Be Careful For Nothing

Prayer pt 1:

Careful For Nothing

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Phil 4:4-6

My daughter Natalie had said to me in the first few months after we began the Church in Sunbury that I ought to do a sermon series on the topic of prayer. It was something she loved and so did I and it was always my intention to undertake this incredible study.

I’m not sure why it was that I had not undertaken it until now. 

The sermon series of the book of Romans that I began before leaving Faith Baptist Church in Fawkner in 2016 and re-started in January 2019, together with The Bible Survey Series undertaken from 2017 to 2018, had indeed helped lay the foundation of the Church and now, seeing the end in sight for the close of the book of Romans, and in light of the current affairs of our world, it seems a deep dive into the topic of prayer is vital for our Confidenceour Faith, our Joy and our Witness.

I don’t yet know how many sermons I will undertake in this series on Prayer, nor do I know how much of each sermon is going to overlap as the topic of prayer is expensive, but I do know that those four overall categories will house the different values of prayer directly. 

CONFIDENCE

FAITH

JOY

WITNESS

Confidence is that which assuages fears and anxieties. It quiets concern, it alleviates our worries, it provides that assurance we need to not only to get through life but to excel in life. Confidence underpins the foundation of everything we desire to build upon it, and yet it is merely one of the side benefits to prayer.

Faith is that trusting element based on what we have seen and experienced in trusting God at his word. “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness” says the apostle (Rom 4:3). In this we see Faith as that very element through which salvation is gained. We trusted, having not seen nor witnessed, but having confidence that God cannot lie and it gained to us eternal life. This can ONLY grow when prayer becomes a constant state of the heart.

JOY has its fountain within; unlike happiness it is NOT based on that which occurs without. Joy does not stem from the ‘happenings’ in or around our life, it is a well springing up from within our hearts and spirit, that can only be gained when such constant communication with the Living God becomes the staple of our life. We “rejoice in the Lord alway” (Phil 4:4) and uncommonly do so even in tribulation (Ja 1:2) and especially as we witness that our redemption draweth nigh (Lk 21:28). 

That “Witness” is to be understated as all the elements above come togetherdemonstrating a manner of life that is otherworldly. A life to which all people enquire as to the HOPE they see so evident within us (1 Pet 3:15)

But more so, it is a witness of Christ working in the lives of those we pray for testifying it was our intercession for them that God heard and answered.

So we will come to see that prayer is not INCIDENTAL to the Christian life, on the contrary, it is INSTRUMENTAL.

Dr Martin Loyd Jones wrote of prayer saying;

Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God

It was J. Oswald Sanders that wrote of “Effective Prayer” in 1969 saying

No spiritual exercise is such a blending of complexity and simplicity. It is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try, yet the sublimest strains that reach the Majesty on high. It is as appropriate to the aged philosopher as to the little child. It is the expression of a moment and the attitude of a lifetime. … It is an agony and an ecstasy. It is submissive and yet importunate. In the one moment it lays hold of God and binds the devil. It can be focused on a single objective and it can roam the world. It can be abject confession and rapt adoration. It invests puny man with a sort of omnipotence(Effective Prayer [Chicago: Moody, 1969], 7).[1]

Beloved it is my hope that from the beginning of this series your attitude to the activity of prayer will change from whatever diet you currently have, to one of hungering for more. That if your prayer life at this present time is one of casual consideration, like when one goes shopping and just so happens to see something they might like to add to the trolley, to one of absolute necessity, as if it’s the ONLY item you came for.

And it is my hope that by the end of this series, we all have gained such an addiction to prayer that barely a thought comes to our minds that does not contain a consideration of Christ, that the last thought of the night and the first thought of the morning is of our Lord, and that the cares of this life are as far removed from us so as to seem that of a foreign land only under observation.

Often Careful For Everything

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Phil 4:4-6

As the apostle Paul writes from his prison cell, he calls on the Philippian church to “be careful for nothing”.

It is always an interesting curiosity, that rarely does the Bible ever command or call for its recipients to do that which already comes naturally. Usually, it commands that which is opposed to nature.

Here Paul writes that we ought to be “careful for nothing”, and this is because we far too often find ourselves Careful for Everything.

The word “Careful” simply refers to being ‘Full of Care’, in other words, worried, anxious, fearful, having our hearts filled with the cares and concerns and worries of life.

There are some wonderful lessons we learn in the Bible respecting the choices we make, and we find indeed that being worried about the things of this life is a choice.

Turn in your bibles to Luke 10:38-42

38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosenthat good part, which shall not be taken away from her

Notice Martha “Careful and troubled about many things”. This seems the natural place of us all, we worry about many things and in this last two weeks we seem to have been given great cause to worry. 

But notice how the Lord described Mary, she 

hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her

When Paul wrote “be careful for nothing”, he also gives the direct impression that this is a ‘Choice’ we make rather than a condition we find ourselves under. Jesus said Mary had “Chosen” that which Martha had NOT chosen, and far too many of us choose to be worried about many things.

But Pastor, is there Not a Cause?

Beloved, there have always been causes for the anxiety of people. The last two weeks have been our cause for anxiety and worry, for our carefulness. The world over have recently experienced the very same thing, first with mandates against their jobs and now with mandates against their freedoms with the Green Pass or CoVid pass and one day will come a time when the world will face mandates upon their lives according to Revelation 13.

What is occurring is global and as such the entire world is “Careful and troubled about many things”. 

I don’t make light of the situation that many find themselves in today as a mass of people, but individually all people at diverse times both together and independently have had much to be careful of, much to be worried about and this is not limited to the time we now live.

The 20th Century alone has such a glut of global events that worried most of the world.

Through the Old Testament the people of the Lord had many times in life where they had ‘Cause to fear’. Many times throughout history Israel had kingdoms around them that would come and take away their place and nation, many times they cried to the Lord to deliver them. 

Paul speaks to the troubles they endured when preaching the Gospel during his missionary journeys;

Paul wrote saying 

“…but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.”

Yet in the very next verse he writes;

 6 “Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us…”(2 Cor 7:5-6)

Nevertheless God”, you can read that as just another of the “But God” passages in the Bible. 

Paul wrote that the natural state of the heart is to fear, to worry, to be careful about many things, but then he provides us with a choice to replace those anxieties by our focus upon Christ.

But God

It was Paul who wrote “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7)

We are OFTEN CAREFUL FOR EVERYTHING, and not always without cause, indeed there can be absolute justification for our worries, for our fears, for many of our anxieties IF  GOD could care less about those he loves.

THAT IS THE RUB!!!

We acknowledge the cause of our fears, but for those who are the Lords can they be justified?

ARE WE WILLING TO CONSIDER THE MANY “BUT GOD” PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE? 

Are we willing to apply them to those he loves?

Are we RIGHT to choose to be “Careful and troubled about many things”, or should we be “Careful for Nothing”?

Joyful Being Careful for Nothing

Paul begins our passage with a command to rejoice, to have an evident joy known unto all men and he gives reason saying “The Lord is at hand”, a fascinating statement again of the imminent return of Christ for his Church. 

The Lord is at handA statement that says there is NOTHING that needs to happenbefore he Comes. It is the Imminecy of Christs return alone that puts to bed any idea HELD that claims HE CANNOT COME UNTIL…such and so happens.

No, “The Lord is at hand” and can come any moment.

(Side Note: When it comes to Eschatology, that is, the doctrine of last things, there is a shortcut to be able to know if the preacher you listen to is trustworthy. ONE VERY SIMPLE WAY TO TELL. When he teaches contrary to the Premillennial Pretribulational Rapture of the Church, does he need to “Re-translate” the words in your King James Bible? That’s all. If a man MUST redefine or re-translate a given word in the Bible, what he is saying is that God is wrong and I am right. Be careful beloved.)

4 Rejoice in the Lord I: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Phil 4:4-6

Joy and being ‘careful for nothing’, that is, leading a completely care free life, seem to go hand in hand. 

A life unburdened by fears for the basic necessities of Life is free to rejoice through life, but a life that is both free of worry AND consciously cared for by their creator has a comfort and a peace and joy that accompanies it…and that it what is said in the very next verse;

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7)

Let’s allow Jesus to explain why this is, turn to one of the most famous and comforting passages in the Bible, Matt 6:25-34;

2Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek🙂 for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

I believe it to be true that if we all trusted that Jesus words here were absolutely true, we would never worry about another day again.

  • I cannot accept this to be false. I cannot accept that this is an exaggeration, I cannot accept logically this to be untrue.
  • I have experienced my Lord the moment I was born again.
  • I sense him when I pray
  • I am convicted by him when I sin
  • I am lost when I am not walking with him
  • I am joyful when I walk beside him
  • I greave when not in communion through prayer
  • I rejoice when I speak to him
  • I have seen him answer prayers that are small
  • And I have seen him answer things too incredible for me to think it just coincidence.

I cannot accept Jesus words here to be false and I will not permit the devil to sucker punch me into thinking my Lord is NOT FAITHFUL to his word.

The greatest sorrow I feel is when I see brethren suffer, not in life, but in attitude because they choose not to believe these words! 

If we trusted our Lord with these words, there should never be the same fears that the “gentiles” have. 

Jesus was speaking to the Jews in this passage, his reference to the gentiles was aswipe at the reality that the Jews had the true God as their father, and the gentiles were the sinners of the heathen world.

They are the ones that fear What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? But NOT those who have God as their father! Why?

Because;

your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

What is he saying?

He is saying what he had already said;

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

….

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Somehow, someway, even out of nowhere, GOD PROVIDES FOR HIS OWN AND THEREFORE;

JOYFULLY, WE OUGHT TO BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING!

This is the reality.

Now, notice that the birds of the air do not have the hand of God feeding themfrom heaven with a worm dropped into their mouths…they need to go out and search for it trusting that he provides, so too is that for you.

Don’t just sit there at home in worry and fear, trust that the Lords promises are sure and get up and get out and do what you need to do trusting that the Lord is AT HAND.

When it comes to work, the Bible makes it plain that if a man shall not work, neither should he eat 2 Thess 3:10

So you have a duty to work and if you are willing to find employment, or to work with your own hands, or to attend to your own business, in whatsoever ability you have, God will provide all your needs. 

Your dependence is on God not Government (though they have long desired to replace God and will one day demand worship as God). You are not to worry and fear like those who have not God.

Your trust is in the one who quenched the thirst of his people with water from a rock, and fed them with bread from heaven.

Who parted the sea that they may cross dry shod.

Who walked on the waves of the sea “and rebuked the wind and said unto the seapeace, be still” (Mrk 4:39)

This is where YOUR TRUST IS SO IT IS PERFECTLY CONSISTENT OF PAUL TO COMMAND WE TO BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING!

Often Prayerful For Nothing

But far too often are the people of God PRAYERFUL FOR NOTHING.

It is of great interest to me that those who are “Careful for everything” also seem to be those who are too often ‘PRAYERFUL FOR NOTHING”.

Those who are always worried about things, are also those who rarely seek their comfort in Christ.

My mother remains to me the perfect picture of a person in constant fear and worry.

I loved her dearly but she was one of those who may indeed have been saved as a teenager, but she lost that first love early and in later life sought unto “wizards that peep and that mutter” (Isa 8:19)

Yes, sounds funny but that Biblical reference speaks of the people of God in the Old testament doing the same thing. They knew God but rarely sought after him.

They had trouble in the world and yet hoped that the world would deliver them.

We do the same thing every time we check the news. We betray our real source of hope each time we check the updates hoping for a change of course

Yes, I’m sure, some of you will say that you were just curious when you waited for the 4pm Supreme Court decision on Friday or waited upon Nero’s decision today, but your emotional response might witness where your hope ultimately lays.

Did it change?

Did you sorrow Friday afternoon? Did you rejoice this afternoon?

Sure…now you hate me…its ok, I didn’t take this job to be liked 

But imagine for a moment what life is like when you are prayerful for everything rather than nothing. When your comfort is in Christ, your joy in him, your anchor fixed and your foundation firm.

Imagine what life is like independent from the decrees of the emperor, imagine the freedom to do that which does not shackle you to the whims of the world?

Please don’t get me wrong, we have prayed for a temporary reprieve and I see answers to prayer and in that I rejoice for God is working wonderfully amongst us and will work around us. Let us take advantage of the liberty, but let us examine ourselves respecting where our hope lay.

I want to admit to you that it was only quite recently that I completely came to care lessabout what the news would bring.

I found my Lord to be the greatest source of my comfort and I have already grieved replacing him with the temporary comforts of this evil world.

Don’t wait till the last minute to pray.

The World is Prayerful for nothing other than the last resort, it is so incredibly sad when Christians also pray for nothing other than when they are in trouble.

The rabbinic teachers in Israel taught the need of the people to pray and to avoid resembling the heathen of the world in their habit of ONLY praying when they were desperate.

The Talmud is a volume that codified rabbinic tradition and on this topic is written, Honour the physician before ye have need of him”.

DO NOT REMAIN PRAYERFUL FOR NOTHING!

Turn to Isaiah 47:12-13

The people of God had long sought after the things of the world to bring them comfort and far too have we too have, of a sort, done the same thing.

Look how the Lord responds when they seek him ONLY after they are desperate.

Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. 13 Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.

Well you say, at least they did seek after the Lord at some point. But how far can a people backslide from the Lord? 

King Ahaz just trespassed against the Lord more and more till he was ruined by his false hope, he was PRAYERFUL FOR NOTHING and is a fair example.

2 Chron 28:22-23

22 And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord: this is that king Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.

While the Lord is NOT in all our thoughts and while we try to gain our comfort from this life and what little this world has to offer, we gain little joy and little comfort, In this world we gain TEMPORARY JOY AND TEMPORARY COMFORT.

And all this because we are too often PRAYERFUL FOR NOTHING.

We do not separate our desires from that of the world and as such there is no greater hope in us than that which is found in the world

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto GodPhil 4:4-6

Interesting isn’t it?

We are too often Careful for Everything and Prayerful for nothing, yet Paul tells us to be “Careful for nothing and Prayerful for everything

How joyful would our lives be if we simply made this choice?

Joyful Being Prayerful For Everything

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Phil 4:4-6

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a nineteenth century preacher who began his formal ministry at the tender age of nineteen years.

People all over the UK would come to see this Child Preacher who would become the most famous preacher of his time.

He spoke a good deal on Prayer and spoke of both its value and frequency and we do well to consider some of his words.

In his commentary on the Parables of Our Lord he wrote;

Like the old knights, always in warfare, not always on their steeds dashing forward with their lances in rest to unhorse an adversary, but always wearing their weapons where they could readily reach them, and always ready to encounter wounds or death for the sake of the cause which they championed. Those grim warriors often slept in their armour; so even when we sleep, we are still to be in the spirit of prayer, so that if perchance we wake in the night we may still be with God. Our soul, having received the divine centripetal influence which makes it seek its heavenly centre, should be evermore naturally rising towards God himself. 

Our heart is to be like those beacons and watchtowers which were prepared along the coast of England when the invasion of the Armada was hourly expectednot always blazing, but with the wood always dry, and the match always there, the whole pile being ready to blaze up at the appointed moment.

Our souls should be in such a condition that prayer should be very frequent with us. No need to pause in business and leave the counter, and fall down upon the knees; the spirit should send up its silent, short, swift petitions to the throne of grace …

A Christian should carry the weapon of all-prayer like a drawn sword in his hand. We should never sheathe our supplications. Never may our hearts be like an unlimbered gun, with everything to be done to it before it can thunder on the foe, but it should be like a piece of cannon, loaded and primed, only requiring the fire that it may be discharged. The soul should be not always in the exercise of prayer, but always in the energy of prayer; not always actually praying, but always intentionally praying[2]

We ask how often we should pray, the answer of the Bible is “Continuing instant in prayer” (Rom 12:12)

Prayer in the Bible is not a one-time thing undertaken is times of trouble, it is to be as natural as breathing. Just as the atmospheric Pressure around us compels us to breath without consciously doing so, so should our life lived in this world press us to pray without consciously setting a time. 

Jesus said “men ought always to pray and not to faint: (Luke 18:1)

The Church began by “continuing stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” Acts 2:42

When Peter was in prison “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” Acts 12:5

In Ephesians 6 after speaking of the armor of God Paul wrote; “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” Eph 6:18

One of the shortest verses in the Bible is found in 1 Thess 5:17 that links to the second shortest verse before it, “16 Rejoice evermore, 17 pray without ceasing”.

Beloved, it is in prayer that we have a heart set on God

  • it is here that we learn to trust him, 
  • here that we come for comfort, 
  • here that we come to him with nothing, 
  • no strength, 
  • no confidence in our ability, 
  • filthy even by the garment spotted by the flesh, 
  • having nothing to bring but petition.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Phil 4:4-6

It was here, in this posture, in this state of the heart that we made one request of the Lord that gave to us a hope so great that no words can properly describe, and that is the forgiveness of sin and the joy of everlasting life.

ETERNAL LIFE WAS GRANTED ON OUR KNEES PETITIONING GOD.

Shall not this temporal life be provided for in the same manner?

OUR FEAR OF DEATH REMOVED BY OUR FAITH IN CHRIST

Shall not our fear in life be removed by our focus on him?

Beloved, you can choose how you want to live, that is not a choice I can make for you. If you choose to do things your way, then accept the consequences to that choice.

I have made my choice, my choice is to TRUST GOD AT HIS WORD and let him have the consequences of that decision.

The Lord has my very breath in his hands and I am tired of doing things my own way. I give up the worries of this life, I give up being careful for everything and prayerful for nothing,  I have made my choice and that only recently.

What about you? 

Will you from this day forward determine to say “NO MORE, from this day on I aim to BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING”?

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. Job 19:25-27

Every day that this world turns I see the Bible come alive

It is a living testimony to each one of us that God is true.

And every event that we see unfold, shouts to me that God is faithful, that he is as good as his word, and that he is coming soon for his bride.

If that is true, so too it is that he will provide for his own until that time, and I will be careful for nothing.

Maranatha. 


[1] MacArthur, J.F., Jr., 1995. Alone with God, Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] MacArthur, J.F., Jr., 1995. Alone with God, Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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