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Prayer and Peace – Philippians 4:6-7

14/06/2020

Prayer and Peace

Text. Philippians 4:6-7 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

In our last look at this passage, we learned that the genuine Christian, the man or woman whose name is written in the Book of Life, will have changed attitudes toward God and his neighbour,  for there will be a deep down joy, a calm that comes from knowing that our relationship with God is secure, based on the finished work of Christ on the cross for us, resting only on him, by faith alone.  Towards our neighbours we will be different too, with a generosity of spirit, a moderation in manner that all can see. 

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But how can we experience this deep inner joy, rejoicing in everything, if inside us, our minds are in turmoil? Paul gives the Philippians some very practical advice indeed.  Philippians 4:6-7.  

 

1 The Effective Remedy for Worry is Prayer.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 

Now we’ve been living through very worrying times.  Our news media stories have consisted of a litany of death and misery.

Anxiety is destructive.  It stops us from being effective for God, robs us of our joy, and destroys our mental and physical health.  Paul’s remedy for worry and anxiety is forthright and simple.  STOP DOING IT.  Jesus gave us a similar command in Matthew 6:25  So Paul says, Be anxious for nothing!  Instead he gives us some alternatives…

  • Pray.
    • Pray about EVERYTHING.  This is very specific.  Paul tells the Philippians to pray about everything.  Not just ‘spiritual’ things.  God simply wants me to talk to him, to pour out my heart to him, to talk to him about EVERYTHING.  There is no matter too insignificant, nothing too secular, that it cannot be brought before the Lord.  
    • Pray METHODICALLY. Paul mentions two distinct types of prayer here.  He talks about ‘prayer’ and ‘supplication.’  Not all prayers are the same, are they?  In the Lord’s prayer we are taught to be acknowledging God as our Father, to praise him for his heavenly status, to accept his sovereign will, – and yet to ask him for our daily bread.  Maybe Paul was thinking about this, for prayer consists of the adoration of our wonderful God, Creator and Saviour, confession of our sins and acceptance of his forgiveness, thanksgiving for his goodness and for answered prayer and supplication, praying not just for myself, but for others.
  • Be thankful. An attitude of simple thankfulness for what we have is very important; it is good to be content.  But our thankfulness must be properly directed.  Paul is speaking of thanksgiving to the God who has given us all things.  It is right to give thanks to God.
    Tell the Lord what is troubling you. let your requests be made known to God;  Of course he already knows.  He knows all about you, but Paul knows that God wants us to come to him, as a father wants his children to come to him, and to trust him to do what is best for them.

 

2 The Result of Prayerful Trust is Serenity.  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

So what is the opposite of worry?   True serenity is described here in this verse, as being the result of casting all our anxieties upon the Lord in prayer.   

  • Peace comes from God alone.  He is the only source of true peace. Remember that by nature our hearts are at war with God.  There’s a battle, a rebellion as we sinners defy God’s will, break his laws, reject his sovereignty over us.  There is no peace in such a troubled heart.  But Jesus broke down that wall of separation between God and sinners when he died at the cross.  Paul writes, In Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  God grants us his peace.  There is no other source.  Don’t search for peace in mystic religions, (’mindfulness’ – we’ll talk a little about that next week) or in meditation or in drugs or in experiences.  Real peace in only found in Jesus.
  • God’s peace cannot be either attained or understood by human reckoning.  How could you place a value on this peace?  It could never be estimated, never quantified, never counted, it is a priceless peace. It is truly beyond our comprehension. 1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. 
  • God’s peace protects us.  Sometimes, when we are worried and anxious, we are left into sin.  Particularly we sin by doubting God, by questioning whether he really cares about us, or whether he is really able to care for us.  We lose our trust in him.  So Paul reminds us here that is we are experiencing God’s peace in our lives, in our hearts, we will be guarded, protected.  God’s peace will keep us calm and sedate, will ease our troubled minds and satisfy our inner desires.    Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, Isaiah 26:3.

Now these Philippians are starting out along the Christian path, and life will be far from easy for them, there would be warring days ahead, that would tend to anxiety, for they lived in a world that was totally hostile to the Christian faith.  But they belonged to the Lord, their names were in His book, and they would have his inner joy, to see them through, and by simple heartfelt, sincere prayer to their heavenly father, they would know His peace in their heart, whatever the world throws at them.

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