The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 4:5-7, NIV).
Many years ago I started writing out my prayers. After I read the Bible, I write a prayer in response to what I’ve read. It’s a practice I highly recommend!
One day I read back through some of those prayers. To my amazement, I saw a recurring pattern: I would pray about a need, often in desperation, and a short time later, that need was provided. I prayed; God answered. But by the time the answer came, I was already concentrating on another concern. Thus I sometimes didn’t recognize the answer when it came. And I completely missed the pattern until I looked back.
I rediscovered what I was taught as a tiny child in Sunday School: God answers prayer. When I trust Him enough to bring Him my concerns, He responds. But as James says,
You do not have, because you do not ask God (James 4:2, NIV).
Read once again Philippians 4:5-7 above. I’ve found that these straightforward verses are beautifully true and abound with practical teaching about prayer.
The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5, NIV).
Remember, we are never out of God’s presence. Thus we can pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), turning to Him anytime, anywhere, as to a Friend right next to us. Prayer can be our constant and natural response to need, or to blessing, or to just realizing that God is with us.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6, NIV).
I’m weary of the “worry cycle” in my life: small problems arise (often the same ones over and over); they start to gnaw at me; then, little by little, they consume my thoughts, chewing up my energy, my joy, and my peace. To fight this cycle, the Lord has led me to vow:
1. I will present my concerns and needs to Him immediately before they start eating at me. I will bring them to Him every time they come to mind.
2. Right then I will thank and praise God for the answer He will bring in His own wisdom and time, even though I cannot yet perceive it.
Note that this matches the Scripture’s teaching. Try it. You’ll be surprised how comforting it is to face God person-to-person and trust Him with each concern.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, NIV).
The result is one of the warmest and most practical gifts possible: God’s peace. This peace is so deep, so all-encompassing that we cannot even imagine it enough to ask for it. And this peace will guard our hearts and minds, keeping them in Christ Jesus.
This is a wonderful way to live. But it only happens as we simply and consistently bring our concerns to our Father, the One who is always with us, waiting to help us.
Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you
(Psalm 55:22, NIV).