PHILIPPIANS 4:8-9: “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Is my prayer life marked with peace? When I am done praying, where do my thoughts lead? Do my thoughts support and encourage my faith, or do they begin unraveling the very thing I just prayed for?
Most of us are familiar with Philippians 4:4-7.
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 CSB
Yet, in this day of promise verse reading, many times we fail to read beyond these verses. We bring our worries and concerns before the Lord in prayer and petition. We give thanks to the Lord for hearing our prayer. We even walk in the peace of God that surpasses all understanding for a while. Then, when worry knocks at the door again, we begin to unravel our prayers by entertaining it once again.
What if God does not answer my prayer? What if the circumstances do not change? What if everything I am hoping for never becomes a reality? And so begins the downward spiral of thought that is defined in the book of James as double mindedness.
- “But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8 CSB
What is double mindedness? It is walking in disagreement between our hearts and our minds. In our heart we believe God. In our mind we begin to question His timing and faithfulness. We go back and forth like a see-saw. And as we do we begin to forfeit the promised peace that is the fruit of believing prayer. What is the answer?
- “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
We need to renew and discipline our minds. Our natural tendency is to drift back to worry and fear. It takes a concerted effort to walk in faith. This is not a call to works as a means of receiving from God. Rather, it is a call to begin to agree with God, to affirm HIs faithfulness, to grow in His wisdom and understanding. To think on things that agree with His nature, which is – honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent, and praiseworthy. And Paul does not just call us to think on these things. Paul calls us to dwell on these things.
How can we dwell on these things? When doubt, fear, and worry are knocking at the door of our mind, how do we walk in faith? There is only one way I have found that works. It is not possible to dwell on the things Paul outlines unless we are abiding in the Word of God. It is the Word of God that disciplines and renews our mind. As we abide in the Word of God we are abiding in Him. It is in God’s Word that we are daily reminded of His faithfulness and truth. As we dwell and meditate on these truths we are sustained in the peace of God that surpasses understanding. It is the only way!
Today, there is a battle for the mind of the believer. Every where we turn our worries and fears are encouraged and validated. There is only one place where we find faith and hope to stand against this tide. That place is the Word of God. Is it any wonder why the enemy of our souls does everything he can to keep us from abiding in the Word of God? If he can keep us out of the Word, he knows that we will soon abandon our prayers. Yet, if we abide in the Word of God, if we follow our prayers with the affirmation of faith in God’s nature and faithfulness, the enemy, our worry, and our fear are defeated!
Prayer, believing prayer, perseveres. It does not rest on the immediate change of our circumstances. It rests solely on the nature and promises of God. It finds its encouragement in the testimony of faith that is found page after page in the Word of God. It knows that God hears the prayer of the righteous and answers the prayer of faith. Believing prayer refuses to open the door to worry and fear, bolting the door with praise and the proclamation of truth. And, believing prayer ushers the child of God into His presence and peace.
Lord, forgive me for the times when I pray and then fail to dwell on Your faithfulness. When worry and fear knock on the door of my mind, help me to run to You, to renew my mind through Your Word, and to stand strong in faith as I await Your answer. As You grant me the grace to keep my mind stayed upon You, keep me in Your perfect peace.
In Jesus Name!