This is part 3 of 5 of the mini-series: Peace in a Pandemic.
4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Our previous post, Celebrate God, in this mini-series on Peace in a Pandemic closed with Psalm 73:25-28 where we read in verse 28, “as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge.” Refuge. Shelter. These are words that describe the place where we run and hide when danger arises.
In my younger years during the summer holidays I would coach at a soccer camp in Florida. One day, a typical hot and humid summer’s day, the clouds were rolling in and the sky began to darken. Then oddly enough the hair on the heads of the players began to rise to the sky. Then, in an instant, a bright flash accompanied by a deafening BANG sent the entire camp to the only refuge immediately available, the ground. In that moment no instructions were needed. No reminders were provided. There wasn't a text reminder or a newsletter email. Instinct took over. Everyone sought shelter, a refuge from the storm. If only we could learn to respond in the same way to our anxious by praying to God! The Psalmist wrote that he had made the Sovereign Lord his refuge. It was a decision. A pre-decision perhaps. What have you made your refuge? Where do you run and hide when times of trouble come?
Possessions? Jesus advises that “moths, vermin, and thieves”  will make quick work of your wealth, even more so once you are out of the way. And once your life is taken, “then who will get everything you worked for?” 
People? The Prophet Jeremiah cautions us that the people-reliant life (self included) is ultimately a cursed life—leaving us looking a lot like “…a bush in the wastelands…in a salt land where no one lives.”  According to the prophet relying on man’s ingenuity and strength will lead to a lonely and stunted life.
Pleasure? In the Parable of the Rich Fool Jesus cautions us against the not-actually-so-modern mantra of “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry!”  Reality will one day interrupt all the revelling and when that happens; where will you find refuge? Anything and everything that we try and find refuge in, except for the Sovereign Lord, will leave us wanting.
In our text from Philippians Paul commands us to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Through prayer, petition and thanksgiving we train our souls to find refuge in God. I love the way Paul contrasts anything and everything. As R. Rainy wrote: “The way to be anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything.”  Paul, as we’ve mentioned before, knew that life is fertile ground for anxiety and worry to grow. But he also knew that “prayer cures anxiety”. 
Paul's description of prayer is so robust as he groups three synonyms for prayer together: prayer, petition, requests. As H.A. Kent noted: “In this context, the three have the following meanings: “‘Prayer’ (προσευχῇ) denotes the petitioner’s attitude of mind as worshipful. ‘Petition’ (δεήσει) denotes prayers as expressions of need and ’Requests’ (αἰτήματα) refers to the things asked for.”  Of course all three are meant to be, in some sense, tempered by an attitude of gratitude as we express our thanksgiving for what we have as we express requests for what we do not have. This robust 3 fold prayer coupled with thanksgiving is a key step to gaining that heart and mind guarding peace that transcends all understanding.
“Remind yourself continually: it takes the same amount of energy to worry as to pray. One leads to peace, the other to panic. Choose wisely.” 
 The New International Version. (2011). (Matthew 6:19-20). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Lk 12:20). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
 The New International Version. (2011). (Jeremiah 17:6). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The New International Version. (2011). (Luke 12:19). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 R. Rainy cited by O’Brien, P. T. (1991). The Epistle to the Philippians: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 492). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
 Melick, R. R. (1991). Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Vol. 32, p. 149). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 H. A. Kent, “Philippians,” EBC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 11:152.
 Todd Wagner, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christians-anxious-coronavirus/