The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

Cares, Prayer and Believing (PDF) PDF version

Cares, Prayer and Believing

Stress is certainly one of the top problems of our age. The media and the doctors very frequently speak about it and a whole category of professionals (psychoanalysts, psychologists, therapists etc.) has been grown to help people to fight it. However, their "solutions" - usually some advises or worse, some pills that perhaps differ little from common drugs - cannot give a real answer to it, and this because they ignore what the Word of God says about it. Therefore, if we do not want to be ignorant as well, it is needed to see what this Word says and this is what we will do today.

1. Philippians 4:4-7

Though many passages of the Word deal with the problem of anxiety, a look just at Philippians 4:4-7 is enough to show us what God thinks about it. Really, there we read:

Philippians 4:4-7
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"

Verse 4 calls us to rejoice in the Lord and in fact to rejoice, to be glad in Him, ALWAYS. As it says, the Lord is "at hand" i.e. very near to us. That's why we should be "ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING BUT in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, to let our requests be made known to God;" As it may be obvious, the word "but" that is used in this passage makes a contrast between what we should not do and which is to be anxious, and what we should do and which is "in everything to let our requests be made known to God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving". Another contrast is also made with the words “nothing” and “everything”. Thus, we are to be anxious for NOTHING but in EVERYTHING to let our requests be made known to God. The guaranteed result of these instructions is given in verse 7, where we are promised that if we follow them "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Summarizing therefore, the solution that God suggests to the anxiety problem is very very simple: it consists of one "not to do": do not be anxious or "be anxious for nothing". One "to do": "in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God", and the result that is PEACE, and in fact "the peace of GOD [the only true peace], which surpasses all understanding".

2. I Peter 5:7

The above passage of Philippians 4 is not the only one that is concerned with the cares problem. With the same problem is also I Peter 5:7 concerned. There we read:

I Peter 5:6-7
"Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, CASTING ALL YOUR CARES UPON HIM, FOR HE CARES FOR YOU"

To take something that is upon you and cast it upon someone else requires action. That's exactly what God asks to do with our cares1: instead of bearing them on ourselves, He asks us to take action, but not by worrying for them but by casting them on HIM. And this not only for a few cares that we may think as more important than others, but for ALL OUR CARES. "CAST ALL YOUR CARES UPON HIM, FOR HE CARES FOR YOU" says the Word. Moreover, in another part it says:

Psalms 55:22
"Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved"

Obviously therefore, the question is not whether God cares for us nor whether He desires to be our cares-bearer but whether WE WILL HAVE THE HUMILITY ("humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.....casting all your cares upon Him" the text says) to cast all our cares UPON HIM, exactly as He calls us.

3. Matthew 6:25-34

Apart from the above two passages, that are concerned with the cares problem, Matthew 6:25-34 is also concerned with it. There we read:

Matthew 6:25-34
"Therefore I say to you do not worry [Greek: "merimno" the same word as in Philippians 4:6 and I Peter 5:7] about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat? or "what shall we drink?" or what shall we wear?" For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Food water and clothes are some of our most basic physical needs. However, we are not the only ones that know this. GOD knows it as well!! That's why He tells us through the Lord Jesus Christ: "do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat" or "what shall we drink?" or "what shall we wear?" ...............for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things2". And if one asks what are we to do instead of worrying, verse 33 tells us: "seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you". FIRST is God, His kingdom and His righteousness and all the other things will be added to us. As also Matthew 7:7-11 says:

Matthew 7:7-11
"ASK and it shall be given to you; SEEK and you will find; KNOCK, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?"

Who is the one that finds? Who is the one to whom it will be opened? To whom God will give good things? To those who ASK Him, to those who knock His door. Again therefore, as in I Peter 5:7 also here the question is not whether God is willing to take action and cover our needs but whether WE will take action, not by worrying but by praying (that's our action, plus anything else that God may tell us to do), casting all our cares upon Him. It is then His job to act, giving us what we have prayed for and even more (Ephesians 3:20), IF of course what we have prayed for is in accordance with His will.

4. I John 5:14-15

Regarding the latter (i.e. the alignment of what we ask of God with His will) I John 5:14-15 tells us:

I John 5:14-15
"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him"

This passage does not say that "if we ask anything God hears us" but "if we ask anything, ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, God hears us". Therefore, for our prayer to be heard it is necessary what we pray to be in alignment with God's will, which as Romans 12:2 tells us is: "GOOD, ACCEPTABLE AND PERFECT". Thus, it is necessary to know the will of God so that to know what we should expect from Him. And as to know the will of someone he has first to make it known to us somehow, so also to know the will of God He has to make it known to us, either through the Bible, His written word, or through the holy spirit that He gave us when we were born again. Regarding the former, when for example it says that we should not care about eating, drinking and clothing but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to us, it gives us the will of God about cares and priorities: put God first it tells us, be anxious for nothing; instead cast all your cares upon Him, and "all these things will be added to you". The same also happens with many other things that have general application for all, such as salvation, manifestations of the spirit, healing etc. For these and for any other thing that the rightly divided Word of God defines as God's will, it is not needed to wait for God to come and announce to us in private that we can really have them for HE HAS ALREADY ANNOUNCED THIS IN HIS WORD.

However, apart from the things that have a general application and are fully covered by the written Word of God, the Bible, there are also other, special things, that because of their special character are not covered by it. Thus for example, the Word of God, apart from some general guidelines about what we should generally expect3, does not tell me that the x job is for me, or that I should go to the so and so place tomorrow to do the such and such work for God there. How therefore can I know what is the will of God about these or other similar things? The answer is THROUGH THE SPIRIT THAT GOD GAVE US to communicate with us. God is not only in the Bible, as many Christians think. He is also in us through the spirit that He gave us and which is manifested by the nine ways enumerated in I Corinthians 12:8-10. These are: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues. From these nine manifestations, those of word of knowledge and word of wisdom have specifically been given to us for knowledge and wisdom about situations, that otherwise would be impossible to acquire by the five sense. Thus, if I want to learn whether it is God's will to get the so and so job or to do the such and such thing, I should not go to my intellect, nor should I start try it out. Instead, I should go to my Father, discuss the thing with Him, and He will make known to me whether it is wise and good to make the choices that I may consider to make. As James 1:5 says:

James 1:5
"if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him"

God really wants us (this is His WILL) to go to Him and receive wisdom abundantly and without reproach.

To conclude therefore: God really nowhere tells us that all His will is in His written Word, as many people support. A large part of it that has general application for everybody and that we all need is there. Yet, there are things that are special and cannot be covered by the written Word. These include a large part of our everyday decisions and God certainly is not without a will for them. He really has a will for everything we are doing and the way to find it, if of course it is not already written in the Bible, is by asking Him to show it to us, to reveal it to us, through His spirit. Returning therefore to I John 5:14-15, we have to make sure, through the written and/or the spoken word of God what is the will of God about the things that we are asking of Him. If what we are asking of Him is in alignment with His will, we can be sure that it will come to pass as we trust Him. If however, it is not in alignment with God's will, then I John 5:14-15 makes clear that ....... fortunately this will not happen.

5. "Asking in faith"

We examined previously James 1:5 that speaks about asking God for wisdom. Continuing in the same passage we read:

James 1:5-8
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything form the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways"

As we saw in the previous parts, for someone to receive from God, it is needed i) to ask Him and ii) what he asks to be in alignment with His will. Now, in addition to these, a third condition that is added here is faith. As the above passage tells us if a man is not asking God in faith he is not going to receive anything from Him. Now regarding the meaning of faith, the phrase “but let him ask in faith with no doubting” (James 1:6) puts faith and doubt in opposition. Thus, when we trust God we have faith and when we doubt Him we lack it. Faith therefore is the trust we have in God and by which we give Him the permission to act in our lives. The lack of faith does not minimize the power of God to help us. God has the same power either we have faith or not. Yet, whether we will permit Him to utilize His power in our lives depends on our trust towards Him. You do not open your door to someone if you do not trust him. Similarly, you do not permit God to get in and act if you do not trust Him, i.e. if you do not believe Him.

As Matthew 13:58 characteristically tells us, when Christ went to his own country, "he did not do many mighty works there BECAUSE OF THEIR UNBELIEF". Of course Christ was able to do the same works there as he did anywhere else. Yet the people of that area did not permit this, because of their unbelief.

Turning now to the magnitude of faith that is needed to receive from God, Matthew 17:20 makes clear that even the minutest believing is enough for the greatest things. Really there we read:

Matthew 17:20
"if you have faith AS A MUSTARD SEED, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there", and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you”

and Mark 11:24 also tells us:
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them”

According to Bullinger and Zodhiates the phrase "mustard seed” “is a proverbial phrase for the smallest particle4." Thus, according to Jesus, faith even as little as a mustard seed is enough to move mountains, and bring to pass whatever we ask from God IF (and here there is a very very big IF), as I John 5:14-15 tells us, what we ask is in alignment with the will of God. It is this latter condition that many times is not taken into account, and we worry why we do not receive “whatever things we ask when we pray”, though we may both pray and believe for them. However it is not enough to pray and believe for something. It is also needed what you pray and believe TO BE THE WILL OF GOD. If it is really the will of God then even as little believing as a mustard seed is enough to bring it to pass. If it is not however in alignment with the will of God, then even the greatest believing will cause nothing, at least from God's side. Therefore, the equation is not “believing = receiving” but “I believe WHAT I ALREADY KNOW THAT IS THE WILL OF GOD, and I receive it” Hence, faith is not a process by which I persuade myself that I am going to receive from God anything that may have come in my head. Instead it is my trust in Him, expressed by my acts through which I carry out what I ALREADY KNOW AS HIS WILL. Therefore, even if the Lord tells me that something is not His will and thus I should do nothing, if I really follow His instruction and do nothing, then I have believed Him. First therefore you have the Word, the will, of God (written or spoken) for something and THEN you believe it and act according to what it says.

6. Psalms 64:18

Finally, closing this article I would like to refer to one more reason which, according to the Bible, can make God silent to one's prayers. This is given in Psalms 64:18, where we read:

Psalms 64:18
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR."

As we can see the regard, the respect of iniquity by a man's heart makes God silent to his prayer. As Peter very characteristically told Simon the sorcerer:

Acts 8:21-22
"You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not RIGHT in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness.... "

God is interested in the HEART, for only there He can dwell. If a heart is not upright in His eyes but wicked, then it is certainly not an appropriate place for Him. As Proverbs 15:29 tells us:

Proverbs 15:29
"The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous"

Of course there are wicked and evil people out there. And the reason that I added this part is because some of them may sometime cross our way. Thus if someone tells you that He does not receive from the Lord, a possible reason (but not the only one) is because in his heart there may be iniquity and wickedness, and God does not hear such persons.

6. Conclusion

In this article we examined the topic of cares, as well as what the Word of God says about it. As we saw: God wants us to care for nothing but to cast all our cares upon Him through prayer. In addition to this, we also saw that there should be agreement between what we ask of God and His good, acceptable and perfect will. God does not have nor He gives second rate things to us. His will is perfect, and what He has for us is PERFECT too (James 1:17). To conclude therefore:

Proverbs 3:5-8
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones."


Anastasios Kioulachoglou




1. The word "care" in this passage is a translation of the Greek noun "merimna" the verb form of which ["merimnao"] is translated as "be anxious" in Philippians 4:4-7 (press here to return where you stopped).

2. The passage does not say "do not pray" but "DO NOT WORRY for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things". The teaching is against worries and not against prayer which in fact is what is suggested against worries (see Philippians 4:4-7, I Peter 5:7 and Matthew 7:7-11) (press here to return where you stopped).

3. It tells us for example that the gifts of God are good and perfect (James 1:17), that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), that the blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and he adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 9:22) etc. (press here to return where you stopped).

4. See E.W.Bulliinger: “A Critical Lexicon and concordance to the English and Greek New Testament”, Zondervan Publishing House, 1975, p. 513 και Spiros Zodhiates: “The Complete Word Study Dictionary”, AMG Publishers, 1993 p. 1290 (press here to return where you stopped).