Paul speaks against anxiety of any sort: “Don’t fret or worry.” It is the same word Jesus used in Matthew 6:25-34. Anxiety saps our energies and focuses our thinking on all the ways that things can go wrong. In most cases, anxiety probes possibilities that never occur. It’s a distraction that undermines godly faith and practice. Thus, Paul advises that we get rid of it.
Paul instructs the Philippians not to be anxious “about anything.” We sometimes convince ourselves that some kinds of worry are pious—worry about our children, about having enough money to give to the Lord’s work. But Paul tells us that all such worries are unnecessary. Worry is not constructive; it doesn’t contribute to the solution, but it becomes a part of the problem. It saps energy and focus that could be employed for productive tasks; it’s not just unproductive, it’s counterproductive.
Prayer is an antidote to worry. Prayer is taking these concerns to God and looking to Him for the solution. Prayer acknowledges our weakness and dependence upon God. Paul doesn’t use just one word for prayer; he employs the whole spectrum of prayer. Included in this is “thanksgiving”–the expression of gratitude for prayers previously answered and of assurance that our current prayers will be answered in due time.
For us to achieve this kind of spiritual contentment demands that we undergo a complete transformation of our thinking processes. As unbelievers living in a secular world, our thinking was greatly distorted, both in method and in content. When we came to faith, we came to know Christ, and He caused us to see life in a new and different way. We must now continue to grow in the truth and to shun falsehood; we must learn to discern between what the world wrongly calls truth and the truths of the Gospel.