What Everyone is Looking for – Inner Peace
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It is so easy to be overwhelmed by our circumstances: loss of a loved one; physical injury/illness incapacitates us; financial loss looms in our immediate future, etc. The natural tendency of man is to worry and be anxious. Jesus tells us that we have no reason to be anxious:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The Priority of Prayer
James tells us something else about our inner state of unrest:
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
It is very important to recognize that we can ask God for ANYTHING. But when we ask God, we should ask with the right motives. God may very well say no to the Ferrari, the 50 room castle on the 3000 acres of land, and winning the lottery. God is NOT a cosmic vending machine, where you put in a prayer and out pops the appropriate blessing.
Additionally, we have a tendency to ask, and, when it is given to us, to quickly forget the giver as we enjoy the gift. We should always remember that every good giving and every perfect gift is from God, and thank God in contentment for it.
The Power of Peace
When we follow God’s prescription, we will receive His blessing – Inner Peace. This is a peace that transcends all understanding. When we know that we should be unsettled, God settles our hearts with His comfort – and then peace, rather then worry, controls our emotions. It is as if we are embraced with His arms, as he wards off all attackers, safe in His care. It is this peace that allowed Stephen to cry out to God for forgiveness of his attackers as he was being stoned to death. It was this peace that helped the early Christians endure martyrdom when Nero had them impaled, covered with pitch, and set on fire in his gardens. It was this peace that allowed the Apostle Peter to ask to be crucified upside-down because he said that he wasn’t worthy of being crucified in the same manner as his Savior. It is this same peace that can calm the emotional storms in our lives when we seek God in our times of distress.
The Qualifying Question
So, let’s ask the question: Do we first go to God in prayer, or do we first worry in anxiety when our lives are turned upside down?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have shown us that You desire us to come to You when we are in need. You know all of our needs, and when we pray, have prepared an answer in advance for us. Your care for us is great; yet we are like sheep, and easily frightened by the least little thing. Help me this day, Lord God, to better trust you in my circumstances, for Your very name, YHWH, describes Your character – as He who exists and is dynamically involved in my life. Help me to remember that You are sovereign. Grant me peace in my dire circumstances as well as the trivial ones, for nothing in my life is trivial to You. Guard my heart, and surround me with Your presence through these things. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.