There is a verse in the Bible that is known by nearly everyone. It’s one of the most quotable verses in the Bible, mostly because it’s so encouraging: “The Lord is Near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation with prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6
When someone is struggling, this is one of the first verses that is quoted. It can seem almost frustrating, to know in your head that you are to have the peace of the Lord, but not to feel it. Trying to force yourself to feel the Lord’s peace sounds fairly counterproductive.
Of course, we all want peace that surpasses all understanding. The question is, how are we supposed to feel this peace when it seems like everything that can go wrong, is?
The thing is this verse is not a stand-alone verse in the Bible. It’s in the middle of a paragraph, connected to a couple of other sentences. The peace of the Lord is an effect. To find the cause, you have to back up a few sentences.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not 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: 4-7
There are five different actions to receive the peace of the Lord.
1) Rejoice in the Lord always
2) Let your gentleness be evident to all
3) Do not be anxious about anything
4) With prayer and petition present your requests to God
5) With thanksgiving present your requests to God
Then, and only then, will the peace that surpasses all understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Paul gives us a pretty great equation to seek and find this peace. Oftentimes, it seems like passively reading the words and promises of the Bible is supposed to provide you with these gifts. But we need to put in the effort, taking the time to receive the benefits. The Holy Spirit lives within you, make no mistake. But we have the gift of free will. And with that free will, we must exercise intentional relational habits with our Father in Heaven. It is then, and only then, that we begin to see the gifts in action.
by Sydney Shrimpton
Father God, thank you for this peace. Please lead me to meditate upon these things. Lead me to rejoicing in you, to remaining gentle and not anxious. Help me deliver my requests into your capable hands and increase my thanksgiving. Thank you for your gift of peace. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who will help me. Reveal these truths to me and help me live them out, oh Lord.