Getting from Anxiety to Indescribable Peace
December 27, 2018
By Dr. J. Vernon McGee
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. -Philippians 4:6-7
Read those two verses again. In other words: Worry about nothing; pray about everything. This is a direct commandment, not a suggestion. Most of us will admit to our shame that we worry. We know the Bible says it’s wrong, even sinful, but we still do it. Here’s our opportunity to change our ways. Instead of worrying, let’s pray about everything. And the result? Peace.
Scripture speaks of many kinds of peace. Someday we will have world peace through the person of Christ, the Prince of Peace. Also someday, peace will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). Today we can have the peace from the forgiveness of sins (Romans 5:1). We can also know the peace that feels like tranquility (John 14:27). That is a marvelous peace.
But none of these are the peace mentioned here in Philippians 4:7. This peace can’t be described. It “surpasses all understanding.” This is a peace that sweeps over our souls while we are in the troubles and trials of life. This peace gives us confidence, irrespective of the circumstances. We have confidence that things are going to work out for our own good and His glory.
This same peace enables us to face life full on, stand on the wide deck of life, and know it makes no difference how hard the winds blow or how high the waves roll. For this peace “will guard [our] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
This peace “guards” our hearts and minds. This peace of God is like a sentinel on duty around our hearts and minds, protecting and keeping us in life’s most worrisome trials.
Have you noticed what’s happened? We entered this passage with anxiety and worry. We come out now in peace. Between the two is prayer.
Have things changed? No, the problem is still there. The storm still rages, the waves still roll high, the thunder still resounds—nothing has changed outside, but the one who is praying has changed. Something has happened to our soul, moving us from a place of worry to a place where God’s peace now controls our heart and life.
I’m convinced that the primary purpose of prayer is not to change things but to change us. We think prayer is a faucet we can turn on to get out of it anything we want. Or it’s a magical, mystical hocus pocus to make our problems disappear. That’s not prayer!
Prayer is when we go to our heavenly Father, tell Him everything, and then let Him take over. Once we take our hands off, He begins to move—not necessarily on the things outside, but inside our private hearts and lives. Sometimes He puts the wheel back on the wagon and makes it better, but sometimes He doesn’t. The thing He’s concerned about is changing our hearts.
Oh, this is the treasure of real prayer that He invites you into today! Real prayer changes your heart. It brings your thinking, your will, your plan, and your purposes into alignment with the will of God. Prayer does that!
Most of us stand on the fringe of prayer. We never really enter in. We never come as a child with absolute simplicity and absolute faith to a Father, knowing He will hear and answer us in the best way possible.
Say to Him, “Lord, I believe; please help my unbelief. Help me to enjoy that wonderful intimacy with You in prayer. Help me to enter into the glorious privilege of talking to You, an omnipotent, omniscient Father who knows what is best for me.”
When you pray like that, my friend, not only will He hear you, but He will rush to help You, to guard You with perfect peace that no one understands. Why not talk to Him right now?
Read more in our booklet by Dr. McGee, "How to Have Peace in Anxious Times." Download yours now here.
Strong Words from Scripture about Worry
- Worry doesn’t work, so choose not to do it— Matthew 6:25-34
- Focus on the solution, not the problem— Matthew 14:22-33
- Give God your worry in advance— 1 Peter 5:7
- Center your thoughts on God, not on worry— Isaiah 26:3
- Replace fretting with trust— Psalm 37
- Stop worrying and start praying— Psalm 34:1-4; Philippians 4:6-9
- Direct your energy toward your true source of hope— Psalm 9:9, 10; Romans 5:3-5
When you are anxious, do these three things:
- Talk to your Father in PRAYER. First thing to do when you feel anxious—worship God. Talk with Him with a sense of fellowship and awe.
- Tell Him your REQUESTS. Tell Him what you need. He cares about the smallest thing.
- Go with GRATITUDE. Thank Him for hearing you. Thank Him for how He’s cared for you in the past and for how He will again.
Believe God’s promise that He will give you an unexplainable peace to guard both your heart and your mind—acting like a company of soldiers to protect and defend you.