…do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God,
Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)
which surpasses all understanding,
and your minds
in Christ Jesus.
In Everything. It’s easy to feel like this Coronavirus pandemic is one enormous, overwhelming catastrophe. The mixture of sad stories from elsewhere blends with the local health warnings, the disruption in the economy, many suddenly without work, and the drop in the stock market. You might feel petty discouraged by your disrupted work and school routines, but those are also part of the mix.
Requests. Paul teaches us in Philippians to give to God all the requests — plural. Each and every request should be spelled out for God. Make each of your prayer needs clear and distinct. God has no time limit for hearing from you; he’s glad to hear each and every request. So instead of treating it all like one giant ball of wax, bring each one to God. Make a list of each anxiety, each strain, each problem, each concern, each issue no matter how minor.
With Thanksgiving. But don’t bring the request alone — bundle it with thanksgiving. The way we honor God and make it a request: “Father, I admit and thank you that you have given me good in the past [this is the thanks part] — and so I ask you for more good now [this is the request].”
Do not be anxious, but… “You say not to be anxious, Paul. But how do I do that? How do I will my self to not be anxious!?” Paul gives us his method: DON’T be anxious, but DO make known to God your requests & thanks.
Requests with Thanksgiving are Paul’s method for fighting anxiety.
Giving God each request, wrapped in thanks, is Paul’s method for fighting anxiety.
Prayers with Thanksgiving
The prayers below are my personal attempt to unpack all the different layers of problem that make me feel anxious. I’m writing from my perspective in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
MY HEALTH. Thank you for my safety, health and family’s health. Please keep us healthy, and protect us from this disease.
FAMILY. Thank you for my family here in my home with me, and for giving us a place of safety and shelter. Please help us to care well for one another, to be patient and compassionate and gentle with one another.
FRIENDS and NEIGHBORS. Thank you for the friends you’ve given me, and the neighbors you have put me near. Thank you for their funny words online and encouraging waves. Please heal all of them from their illnesses; especially protect those who are at special risk of the disease!
JOB and INCOME. Thank you for the work you’ve allowed me to do, income you’ve provided through that work. Thank you for modern technology allowing so much work to keep going on. Please provide me with income and work I need.
LOCAL HEALTH. Thank you that there are so few cases of this virus near me, and you’ve provided care for each one. Thank you that there are only 52 cases out of over a million people in my county; thank you for keeping most of the counties around me completely free of the disease! Please prevent and end this disease in my neighborhood, my town, and my county.
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. Thank you for diligent officials who are willing to serve and take responsibility in this situation. Please give them wisdom to lead and govern well, and make them healthy and strong as they do so. Let them seek your wisdom.
LOCAL BUSINESSES. Thank you for so many local businesses that provide jobs and services to so many people, and for good infrastructure for them to do it in. Please provide all that these local business people need; keep their doors open and keep their staff employed. Please guide them in applying for financial assistance.
NATIONAL ECONOMY. Thank you for our businesses and economy that gives so much freedom and does so much good for people, and that allows people to invest freely in other companies. Please help the managers at these companies to guide their companies well. Please give everyone involved in the market wisdom about their investing, to act wisely and prudently, and let them see that You provide all we need — sometimes even through the market.
NATIONWIDE HEALTH. Thank you for a strong health care system with so many millions of dedicated, professional caregivers. Please provide all they need to maintain health. Protect all of those healthcare workers from disease and hopelessness.
WORLDWIDE HEALTH. Thank you for the diligent scientists and doctors around the world who have warned us of this danger. Please guide people in every country to learn of the risk, and act to stop spreading the virus. Please help the researchers working on vaccines and antivirals; use their work to save many.
While we are here on earth we should never attempt to make such a distinction between prayer and praise that we should either praise without prayer or pray without praise; but with every prayer and supplication we should mingle thanksgiving, and thus make known our requests unto God.
Charles Spurgeon, “A Prayer Perfumed with Praise”, April 20, 1879