Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Be careful for nothing
This must be understood not in the most extensive sense, but with a limitation and restriction. There are many things that saints are to be careful for, as men and Christians; they are to be careful of their bodies, as well as of their souls; of the health of them, which is to be preserved by all lawful means, and not exposed to unnecessary danger; and for their families, to provide things honest for them, proper food and raiment, and the necessaries of life; for whoever does not do that, denies the faith, and is worse than an infidel; and even for the things of this world in a moderate way, using all diligence and industry in obtaining them; men ought to be careful to discharge the duties of their calling in civil life, and to care and concern themselves for the honour of God, the interest of religion, and the support of the Gospel; and that they offend not God, by sinning against him: but the carefulness the apostle speaks of, is an anxious solicitude for worldly things, an immoderate concern for the things of life, arising from diffidence, or negligence, of the power, providence, and faithfulness of God: saints should not be anxiously, or in a distressing manner concerned for the things of this world, but be content, whether they have less or more; nor be over much pressed with what befalls them, but should cast their care upon the Lord, and carry every case to him, and leave it there:
but in everything.
The Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it, “in every time”: always, constantly, every day, as often as there is opportunity, and need requires. The Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions join it with the following clause, “in every prayer and supplication”; but the grammatical construction of the words will not admit of such a version; it is best to understand it of every thing, or case, which should be brought to God; whether it be of a temporal or spiritual kind, relating to body or soul, to ourselves or others, to our families, relations, and acquaintance, the church, or the world:
by prayer and supplication:
which may include all sorts of prayer, mental or vocal, private or public, ordinary or extraordinary, and every part of prayer: prayer may design petition, or asking for good things that are wanted; and “supplication”, a deprecating of evils that are feared; though these two are often used together for the same thing, for prayer in general:
which ought always to be accompanied with thanksgiving;
for mercies received; for a man can never come to the throne of grace, to ask for grace and mercy, but he has mercies to bless God for, and so to do is very acceptable to God; nor can a person expect to succeed in the enjoyment of future mercies, when he is not thankful for past and present ones: in this manner therefore, at all times, upon every occasion, in a way of humble petition and supplication, joined with thankfulness for all favours,
let your requests be made known to God;
not to men; fly not to an arm of flesh, but to God, to him only, and that in the most private mariner, as not to be known by men; and put up such requests, as there may be reason to hope and believe God will “know” and approve of; such as are agreeable to his will, to the covenant of his grace, and the declaration of his word: use familiarity with God, tell him as you would do a friend, freely and fully, all your case, pour out your souls and your complaints before him. This God would have his people do, and he expects it from them; and though he knows all their wants, and what are their desires before they express them, yet he will seem not to know them, or take any notice of them, until they open them to him in some way or other; either by vocal prayer, or mental; by ejaculations, or sighs and groans, by chattering as a crane or a swallow, all which he understands: and be the case made known in what way or manner soever, with ever so much weakness, so be it, it is made known, it is enough, it shall be regarded and not despised.
John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible