"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 heavenward.

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 be saved?"

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 Most High."

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.

My times are in Your hand!
 I know not what a day
Or fleeting hour may bring to me,
But I am safe while trusting Thee,
 Should all things fade away.
  All weakness I—On Him rely
 Who fixed the earth, and spread the sky.

My times are in Your hand!
 Pale poverty or wealth,
Corroding care or calm repose,
Spring's balmy breath or winter's snows,
 Sickness or buoyant health
 Whate'er betide—If God provide,
 'Tis best; I wish no lot beside.

My times are in Your hand!
 Many or few my days,
I leave with You—this only pray,
That by Your Grace, I, every day
 Devoting to Your praise,
 May ready be—To welcome Thee,
 Whene'er You com'st to set me free.
—Newman Hall

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