Peace Through Fervent Prayer

Peace through Fervent Prayer

By Paul R. Blake

            “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” (Phil. 4:6-7).

            Prayer is an essential power in a Christian’s life (Phil. 4:4-7; 1Thes. 5:17; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18). It is no wonder that Paul emphasizes this point to the Philippians; he knew the good of it in his own life. He certainly had much to be anxious about, and yet he writes with a powerful confidence in God coupled with a quiet resolution to be at peace. Prayer gave Paul the power to live in this manner.

            Paul only considers two elements essential to acceptable prayer in his address to the Philippians: petitions and thanksgiving. This certainly does not exclude the other aspects of authorized prayer, such as: praise to God (Matt. 6:9; Psalm 8), confession of sins to God (1John 1:9), appealing to the Father through Jesus the Mediator (1Tim. 2:5). Instead, Paul notes the two elements of prayer that facilitate his instructions on relieving anxiety: making requests and appeals for help to God, and thanking Him for His bountiful answers to prayers in the past. Just as it exhibits a lack of trust in God to fail to petition Him for blessings, so it manifests a lack of gratitude to fail to thank Him for His generosity. Man's highest privilege is to listen to God; his second highest privilege is to talk to Him. A man of faith has confidence that he will be answered by the Most Powerful Being this universe has ever known (Matt. 18:19; James 1:6-7, 5:16-18).

            “Be anxious for nothing.” Cannot God, who has blessed His children with the greater blessings of an eternal spiritual nature, also give the lesser blessings of a temporary earthly nature? Paul does not mean that one is to exercise no care about worldly matters: no effort to preserve personal property, or to provide for one’s family (1Tim. 5:8), but that he has such strong confidence in God as to purposefully free his mind from anxiety and debilitating fear, as well as such a well-developed sense of dependence on God so as to keep mentally and emotionally calm in the middle of chaos.

            Paul offers prayer and supplication as the solution to the problem of anxiety. It has often been said that prayers are offered for others and supplications are made for one’s self. The word rendered supplication seems to be a stronger term in this context than prayer (or requests). It is a form of prayer that comes from a deeply felt sense of need and personal helplessness and vulnerability. When a mother has done all she can for a sick child, she wishes earnestly that she could do more and realizes helplessly that she cannot. She knows that the matter must be placed in the hands of One who has all power to impose His will in the matter. Such prayer from the deepest recesses of the heart pleads the promise of God to be near and help His children in their dark hours. It becomes an expression of confidence that God will take care of it; it is not a desperate plea of hopelessness of one who has tried everything else and failed.

            No confidence that a man can have in his own ability, no reliance that he can impose on his own plans, nor on the promises or loyalty of his fellow-men, and no calculations which he can make on the future, can give him such peace of mind as sincere trust in God. Paul wanted the Philippians to understand, that by making their requests known to God, and going to Him to talk of all of their trials and needs, their minds would be preserved from the despair of anxiety. The way to find peace and to have the heart kept from trouble is to go before the Lord with the problem (Isa. 26:3-4). “Keep” is a military term meaning that the mind would be guarded as an army camp or fort is protected. It would be preserved from the infiltration of dangerous fears and unnecessary alarms.

            In order to have a realistic confidence that one’s prayers will be answered, he must meet the conditions of acceptable prayer. The conditions of acceptable prayer are not meant to be hardships (1John 5:14-15).

            1) Prayer must be learned (Luke 11:1).

            2) Prayer must be offered in faith (James 1:5-8; Matt. 21:22).

            3) Prayer must be offered with the right motive in mind (James 4:3; 1Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17).

            4) Prayer must be offered according to God's will (1John 5:14; Prov. 28:9).

            5) Prayer must be offered in the name of Christ (John 14:13-14).

            The answer to fervent prayers and supplications might not always be in the affirmative, nor might it necessarily be what the petitioner expected; it might be “wait a little while” (Rev. 6:10-11), or it might even be no (Matt. 26:39; Gen. 18:24-25). But who is better qualified to know our needs and to supply our wants? (Psalm 55:16-17; 116:1)

Test Your Bible Knowledge of Kings

1. I began life as a donkey herdsman.

2. I pouted in my bedroom because I could not have Naboth’s vineyard.

3. I played music for the king who reigned before me.

4. I instituted reforms in Judah, the likes of which had not been seen since the days of Samuel.

5. I prayed once, and God sent Sennacherib the invader home; I prayed a second time and was healed of a deadly disease.

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