“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Because of the present pandemic, we need peace more than ever. The troubles we face – physical, financial, emotional – are beyond our control. We are prone to worry. What shall we do? The Bible wants us to realize these three things.
1. WORRY IS A SIN (“Do not be anxious about anything.”)
It is but human to feel worry and fear at the first instance when we encounter something dangerous or life-threatening, but to persist and to wallow in anxiety so that it gets the better of you is a sin because it is incompatible with faith (Rom. 14:23). Worry questions and doubts God’s faithfulness toward us and magnifies the objects of our fear. Worry trains our hearts in unbelief and negates the Bible’s testimony of God’s love and care for us (Lam. 3:22, 23).
2. PRAYER IS THE ANTIDOTE TO WORRY (“But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”)
Why worry when you can pray? Prayer is the antidote to worry because it connects us to the Father who cares for us and who delights to answer our prayers (1 Pet. 5:7; Matt. 7:7). But it must be done aright – with thanksgiving; otherwise, our prayers will serve merely to reinforce our bitterness or covetousness Personally, I am no fan of the kind of prayer that majors in complaints because it is often an exercise in resentment rather than in gratitude. It blames and doubts God instead of giving honor to him. On the other hand, to give thanks is to remember God’s faithfulness and goodness ((1 Thess. 5:18; Ps. 103:1-5), and if we can get our minds to focus on God’s goodness instead of on our circumstances, we have won more than half the battle against worry.
3. PEACE IS THE FRUIT (“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”)
It is interesting that Paul makes no mention of whether God will grant our requests when we pray in this manner to him. I think he takes it for granted that God will do so (Ps. 84:11; Luke 11:11-13), and if he does not, it is because he has something better for us (Heb. 11:39, 40). Sometimes God does not fulfill his promise because he plans to overfulfill it! In this sense, the answer to all our requests is already “Yes” even when he says “No” (2 Cor. 1:20).
In this regard, we are now in a position to understand that God’s peace is a far greater gift than any material blessing we can ask for. This peace is a supernatural sense of quietness in the heart which this world can neither give nor understand. The world’s peace is based on circumstances and therefore ebbs and flows depending on how our circumstances go. The Christian’s peace is in spite of circumstances; it is based on the unchanging faithfulness of God. The Christian who prays aright has his heart set on the giver more than the gifts, so much so that he is not troubled if the gifts do not come as long as he has the giver by his side (Ps. 73:25-26). It is more important to God that our hearts be drawn to him than that we receive the material blessings we ask for (Prov. 23:26). This might be one reason why God sometimes denies our requests. He knows that we have a tendency to cherish the gifts and forget the giver (Jer. 5:23, 24).
It is because the Lord is my shepherd that I will not be afraid of any lack (Ps. 23:1; Rom. 8:32). To have him is to have everything! He will make me lie down in green pastures; he will lead me beside the still waters. He will make me dwell in peace with him.