Be anxious for nothing,
It is fitting that Paul begins this exhortation to pray with a word about anxiety. Webster defines anxiety as “a state of being uneasy, apprehensive, or worried about what may happen; misgiving.”
According to Jesus, people become anxious over food, drink, clothing, and the future (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus also said that anxiety is a fruitless activity: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?” (Matthew 6:27).
Nevertheless, people worry about what they have and what they don’t have, where they are and where they would like to be, what they’ve done and what they wish they had not done.
Anxiety over such issues can cause people to do many things. It causes some people to seek escape from reality through alcohol, drugs, and in some cases suicide. Anxiety causes other people to look for ways to manipulate their circumstances in an effort to bring about some measure of relief.
Anxiety leads some people to complain, criticize, fault-find, and finger-point. And anxiety leads some people to pray, to look beyond themselves for assistance. Anxiety causes some people to turn to God in prayer.
but in everything
The little conjunction “but” plays a pivotal role in this verse. It takes us from the frustration of anxiety to the relief of prayer.
The phrase “but in everything” reminds us that we can pray about whatever causes us to worry and become uneasy. The words “nothing” and “everything” are comprehensive in scope.
We are to be anxious for “nothing,” without exception. Every “nothing” should become an “everything” of prayer. “Nothing” should be on our Anxiety List and “everything” should be on our Prayer List!
by prayer and supplication
Here is the avenue for dealing with life’s anxieties: “prayer and supplication.” The word “prayer” in this verse is a general term which emphasizes worship and adoration of God.
“Supplication” is a term emphasizing personal and earnest petitioning. The writer to the Hebrews captures the thought here (4:16), “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”
“Thanksgiving” is often the missing element of prayer. Someone has said, “Thanksgiving is more than just the expressing of appreciation to God for what He has provided. It is also the bringing of requests to Him with an attitude of appreciation for whatever answer He may give. While we may ask for a specific outcome, more than anything we desire His perfect will. Therefore, we are able to come to Him in prayer with thanksgiving, fully confident of His goodness on our behalf.”
let your requests be made known to God.
“Requests” are specific petitions arising from specific needs. Notice that our prayer should be intentional, that is, it should be directed to God. If we desire to see specific answers to our prayers, our prayers must be specific.
And the peace of God,
The “peace of God” comes after prayer and not before. It comes only after we have cast all our anxiety upon Him who cares for us (I Peter 5:7).
which surpasses all comprehension,
Who can understand the peace which comes from God? Who can comprehend and explain this peace to one who has never experienced it. It is best explained by our countenance and state of being rather than by our words.
Shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
If we follow the instruction of verse 6 then we shall experience the blessing of verse 7. The “peace of God” is here likened to a soldier who vigilantly guards our hearts (emotions) and minds (thoughts), the two arenas of worry. Paul concludes by reminding us that freedom from anxiety is found only “in Christ Jesus.”