We discover in the New Testament Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi. It is a friendly letter written from Paul to a church he deeply loved. Some have called Philippians Paul’s most upbeat letter mentioning joy and rejoicing sixteen times. This is fascinating, considering that Paul is writing from prison. Paul challenges Christian’s, while he is in chains, to: “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). The whole of the letter could be summed up that when we live in the joy of the Lord, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).
Specifically, Paul writes:
“Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).
Paul writes to prevent the believer from worry because he does not want them to suffer the negative consequences of worrying. Perhaps, he is reflecting on Jesus’ own counsel (see: Matt 6:25-34). The source of worrying comes from doubting God’s ability to help. Think of it this way. When we worry, we perceive a future without God present and working. Instead, Paul counsels us to tell God our needs.
The believer is to pray with an attitude of worship to the Lord. Practically when we begin to worry, we need to find time to worship God. It’s important to be reminded of and affirm the Lord’s greatness. We need to proclaim God’s limitless power and love. God is big enough to deal with our problems, and He cares enough to do so.
Not only do we come to the Lord with an attitude of worship, but we do so openly sharing our needs. If we truly believe God cares and desires for us to present our needs to Him, we will do so with spiritual intensity, praying as Jesus did, “God’s will be done” (Matt 26:39). We can pray such a prayer when we believe God is capable and willing to act lovingly and faultlessly for His glory, our blessing, and the benefit of others.
Not only do we come to the Lord with an attitude of worship, openly sharing our needs, but also with thanksgiving. We are to thank God for past blessings. When we look at how the Lord has worked in the past, with thankfulness, we are empowered by the Spirit to face the future with thankful anticipation. We can pray, believing God is on the scene while walking confidently into God’s preferred future for us.
Such prayer and thankfulness open the floodgates for God’s peace to wash over us. The Lord’s peace will “guard our hearts and our minds.” Paul is borrowing from a military term presenting the picture of a squad of soldiers guarding a town. We are to understand that God’s peace will stand guard over our hearts and minds.
For years I looked to Philippians 4:6-7 to find peace, and one day the word thanksgiving just jumped out at me. I had read and recited it before, but I received this passage with a heightened understanding of the importance of thanksgiving. God’s peace and joy are ignited in the heart of a believer who is quick to recognize God’s workings (past, present, and future) with thankfulness. God’s desire for each of us is to be filled with His joy and peace. This becomes a reality, in part, as we rejoice in the Lord, with thankfulness, for who He is, as well as what He has done and is doing.
It is my privilege to rejoice in the Lord with each of you. Let us encourage one another to pray with an attitude of worship, openly sharing our needs with thanksgiving. Genuine prayer with thanksgiving lead to peace and joy filling and flowing from our lives. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!