In the previous two posts, we took heed to several of God’s commands and admonitions found in Philippians 4:4-7, which are related to the human struggle with anxiety. On Tuesday, we took note of every believer’s obligation to rejoice at all times (v. 4) and our calling to be people who are known for their gentleness (v. 5). Yesterday, we examined in detail the two-fold command to not be anxious about anything, but prayerful about everything. Today, let’s consider the promised result of this life of habitual prayer: inner peace.
As dependent children, we must make our specific requests known to God; we must verbalize our needs to Him while recognizing that confidence in prayer comes from Christ, not from ourselves (1 John 5:15). God knows our needs, but there are many times He will not meet them apart from prayer. He is absolutely sovereign, but in His sovereignty God has also ordained that some things not happen until we pray.
3 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PROMISED INNER PEACE
What will be the result of this kind of prayer? The peace of God will take control of our heart and mind, forcing anxious thoughts to leave and keeping new ones from entering in. This peace comes through prayer and has three characteristics.
- This inner peace is an indescribable calm. First, it is a calm that defies description, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension.” It cannot be fully understood. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Jesus offers an indescribable calm in place of our fears. Many times, as it is with me, this peace does not come until I seek out other believers to pray with. Brother or sister, if you battle anxiety you need to find a regular prayer partner or share your need with your small group. And brother or sister, if your spiritual friend struggles with anxiety then reach out to them for the purpose of coming alongside them to pray with them. One of the most devastating things I have ever encountered in my Christian life was when I asked several men to come pray with me on a regular basis, but not one of them thought it was important. This lack of biblical love led to deep disillusionment. The good that’s come out of my experience; however, is that I now regularly hear from others that my commitment to pray with them is a profound help to them. Friend, be a wise and good counselor. Pray, pray, pray with your spiritual friends who are struggling; make time for them.
- This inner peace protects emotional and mental stability. The second characteristic of this peace is that it protects emotional and mental stability. It “shall guard your hearts and your minds.” The word guard is a military word that paints a comforting picture. It refers to a garrison of soldiers on duty. When we pray, God dispatches a whole garrison of soldiers to surround our heart and protect it from anxious thoughts and worries, thus keeping them from disturbing our peace and; therefore, preserving our mental health. This reminds us of a wonderful promise in our older Testament: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
- This inner peace uniquely belongs to believers. The third characteristic of this peace is that it uniquely belongs to those who are “in Christ Jesus.” In other words, this indescribable calm cannot be experienced by the unsaved person because it is only found in Christ. Let me say it another way: If you are not at peace with God then you will never experience the peace of God. Being at peace with God means that you know in your heart that your sins have justly been dealt with on the Cross of Calvary and you are trusting in Jesus Christ as your crucified and risen Lord and Savior. He is the One who has made peace with God for you. He is your one and only Mediator. “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Are you at peace with God? If not, you will never experience the peace of God to overcome anxiety. This peace is in Christ. Turn to Him today in repentance and faith.
If you are already saved by Christ then rest in the peace that He has already provided. Remember His promise: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
3 KEY LESSONS
So what has the Holy Spirit taught us these past few days?
- First, we are commanded to rejoice. This joy is a choice of the mind and will. It is an affection of the heart that comes to those who are in Christ. Therefore, when we are walking in the Spirit we can overcome any fears we may have, and not allow our circumstances to control our emotions.
- Second, as followers of Christ we should be known for our gentleness and meekness. Being angry and hateful makes the gospel look ugly. Let us be sure our demeanor makes the gospel attractive.
- Finally, as we learn to cast all our cares upon God in prayer His peace will force anxiety out of our mind and heart, leaving no room to be consumed with worry. God-dependent prayer is a key element in the divine remedy for anxiety.
Go to Him in prayer and let Him send His peace to set up a guard around your heart that says to worry, “You are no longer allowed entrance. Do not disturb the peace.”
**This post is adapted from last Sunday’s sermon, which you may listen to here.