A sure fire way to get the most out of prayer. This can virtually be guaranteed a successful prayer life for you.
Pastor today had a wonderful sermon, but as often happens when we are going over scripture I find myself thinking of the application of that scripture in different frameworks. Some of my comments here were incidentally as covered by pastor’s sermon but what was leaping out from the scripture merited me writing this article below.
The root text of that sermon was from Philippians.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.
Prayer, maybe you do a lot of it, maybe just a bit or maybe not at all. The underlined portion of the scripture above is where I want to focus. That and prayer in general. If you have a prayer life then you already understand the power of prayer. If you don’t it would be my greatest joy if this helped you find a prayer life of your own.
As this is our starting point the common thing that you hear from people is that they are uncomfortable praying about what they may consider to be trivial matters. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The act of creation itself suggests that a relationship with human is at the core of the why we were created in the first place. God ‘wants’ to have a relationship with his creation.
There are many passages regarding prayer and we will talk about several but this one covers a lot of territory. Understanding the importance of consistent prayer in a healthy fellowship with the Lord is essential. If you don’t communicate with someone it is not likely that you can have a relationship of any substance. Since prayer is our means to communicate with the Lord then the more consistently we utilize prayer the closer that relationship is.
So, when this passage in Philippians says ‘In Everything’ means everything. And while, that statement may seem silly how much sillier is it to read this passage and gloss over the fact that this direction isn’t trivial and likewise nothing we pray about is trivial either. That doesn’t make prayer our short order service, but what it does do is make prayer something that we need to engage in on a more consistent fashion. I looked up the definition of the original word and everything means in that definition just what it does in English, it means everything.
Our first take away from this is:
Now, lets consider this phrase in context with the surrounding text.
Preceding this we are being told to be ‘anxious for nothing’ and since this is separated from the ‘in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanks let your request be made known to God’ with a ‘but’. So, letting God know your requests is a valuable alternative to enduring the anxiety of being anxious. Our third take away would be:
The last part of this passage provides us with the results of this sharing with the Lord; ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’.
Peace being the opposite of anxiety that is going to surpass not just ordinary understanding but ALL understanding, is going to guard your hearts (focus on the emotional) and minds (focus on the intellectual) through Christ Jesus. We are talking about a peace that is incomprehensible. What is not to appreciate in this outcome? That’s right, nothing! The fourth element of prayer we observe is:
The final thing that I want to pull out of this passage is the ‘how’ in this act of prayer; ‘with thanks’. Remember we are being told not to be anxious so this may seem counterintuitive to be thankful when conditions are such that they might make us fearful. However, consistently we are called to give thanks regardless of our circumstances. This is nothing less than to reinforce why we are praying.
Giving thanks does several things beyond simply establishing a line of communication.
Matthew 26:41 (NKJV)
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
This could be considered part of that establishment of a line of communication. Just as a child tends to behave better when their parent is observing them, if we are talking with God obviously He’s going to be focused on us and thereby our actions. In addition to the psychological incentive to do ‘right’ by God keeping us from caving in to temptation, God is also going to be there providing strength as well.
Luke 6:28 (NKJV)
bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
Because in doing so places them in the hands of God to deal with. Yet another form of dispelling anxiety. This makes your enemy God’s problem rather than yours. Try it, if you are in earnest you’ll find that it really works.
Romans 12:12 (NKJV)
rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
A consistency in your prayers. As we should be surrendering our vision of how God can do things in favor of simply turning it over to Him; the results of some of your prayers may not take place in an instant. Continuing steadfastly in prayer means you’re not going to dump something on God and then walk away from it. We should leave the issue with Him, but we also should be returning to him till we see a result. Trusting he is going to act, and having faith that regardless of the outcome, He has the better perspective and seeking His will always.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Surely, they are kidding, right? Wrong!
I like to think of this as conversational prayer. Not that our prayers are that casual always but if we consider that Jesus is with us constantly as His spirit lives within us then just as having someone in the room with you, the tendency to carry on a conversation with that other person.
Taking this attitude then it is a massive change to our approach to our Lord and how we look at everything throughout our day.
He is ‘there’ with you, talk with him! Through your day, anytime something comes to mind that you want to ask; ask. Anytime you are troubled; share it with the Lord. When you have a decision, you are faced with (especially where there are consequences); make sure you seek his advice before moving forward.
Just as praying that you not fall into temptation, if you are constantly mindful that he is with you, your much less likely to stumble and fall.
Romans 10:13 (NKJV)
For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you do not have a relationship with the creator. If you are winging it out there doing your own thing and seek a solution for the turmoil in your world. Jesus is a savior. His gift of salvation is only a prayer away. A prayer that confesses that we are sinners and asking Him for forgiveness sets us on the path of following Him.
This will mean a change in your life… the things you do… and it doesn’t mean your problems are going to disappear. But His Grace is sufficient … sufficient to save, sufficient to sustain, and sufficient to give you peace in a stormy world regardless of the trouble around you.
I guarantee it!