like most people, I have fallen into the trap of believing that "have no anxiety" means I'm supposed to pray once and "give it to Jesus." That's a nice catch phrase that people like to use in order to push away another person's anxiety because we really are not comfortable with intercession. The problem is that the answer truly is prayer; but we have so abused the idea of prayer that many people who need true intercession are not open to it because they think of it as a one-time prayer that is supposed to magically cure their anxiety. How does it work? I don't entirely know. But I do know that half the miracle is in the fact that there is a place to cry out instead of bottling up those pains and fears, which is often what happens when someone says, "Give it to Jesus." I pray a quick prayer, asking Jesus to take it, and then I bottle them up and put that happy face mask on because it's what the church expects of me. "See? Don't you feel the joy of the Lord?" No, not really, but since you think I'm supposed to... And all the while, I go on wondering what's wrong with my faith. What's wrong? Only that I didn't CONTINUE in prayer when continuing is what is needed in order to combat that continuing situation.