Peace Through Prayer
By Rich Carmicheal
"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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).
These are days when many people are feeling significant pressures from life. Perhaps you are even now deeply concerned about health issues, finances, employment, your loved ones, the future, the church, your nation, or about special circumstances in your life. While there is a legitimate level of concern and responsibility we are to take as we face various issues, our concern can easily give way to worry that can dominate and distract us. Anxious thoughts can multiply within us (Psa. 94:19), shift our focus off of trust in God, and rob us of the fullness of joy and life that He intends for us.
Be Anxious for Nothing
Jesus teaches us that we gain nothing by worrying (Matt. 6:27), but are instead choked and stifled in spiritual growth by it (Luke 8:14; cf. 21:34). He told Martha that she was "worried and bothered by so many things," whereas Mary had chosen what was good (see Luke 10:38-42). "Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down…" (Prov. 12:25).
No wonder, then, that God admonishes us to "be anxious for nothing" (Phil. 4:6). He does not want us to be consumed by worry, but instead wants our lives to be filled with His peace – peace which surpasses all comprehension (4:7).
The Peace of God
One of the great characteristics of God’s peace is that we can have it inwardly, guarding our hearts and minds, even if we are in the midst of hard circumstances. Jesus warns us that in the world we will have tribulation, but He also promises us that in Him we can have peace, and that we can take courage because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Paul, even as he wrote about "the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension," was himself in prison, uncertain if he was going to live or die (Phil. 1:13, 21). And yet, he was able to testify of the peace of God (see 4:9-13). He was also able to promise that his readers could experience this peace even though they lived "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation" (2:15) and faced suffering and conflict (1:28-30).
Such peace is obviously supernatural – the peace "of God." Jesus had described it to His disciples when they were troubled by the news that He was going away: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27). The Lord is "the Lord of peace" and "the God of peace" who is able to continually grant His peace to us in every circumstance (2 Thes. 3:16; Rom. 16:20). He blesses us with peace (Psa. 29:11), He speaks peace (Psa. 85:8), He extends peace like a river (Isa. 66:12), He reveals an abundance of peace (Jer. 33:6), and He enables us to lie down and sleep in peace (Psa. 4:8). His peace is deep and abiding, and comes through the presence and ministry of His Spirit in our lives (John 16:7; Rom. 8:6; 14:17; Gal. 5:22).
In Everything by Prayer
The key to moving from anxiety to the peace of God is prayer: "…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6). Notice how all-inclusive prayer is to be: "in everything." We are to be anxious for nothing and to make our requests known to God in everything. Through prayer and supplication we worship the Lord and express our trust, confidence and dependence upon Him. In prayer we transfer the burden from ourselves onto the Lord, casting all of our anxiety upon Him, knowing that He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7; Psa. 55:22).
It is a sad truth that many of God’s people do not have what they need from the Lord because they do not ask (Jas. 4:2). Let not that be true of us! Our Heavenly Father is full of concern for us, and is eager to provide for our needs. Jesus teaches, "Ask, and it shall be given to you…" (Matt. 7:7). He goes on to say that if earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children, "…how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (v. 11). He knows exactly what we need even before we ask Him (Matt. 6:8).
As we seek the Lord and present our requests to Him, we are to pray "with thanksgiving" (Phil. 4:6). We honor the Lord and build our own faith as we give thanks to Him for His mighty works and glorious character, including His goodness and lovingkindness (Isa. 25:1; Psa. 118:1; 136:1ff.). In the midst of our struggles, we can thank Him that He is faithful to cause "all things to work together for good" in our lives (Rom. 8:28). And how our hearts can overflow with gratitude for His love toward us through Christ!
David reminds us of another important reason for thanksgiving: "For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well" (Psa. 139:13-14). The Lord created us, knows us intimately, and is able and faithful to fulfill all of His plans and purposes for our lives. He cares for us deeply and is gracious to hear our prayers: "I shall give thanks to Thee, for Thou hast answered me; and Thou hast become my salvation" (Psa. 118:21).
Let Your Requests Be Made Known
While we are to be very thankful for all that the Lord does for us, the primary focus of our prayers, as in all things, must not be our own agenda, but for the Lord’s glory and for His will to be done. Our prayers are to be marked by faith in Him (Matt. 21:22; Jas. 1:6), by obedience to His commandments (1 John 3:21-24), by earnestness (Col. 4:12; 1 Tim. 5:5) and by perseverance (Luke 18:1; Eph. 6:18). We are to ask in the name of Jesus, basing our prayers on His merit, on our union with Him, and in keeping with His Person and character (John 14:13-15; 15:7). We also are to rely on the help of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:27; Eph. 6:18).
When we come to the Lord accordingly, we can ask great things of Him, fully expecting answers to our prayers. We can pray for His kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10); for daily bread and forgiveness of sins (6:11-12); to not be led into temptation, but to be delivered from evil (6:13); for mercy and grace to help in the time of need (Heb. 4:16); for the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13); for healing (Jas. 5:14-16); for unity (John 17:21); for sanctification (John 17:17); for boldness (Acts 4:29); for the salvation of others (Rom. 10:1); for wisdom and enlightenment (Eph. 1:17ff; Jas. 1:5-6); and for firm standing in all the will of God (Col. 4:12).
The Apostle Paul certainly understood the privilege and potential of prayer. Consider, for example, the depth of this request: "…I bow my knees before the Father…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:14-19).
What if you prayed that prayer for your life and the Lord granted you the answer? Just imagine what it would mean to have your life filled with the power, love and life of God!
Our Great and Glorious God
Of course, the reason we can ask such great things in prayer is because of the One to whom we pray. We present our requests "to God." And in doing so, we are asking the help of the One who "is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think..." (Eph. 3:20). Not only does His peace surpass all comprehension, but so does everything else about Him. He has all of the grace we need (2 Cor. 12:9), all of the comfort and compassion (2 Cor. 1:3-4; Jas. 5:11); all of the encouragement and perseverance (Rom. 15:5), all of the power and strength (Eph. 1:19; Phil. 4:13), all of the protection and stability (1 Pet. 1:5; Jude 1:24), all of the sanctification (1 Thes. 5:23-24), all of the hope and joy (Rom. 15:13) and all of the wisdom we need (Jas. 1:5). He is indeed able to "supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus"! (Phil. 4:19).
So draw near to the Lord in prayer and fully entrust your life and circumstances to Him. Share your requests with Him, trusting Him to care for you and provide for all of your needs. Trust Him with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Give Him your cares, and receive from Him His peace.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way" (Psa. 139:23-24).
About This Issue…
This issue of Herald of His Coming focuses on prayer and intercession. As the Lord is faithful to work in your life, He desires to also work through your life to bless others. A great need today is for intercessors who come to God in prayer on behalf of other people, churches, communities and nations. The Herald staff hopes the accompanying messages encourage and equip you to that end. Christ Himself is the greatest Intercessor (Heb. 7:25), and He is faithful to work through the intercession of His people.
We Hope to Hear from You Soon!
Herald of His Coming
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