“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)
Remember the line in the movie, “Forrest Gump,” when Forrest is sitting on the bench with the lady sharing the highs and lows of his life story, and he says, “Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get?” It makes me think of when Dad would buy one of those big off-brand boxes of assorted chocolate candies at Christmastime, and my brother and I would raid it. I remember one time we got in trouble because Mom discovered that every piece of candy in the box had a thumb indent in the bottom, where we’d pushed the chocolate in to make sure we weren’t choosing one of those icky pink, green, or beige-colored centers! Well, after that, I became an expert at “divining” the caramel centers from the others—just by looking at them! I could clear out all the caramels in one fell swoop! Haha!
When we examine the above Scripture, it doesn’t read, “Ask God and He’ll say ‘yes’ to everything you request.” No, it quite specifically lays a foundation for the prayer protocol. There is a right way to bring our requests to Him. But that next passage shows the guaranteed, sweet, “chewy” center hidden in the piece of chocolate: PEACE…heart and mind-guarding peace. I’m talking about a trusting, resting, courageous peace no matter what His actual answer to the request. In one sense, peace IS our answer. In fact, it may be the most important part.
In prayer, we can’t see the exact end result as we’re asking, but that’s where faith in His promises kicks in. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God, so when we ask, we really need to know what His Word says about the particular need (or want) we’re addressing. When we know the Word, we can then come to His throne equipped with what He’s already agreed to do. As mature believers, we also need to come to the understanding that, when we ask for His intervention, we likewise surrender the steering wheel to His hands. We may not get exactly what we want when we want it (and thank heavens that sometimes we don’t! Oh, the foolish things I’ve asked for in my life!) , but our faith must lie in the truth that His answer to our prayer will be/is the RIGHT answer, not just what we’ve tried to orchestrate in our mortal minds. Oh, there are those times when the outcome is exactly the way we’ve imagined, or it turns out exactly as prophetic word over your situation indicated it would be, but not usually. His answer will never violate His Word, rightly divided and taken in context, but it may still vary from our actual expected outcome. Knowing His goodness makes this not a scary or bad thing.
But let’s go revisit the answer to the prayers. Sometimes the answer is, “No.” Many times it’s, “Yes.” Or, “Wait.” Or, “I have a better plan.” Sometimes the answer doesn’t come right away, and sometimes we may feel it never came at all. But a prayer brought to Him in faith, in the way He’s instructed us to approach Him, is never disregarded or unheard. Only when we consider His immeasurable love for us and His infinite wisdom do we realize that, no matter His answer, it will be the very best path for our good. The God Who sees the end from the beginning, Whose vantage point is certainly better than our own finite fields of vision, will not only give the right answer, but Romans 8:28 assures us that He’ll work all things together for our good—yes, even those things which aren’t in themselves “good.”
We all know that His answers to our requests vary according to His will and wisdom, but we may not understand the “why” behind them all. Still, it changes the attitude and anticipation (and in my opinion, amps up our level of faith in the outcome), when, having made our request, we then deliberately receive His peace. Remember, that peace guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It lessens the pain of uncertainty while we’re in the waiting place, and it drowns out the voice of the enemy who would try to tell you that God will not answer your prayer, or that He’s playing roulette with your feelings.
Now, there are those times when the brake pedal fails, or something else sudden just causes us to cry out a desperate, “JESUS!” He hears those one-word prayers too, and answers; but I challenge you, the next time you come to the Lord with your thought-out request, do what that passage suggests. Come in the manner He’s instructed, but then after you have quoted back to Him what His Word says about your particular situation, give Him thanks. And then, RECEIVE HIS PEACE. The conclusion of your prayer might go something like this:
“Heavenly Father, I have come to you with my needs and desires, and I have spoken back to You what Your Word says about my situation. Now, I receive Your answer in faith—faith that all the fine details will be worked out in the way YOU know will be best. I trust You to order my steps, and in asking for Your intervention, I also surrender to Your final authority in this matter. I trust You completely, and I believe that Your wisdom and love for me assures the very best answer to my prayer. You have an awesome plan for my life! As I wait for Your intervention, I now take upon me Your peace, which goes far above my understanding, and I allow it to guard my heart and mind while patience has her perfect work…and while You operate on Your divine timetable. I am whole and entire, wanting for nothing. Thank you for that peace, which I receive in Jesus’ name. Amen”
©2012 Lisa Crum