“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 4:6-7 NIV)
Paul beckons us to present with thanksgiving our requests to God. But he doesn’t say that by doing that those requests will be granted. The only thing Paul says we’re going to get for sure is the peace that comes from trusting that one’s desires are being heard. At that moment, whether they are eventually fulfilled isn’t the point.
And why is this holy peace called upon to guard our hearts and minds in the first place? We need only look back at the beginning of the passage. The anxiety Paul refers to, and that we all feel, is often the impetus for praying at all (at least for me). I worry, therefore I pray. Paul, and the savior he speaks on behalf of, knows that prayer contains multitudes more uses than that, but I think he gives us a pass here. He knows how hard it is to send requests to the stars without knowing if or when you’ll hear back.
Job hunters can sympathize well. When I click “Submit” on a job application, I have surrendered control over that process and am now at the mercy of someone else’s divine judgment. I worry my application for a job I’d be great at won’t even make it out of the résumé-infested swamp of the hiring manager’s inbox. I worry I’ll never stop hearing an assembly line of “no”s. I worry I’ll never get a great job again, that I’m doomed to endless days as a grocery store clerk or professional SimplyHired stalker.
But this peace offered by the Comforter is tailor-made for worriers of all kinds. No matter what compels someone to pray, God has the same reply: Message received. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.
Gives new meaning to “sleep in heavenly peace.”