(Philippians 4:4-6) 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.
As we noted in past weeks, our Lord’s Day worship is an extended conversation with the Lord of heaven and earth. It is a prolonged and multifaceted exercise in prayer. But, just like everything else, our prayers need to be informed, enthused and regulated by the Word of God. We are not to pray according to our own lights, but rather according to the instructions of the One to whom our prayers are directed.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he reminded them of the manner and mindset of prayer that that is truly pleasing to God. From his pithy instructions we gather that prayer is never to be regarded as a cosmic Coke machine, where one simply puts in the correct amount of change, punches a few buttons and out comes the desired product. Granted, prayer is one of God’s means for accomplishing His purposes here on earth, but often His purposes have more to do with fully forming Christ in us than in answering the specifics of our supplications.
And so we are commanded to come into God’s presence rejoicing, and then again rejoicing some more. Did I mention that we are to rejoice? But note that we are to rejoice, not in our pain or affliction, but rather in the Lord, who has Himself promised “never to leave us, nor forsake us” and to work all things together for our good.
Nextly we are commanded to “let our moderation” be evident to all those around us. The meaning of the original Greek word for “moderation” connotes a “forbearing spirit.” In other words, we are commanded to display a cheerful resignation to the providences of God, whatever they may be, and a cheerful acknowledgment that He is close enough at hand to deal with whatever danger, difficulty or distress He has marked out for us.
If we, by faith, are doing these things, then of course anxiousness is out of the question, and the only thing left is to do is to present our prayers, supplications and requests mingled together with heartfelt thanksgiving, and seasoned with joyful gratitude for mercies already received, and even for the ones yet to be given.
Joyless prayers deny the very Gospel upon which they depend to make it into the ears of the Almighty. Anxious prayers impugn God’s wisdom, goodness and power. Thankless prayers are void of the faith requisite to make them (or anything for that matter) pleasing to God.
The call to worship is, at its core, a call to prayer. But unless we care not whether our prayers are heard and answered, then we must learn to pray in the manner and with the mindset prescribed by our Lord. And that means with gladness, and with faith….So, come let us worship the Lord together!