“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
Prayer is not a technique. It’s not a formula. Prayer is not a technology which we use to get a force or a “higher power” to do what we want. When Paul talks about prayer, he’s talking about a prayerful understanding, a prayer attitude, a particular way of looking at life. Paul wants the Christians in Philippi to have a prayerful relationship with God based on everything he’s written in the letter up to this point.
In order for prayer to result in peace, Paul expects Christians to be still blown away by their salvation.
I think the fact that we are saved by the amazing grace of a merciful God should startle us every single day. The fact that a holy and righteous Creator sacrificed everything in order to save a wretched sinner like me — it should overwhelm me every couple of hours or so. Several times a day, I think, I should be shocked by it all over again. My salvation is impossible; yet it’s real! My salvation is beyond comprehension; it’s a miracle!
And Paul is careful to remind the disciples in Philippi they can’t ever forget it.
He starts the letter by reminding us that God is bringing this wonderful miracle of salvation to completion (1:6). We are pure and blameless, he says, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus (1:10-11). In chapter two, Paul points out again just what Jesus did for us. He gave up everything! All this grand, sweeping poetry about the sacrifice of our Lord who, he says, is right now working inside us according to his wonderful purposes (2:13). Then we’re told that our righteousness is not our own — we don’t have any righteousness — all of it comes from God (3:9). It’s an outrageous gift from our God!
We are beloved children of that merciful God. We are chosen subjects of that glorious Lord. And we are privileged citizens of that heavenly Kingdom…
“And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” ~Philippians 3:20-21
You are in the Lord, Paul says. You are in Christ. And don’t you ever forget that you never did one crying thing to deserve it.
Every now and then, we might think that we’re better than other people. Sometimes, we might even think we don’t need nearly as much of God’s mercy as somebody else. Prayer will not result in peace unless we are still shocked by our salvation and driven daily to new levels of humility and gratitude to God because of it.