The Meaning of Philippians 4:6 Explained

Philippians 4:6

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

YLT: for nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer, and by supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God;

Darby: Be careful about nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

ASV: In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

What does Philippians 4:6 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Earlier Paul commended Timothy for being anxious over the welfare of the Philippians ( Philippians 2:20). Here he said we should not be anxious about anything. The same Greek word (a present imperative, merimnate) appears in both places. The resolution of this problem probably lies in viewing anxiety as concern that may become fretful and inappropriate if taken too far. Paul"s point here was that rather than becoming distraught over a particular situation we should take it to the Lord in prayer (cf. Matthew 6:25-34). We should pray about everything that concerns us. Someone has said, "Why worry when you can pray?" Prayer needs to replace worry in the Christian"s life.
Paul used several different words for prayer in this verse. "Prayer" (proseuche) is the most general term for our communications to God. "Supplication" (NASB) or "petition" (NIV, deesis) refers to requests for particular benefits. "Thanksgiving" (eucharistias) is grateful acknowledgment of past mercies. "Requests" (aitemata) looks at individual requests of God that form part of the whole prayer. [1] Paul offered strong encouragement to seek release from anxiety in prayer and more prayer. [2]
"Lack of gratitude is the first step to idolatry ( Romans 1:21)." [3]
Howard Hendricks called Philippians 4:2-6 "a five-part recipe for conflict resolution: (1) "Rejoice in the Lord," that Isaiah , get beyond yourselves and look to the Lord. (2) "Let your gentleness be evident to all." In other words speak with kindness to each other. (3) "Do not be anxious." Relax, and give it all to God. (4) "Be thankful." The simple act of expressing gratitude for our blessings takes the heat out of infection. (5) Present your requests to God. Prayer realigns us and restores peace ..." [4]

Context Summary

Philippians 4:1-9 - Inspiring Exhortations
What a strong and faithful heart was Paul's! Poor and despised though he was, he had both joys and crowns of which no hostile force could deprive him. He lived in the encompassing atmosphere of eternity, as we may. Surely these two Christian women could not have withstood this tender exhortation; and all his fellow-workers must have been heartened by the thought that their names were dear to Christ, and entered in the birthday book of the twice-born.
Joy and peace are the subjects of the next paragraph. How wonderful that these struggling little churches were drinking of springs of which the princes and citizens of Greece and Rome knew nothing. Note the conditions. We must be moderate in our ambitions and gentle in our behavior. We must ever practice the presence of our Lord-He is always at hand. We must turn over all causes of anxiety to the Father's infinite care and leave them with Him. We must thank Him for the past, and count on Him for the future. While we pray, the Angel of Peace will descend to stand as sentry at our heart's door. But we must possess the God of peace as well as the peace of God-the one condition being that we must earnestly pursue all things that are true, just, pure, and lovely. [source]

Chapter Summary: Philippians 4

1  From particular admonitions,
4  he proceeds to general exhortations,
10  showing how he rejoiced at their generosity toward him while in prison
19  And so he concludes with prayer and salutations

Greek Commentary for Philippians 4:6

In nothing be anxious [μηδεν μεριμνατε]
Present imperative in prohibition, “stop being anxious.” See μη μεριμνατε — mē merimnāte in Matthew 6:31. [source]
With thanksgiving [μετα ευχαριστιας]
In all the forms of prayer here named thanksgiving should appear. [source]
Be careful [μεριμνᾶτε]
See on Matthew 6:25. Rev., better, be anxious. [source]
Prayer and supplication []
General and special. See on Luke 5:33; see on Luke 8:38. Προσευχή prayeronly of prayer to God. The two words often occur together, as Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1; 1 Timothy 5:5. [source]
Requests [αἰτήματα]
Specific details of supplication. [source]
Unto God [πρὸς τὸν Θεόν]
The force of πρός is rather in your intercourse with God. See on with God, John 1:1. [source]

What do the individual words in Philippians 4:6 mean?

Nothing be anxious about but in everything by prayer and - supplication with thanksgiving the requests of you let be made known to - God
Μηδὲν μεριμνᾶτε ἀλλ’ ἐν παντὶ τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει μετὰ εὐχαριστίας τὰ αἰτήματα ὑμῶν γνωριζέσθω πρὸς τὸν Θεόν

Μηδὲν  Nothing 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: μηδείς 
Sense: nobody, no one, nothing.
μεριμνᾶτε  be  anxious  about 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: μεριμνάω  
Sense: to be anxious.
παντὶ  everything 
Parse: Adjective, Dative Neuter Singular
Root: πᾶς  
Sense: individually.
προσευχῇ  prayer 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: προσευχή  
Sense: prayer addressed to God.
τῇ  - 
Parse: Article, Dative Feminine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
δεήσει  supplication 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: δέησις  
Sense: need, indigence, want, privation, penury.
εὐχαριστίας  thanksgiving 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Plural
Root: εὐχαριστία  
Sense: thankfulness.
αἰτήματα  requests 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: αἴτημα  
Sense: petition, request, required.
ὑμῶν  of  you 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 2nd Person Plural
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.
γνωριζέσθω  let  be  made  known 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: γνωρίζω  
Sense: to make known.
τὸν  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Masculine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Θεόν  God 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.