by Rick Love
It’s hard to be good news people in a bad news world! Another school shooting. A suicide bomber. Partisan politics on steroids. The daily news can be a real peace-robber.
So we need to learn how to pray down the peace.
Prayer constitutes the hidden, behind-the-scenes work of peacemaking. It’s like a secret weapon, providing the power to wage peace. Prayer helps us embody the peace we seek to build.
“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
FIRST, we say “no” to our anxieties (did you notice that this is a command?). And we are not to worry about anything! Now that’s a challenge.
Before you worry about obeying this command (!), let me say a few things about the Greek word translated “anxious.” The Greek word is merimnao which is most often translated in the negative sense of worry or anxiety.
But it can have a positive sense of genuine concern. For example, in the very same letter to the Philippians Paul says this about Timothy: “I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern (merimnao) for your welfare” (Philippians 2:20 NIV).
It is right to be concerned about our family and friends, our neighbors and nation. But genuine concern can easily escalate into unheathly worry that keeps us from living in the present. Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles; it takes away today’s peace!
Anxiety keeps us preoccupied with ourselves and our problem and so we miss opportunities to love those people in front of us. We miss the opportunity to depend on God and sense His loving provision.
These anxious thoughts bombard our brains. Temptations are similar to birds flying overhead. We can’t keep them from flying overhead, but we can keep them from nesting on our heads.
Jesus kept temptation from nesting on his head by quoting Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11). When I feel stressed out I often quote Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace. With. God. This has an immediate calming effect on my soul. Because I have peace with God, I can handle the challenges I face and the anxieties I feel.
NEXT, we say “yes” to God by praying about the things that burden us. We turn our cares into prayers.
And in the midst of this, we thank God for the many ways He has blessed us in the past. We thank God that we can trust Him for the future.
When we are grateful we receive fresh perspective and our anxieties begin to melt away. The result? We experience “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Notice the scripture does not say peace with God but the peace of God! God’s peace – perfect serenity and inner tranquility. It’s a foretaste of the kingdom we are destined for. When we experience God’s peace we affirm what the old hymn says: “It is well with my soul!”
So if you’re anxious, turn to Philippians 4:6-7 for guidance on how to pray down the peace.