Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. (Philippians 4:6-7)
In every care, anxiety, and need of life, prayer with thanksgiving is the means that God has appointed for our obtaining freedom from all anxiety and the p ace of God that passes all understanding.
To many, this initially seems like the picture of a life that is beautiful but beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. This is not so at all. The verse tells us how this life’s peace is attainable by every child of God: “Be anxious for nothing”(verse 6). The remainder of the verse tells us how to do this. It is very simple: “But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
What could be plainer or more simple than that? Just keep in constant touch with God. When troubles or afflictions- great or small- occur, speak to Him about it, never forgetting to return thanks for what He has already done. What will the result be? “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (verse 7)
That is glorious, and it it as simple as it is glorious! Thank God, many are trying it. Do you know anyone who is always serene? Perhaps this person has a very temperamental nature. Nevertheless, when troubles, conflicts, opposition, and sorrow sweep around him, the peace of God that is beyond all understanding will keep his heart and his thoughts in Christ Jesus.
We all know people like that. How do they do it? By prayer, that is how. They know the deep peace of God, the unfathomable peace that surpasses all understanding, because they are men and women of much prayer.
Some of us let the hurry of our lives crowd prayer out; what a waste of time, energy, and emotion there is in this constant worry! One night of prayer will save us many nights of insomnia. Time spent in prayer is not wasted; it is time invested at a big interest.
Some years ago, I had a pastor friend who used to say, “Why worry when I can pray.” She went on to say that if you couldn’t sleep because of things troubling you, you could either use the time to fret over them or you could use the time to talk to God about them. This is the essence of Philippians 4:6-7. There is no ideal presented in the Bible that gives any impression that we can somehow live a life free of difficulty. As a matter of fact the Bible says just the opposite. Christ, Himself taught that while in this world, we would have tribulations or trials.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” (John 16:33)
You will notice that Jesus first says: “In me you may have perfect peace.” Our source AQof peace is resting in the grace and mercy of Christ. It comes from knowing that He is with us, that He loves us, that He is for us, and that in every situation, He is working it for our good. There is no idea that we must figure life out on our own or that we must handle it by ourselves. Instead the very opposite is true. We are invited to bring our cares and burdens to the very One who loved us enough to die for us. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus is telling us not to just trust in some religious exercise but to come to Him, especially through prayer. Many of us, as soon as we find out that there is trouble, will call a friend, a confidante, or some one we trust, and lay out the whole situation before them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this unless you neglect to bring it to God in prayer. As a matter of fact, it would be wise to find those who are people of prayer to unburden your heart to. Ask them to bring you and your cares to God in prayer. Whatever we do, let us not forget that Christ Himself has invited us to come to Him when we are burdened down with care and anxiety. He tells us that when we do do we will receive rest from Him. This rest is the peace in our hearts and the quiet in our souls.
Suppose you have a problem with your car as you are driving down the highway and it breaks down on you. We’ve all had those anxious moments when something like that occurs. You make the call to the shop and they send a tow truck. What a relief it is when you see the tow truck come in sight. This relief you feel is in a small way what Christ is offering us when we bring everything to Him in prayer. The car is still broke, but the fact that someone has come to our rescue gives great comfort. So it is with Christ. The peace that He offers is not when the crisis is over but peace in the crisis for when He shows up, we know everything will be alright.
Peter gives us wonderful instructions about what to do when life isn’t at its best:
“casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (1 Peter 5:7)
I love the word this verse uses- “casting.” It gives the impression of releasing them with emphasis, literally throwing them to the Lord. When I think about that word, I think of someone in the ocean, weighted down with things, throwing them away so they can float. When we “cast” our cares on Jesus and He takes the burden, our load becomes much lighter. That’s the invitation of Christ. It is not that we drop our problems or pretend they don’t exist. It’s not some pseudo-faith that expresses itself outwardly while we hide our fears and worries inwardly. It not the lack of concern and sometimes it is even doubt. It’s not that the battle with fear and anxiety isn’t happening. It is at every occasion, when fear strikes our heart, when doubt floods our soul, when anxiety grips our minds, we go again and again to Christ in prayer. We do this every time. We don’t try to manage on our own. It doesn’t matter about the time lapse. If we have come to Christ in prayer and received His peace and ten minutes later the anxiety comes again, we go back to Christ in prayer and pour our hearts to Him again and again until we find the peace that passes all understanding for the duration of the trial.
Josh Baldwin has written a song entitled “Stand In Your Love. In it he says, “My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your love.”
If life is a challenge and the crisis of it is eating your lunch, run to Jesus in prayer. Tell Him all about it. Remember to thank thank Him for all the past answers and blessings. Stand in the overwhelming presence of His love. Trust His promises and rely on His sufficient grace. And rest. Let your soul rest in the quiet confidence you have in God. Hear the words of 1 Peter 5:7: “for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully.]”
Dr. John Thompson