The Essence of Prayer XII – Prayer in Good Times and Bad

Philippians 4:10-12  In verse 10, Paul brings up the whole reason for this letter, which is that they have sent relief to him while he was in Rome.  In this context he brings up being in need and commends them for supplying his needs.  In verses 11, 12 he expresses his ability to accept being in need as well as being in prosperity.

Philippians 4:6  Prayer in Good Times and Bad

There are times for believers when things are going very well.  There are other times when believers feel that they are in real, real need.  The believer is often allowed by God to be in very difficult circumstances.  Ps 102:6, 7  A pelican in the wilderness has great difficulty in finding food.  We often think of sparrows as happy little birds hopping around in flocks but sometimes there is a solitary one separated from his flock.  Psalm 119:83  Sometimes a believer feels like a wineskin drying up in smoke.  These are all very difficult circumstances when the believer feels like everything either has been taken away or what he now has might be taken away.  Paul says he knows how to be in such a place of need.  He also knows how to be in a place where everything appears to be fine.  Both places require prayer.  The believer must view both extremities from God’s hand.


Deuteronomy 32:15  Jeshurun was filled with the good things God had given and rebelled.  It is possible for the believer to grow complacent in ease.  The believer has the need to remember how he came into a place of ease.  David did not forget this, Psalm 23.  Yet, anxiety can develop that what the believer now has will be taken away, fear that things will go from good to bad.  Anxiety is also what the believer faces during times of difficulty, fear that things will go from bad to worse.  There is a necessity for the believer to be able to go to God properly in both extremes.  The command is to have no anxiety but to be in prayer during all circumstances, good or bad.  There is a necessity for the believer to bring all concerns to God.  There must be no holding back, as if anything is too big or too small to bring to God.  This requires a living relationship with the Lord and a living faith.


It’s easy to bring things to “the Lord” in a general way and not bring a specific request to God in a personal way.  The believer must learn to ask God to work in specific ways.  Psalm 57:2  God is control of all things.  The believer comes to Him who is in control of all things to petition Him specifically with urgent requests.  So Paul exhorts the believer, “Don’t worry about it – bring it!”  This is to be specific and direct.  The believer is to come boldly, Hebrews 4:16, right into God’s presence.


Paul further exhorts that prayer is to be with thanksgiving.  This implies that the believer acknowledges God’s sovereignty as the only One who gives all things.  Why would the believer come to Him without this knowledge?  If the believer can’t acknowledge God’s sovereignty then prayer is more like worrying.  To acknowledge God’s sovereignty in prayer of necessity leads to thanksgiving for His providing all things.  The believer must also acknowledge His goodness with thanksgiving as the One who gives good things.  The believer can go to Him boldly to fulfill every need and to keep his soul.