Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Anxiety, Prayer, Peace

Devotion: Philippians 4:5-7

As the Apostle Paul called the Philippians to unity in Christ through the settling of disagreement he thought it was a good opportunity for the Church to show its reasonableness in witness. As disagreements can often lead to explosive display of base emotions, so agreement should lead to a calming display of reason. What follows this idea is the reason that reasonableness should be on display in the church:
"Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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." -Philippians 4:5-7 ESV
The Philippians were to know that the Lord was near. This nearness could refer to time or space, but in the current context I lean toward the space understanding. When the Lord Jesus Christ draws near in Scripture to people who are afraid, anxious or worried, he brings peace. Indeed, in the upper room following his resurrection he repeats that he is giving peace twice (John 20:19-21), bringing the calm of his authentic presence into a tense situation.
So how do we practice the nearness of the Lord? The Apostle's short answer is prayer. We pray to our God let him know our need, giving thanks for His provision, and lifting up the needs of others. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Just today I was speaking with a man who was thankful for the prayers on his behalf from our congregation. He endured quite the ordeal in hospital for over two months, but he credited the prayers of the faithful for both the peace he had with the Lord and his survival. Prayer is the means by which God ordains to give us what He wills and this should bring peace.
Peace is exactly what the Apostle says is the consequential state of the Christian in prayer. This peace of the nearness of our God, even when it seems to defy all outside reason, is what we need to remain in Christ Jesus in both heart and mind. The peace of God that comes through prayer is like a guard that keeps secure in the presence of our God. Are you anxious today? Pray and let God set that guard of peace, holding you close to Jesus.

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