"In everything let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God shall guard your hearts."
Prayer is the pathway to peace. It is essential to
piety. It is as light to plants, fuel to fire, food to the body. If we were
to cease from prayer we would cease to live, for by prayer we are united to
the Source of Life.
The precept "Pray without ceasing" means, not that we are
always to be in the act of supplication, but habitually prayerful, so that
at no time it would be incongruous to express our desires to God. Prayer
should not resemble a solitary pillar on a level plain, but a cluster of
pines on a swelling hill. The whole of life should be elevated above the
world, and acts of prayer harmonious uprisings from what altogether soars
Affliction prompts us to pray for help, and this is one
of its chief uses. It is better to suffer and pray than to rejoice while
forgetting God. In everything we shall be saved from anxiety, if we bring
everything to our Father. Paul spoke from experience when he said, "In
nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of
God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your
thoughts in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6, 7).
Exposed to dangers on all sides—accidents, disease,
poverty, bereavement, death; with commercial or family responsibilities; the
trader with his liabilities; the father providing for his family; the mother
tenderly watching over her children—how can they avoid anxiety? The
indolent, the selfish, the frivolous may say they don't care; but the nobler
the nature the less the indifference to whatever involves the welfare of
others—of individuals, of the nation, of the Church. And should not every
one be anxious about his own soul, inquiring earnestly, "What must I do to
The remedy is in "prayer and supplication."
"Supplication" perhaps means the special petitions of prayer in general,
the prayer and the petition respecting the thing causing
anxiety. And such request is to be made known to, brought into the presence
of God, laid before Him as we would spread out a case to an earthly father,
expressing our feelings, and asking the special help needed.
Our heavenly Father knows it already, but desires that we
ourselves go to Him. He "pities" His children, and listens to them lovingly.
He knows that their telling the trouble relieves it. We are not to be
falsely humble, as though our troubles were too insignificant to bring
before His throne. Our anxieties arise from individual troubles, and so we
are to bring each individual care to God as it occurs—"in everything." We
speak of unburdening the mind to a friend. So by prayer to God we are
lightened of the anxiety we express. As He has all needful capacity to help
us in all things, not one thing should be omitted which causes us distress.
When John the Baptist was put to death, his disciples "went and told Jesus."
When Lazarus was sick unto death, the sisters sent and told Jesus. So let us
tell everything to Him—tell Him first, tell Him all; for He is ever near,
the "same Jesus."
Such prayer should be "with thanksgiving." Acknowledgment
of former answers encourages new petitions. "You have been my help,
leave me not, O God of my salvation." In the darkest gloom we have cause for
praise; not only for temporal mercies, but for spiritual grace—the
indwelling of the Spirit, fellowship with Christ, the Father's love, the
hope of glory. We should also thank Him for the expected answer to our
present prayer. "This is the boldness which we have toward Him, that, if we
ask anything according to His will, He hears us—and if we know that He hears
us, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of Him" (1 John
5:14, 15). We should also thank Him for Himself, in whom "all things are
ours." To "glorify Him for His great glory" will encourage us in every
prayer uttered in the garden of grief.
Anxiety is the hurricane which troubles the waters of
sorrow with contending waves and driving spray. Prayer rebukes the tempest,
and though the sorrow remains there is a great calm. Make the anxiety a
subject of prayer, then it will become a helpful means of grace. It has been
said that "care and prayer are as opposed as fire and water." Rather let us
use care as we use coals, and pile it as fuel on the fire of prayer, to make
it burn more brightly.
Then "the peace of God, which passes all understanding,
shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." By faith we
have peace with God—by prayer we enjoy the peace of God. We
have surrendered our will to His. We have committed ourselves to Him, and
all that concerns us. Why then be anxious?
This "peace of God" guards the "hearts and thoughts," the
fountain and its streams, the emotions and the ideas, the affections and the
will. It is said to "guard them;" the word is military, and is used in 2
Cor. 11:32—"In Damascus, the governor guarded the city;" and in 1 Peter
1:5—"Guarded through faith unto salvation." It is a peace, not of
sentimental luxury, but, like that of a garrison, keeping watch and ward
against a beleaguering foe. It is the best defense against disturbing
doubts. We have facts and arguments, testimony and criticism, with which to
do battle with unbelief on its own ground. But these weapons are not always
available. For all believers at all times "the peace of God" is a sure
protection. Personal experience is the best answer to theoretic objections.
Walls and battlements are important, but the garrison within forms the sure
defense. "One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see," was an
unanswerable reply to those who questioned the miracle. "I know whom I have
believed" is armor which no fiery dart from without can pierce—an
iron-plated ship, richly freighted, which laughs at pistol-shots.
This peace of God "passes all understanding." It is most
reasonable and yet cannot be understood merely by the intellect. It must be
experienced to be known. When known it surpasses all power of language to
express. It is "the secret of the Lord which is with those who fear Him."
This peace of God "guards the heart and thoughts in Christ Jesus."
Through His mediation we obtain it. By His Spirit it is imparted. "He is our
Peace;" and He says, "My peace I give unto you." Thus guarded we may rejoice
in full assurance of faith, whatever our grief and dangers. What can the
world offer to allure us from this fortress? How tasteless its dainties
to those who feed on the Bread of Life; how empty its honors compared
with those of the children of the King of kings; how weak its attractions
to those who dwell in His presence; how paltry its promises to those
who are "joint-heirs with Christ!" Shall we leave the castle over which the
royal standard floats to enter the rebel tents? Shall we exchange the food
of Heaven for poisoned banquets? Shall we exchange the music that entrances
the soul, for syren-songs that beguile to death? Carnal lusts may assail the
gate of the flesh, infidel doubts that of the intellect, unhallowed passion
that of the affections; but the peace of God will guard the citadel from
capture. A battery of earthly troubles may thunder round the believer, but
will not disturb, far less injure one who "dwells in the secret place of the
The chief solace in all sorrow must ever be the assured
presence and love of our heavenly Father. We cannot doubt the existence
of One with whom we are in habitual communion. Having this, let us rejoice
that all the events of our life are ordered by Him in love. "My times are in
Your hand;" not only because You are Ruler over all events, but because I
take my times and place them in Your hands with childlike reliance.
Therefore I will not be anxious either for what is present or what is
future. Thus may Your peace guard my soul as a garrison.