“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7
I suggested yesterday that Paul is telling the Christians in Philippi that giving everything to God in prayer will result in an experience of divine peace ONLY in the context of a prayerful life lived according to the things Paul had already written in the letter up to this point. Prayer is not a technology or a technique in which we try to get God to give us what we want. It’s not a matter of saying the right words or setting the proper mood or how many times you pray or how many people you get to pray with you or for you. Prayer, to Paul, is an attitude. It’s a manner of living. It’s a way of looking at God and the world that’s based on a real relationship with Christ Jesus.
So, yes, prayer results in peace, assuming you are still shocked by your salvation (yesterday) and confident of God’s care (today).
At the very beginning of the letter, Paul says he is confident that this good thing God has started in you, he will finish. He will see it through (1:6). God is working in you, he says, he’s working through you to make sure it happens (2:13). Paul’s in chains, but that’s causing more and more people to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly (1:14). Whatever’s happening to me, Paul writes, will turn out in the end to be for my deliverance (1:19). I am confident, Paul asserts, that I myself will be able to see you soon (2:24).
This isn’t a superficial obliviousness that ignores reality. Paul’s not whistling past the graveyard. He really does trust in the love of God that saves him and the love of God that is taking care of him and protecting him. All of Paul’s circumstances are in God’s hands. God is fully sovereign and totally in control of everything that’s happening to Paul. And Paul’s great with that because he knows that God loves him.
Of course, Paul got this from the example of Jesus.
Peter had the same idea. “When they hurled their insults at Christ Jesus, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to God” (1 Peter 2:23).
Peter’s got it. And Paul’s got it. And they both got it from Jesus.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) sounds a lot like “Do not be anxious about anything… present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6).
I would encourage you today to give to God in prayer that one thing that’s eating you up. It’s keeping you awake at night and distracting you during the day and totally stressing you out all the time. It’s that thing that’s just hanging over you. Give it to God in prayer right now. Don’t ask God to fix it. Don’t ask him to make it better or solve it or make it go away. Just give it to God and tell him you trust him. Tell him you know he’s in control and you’re good with that. Because you’re confident that he loves you and that he cares for you.