It is instructive, even frightening, how many people in the relatively peaceful and prosperous western world suffer from mental health issues. These include anxiety, excessive stress, and depression. Even those who claim to be believers and attend church are not exempted from these things. Of course, if the root cause of this malaise is spiritual, then the solution will be equally spiritually.
God offers a spiritual solution: it is peace - His peace - and available to any and all who will receive it. Once received, the mental health issues clear up, wholeness is gained, and joy returns. Like the ‘pearl of great price,’ God’s peace is worth everything to obtain and will not disappoint.
So far, we learned that the pre-requisite to peace is to recognise that it comes from Jesus. All the Lord asks is that before we receive peace, we make a decision to cooperate with His to refuse to let our heart be trouble or afraid (John 14:27).
The second thing we learned is to establish a beachhead of God’s peace, we have to be reconciled to God by the new birth. This comes by believing in the gospel of Christ: He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures. In other words, you can’t have God’s peace until you are willing to receive in your heart the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, as Saviour and Lord. When this happens, we are justified by faith (not by religious works) and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
God offers a ‘peace process.’ Unlike the worldly version, which comes in instalments and can be incomplete and temporal at best, God’s peace comes freely, fully and permanently. We can and should grow in God’s peace, as we do in God’s grace, glory, and faith.
The next step is important. God’s peace can be likened to a personal body guard. Any force that would try to harm you or cause you to fret and worry can be thwarted. This protective, prevailing peace will guard your mind - which can be a battle field of negative, anxious though. It will guard your heart, from which flow the issues of life. Prevailing peace means that no challenge will go unmet and no challenge will succeed - God’s peace will prevail against any and all attacks. When you are peaceful in heart and mind, nothing can rock your boat.
How do we obtain God’s protective, prevailing peace? We learn about it in Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV):
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
So here is the secret to growing in the prevailing, protective peace of God: it comes through prayer. Like the air we breath, prayer is indispensable for Christian life and growth. Without a lifestyle of prayer, you will become weak like any other man. Great people of God have said: A prayer less Christian is a powerless Christian.
If you have the desire to be a person of prayer, but find it difficult to get started, here are two things you can do. 1) Read about prayer: in the Bible and also Christian literature. There are plenty of books on the subject. More importantly, 2) Find an ‘on-fire’ prayer meeting, attend it regularly, and remain a part of it until you catch the fire!
Even before you pray, or at least when you pray, make sure you follow the first part of the advice: Be careful for nothing. Make a decision that you will not worry or fret about anything. This will require God’s grace, of course, but hand the burden to God, let Him do all the heavy lifting, and then proceed to pray.
Note Philippians 4 speaks of prayer (a broad term about seeking God in faith and utterance), supplication (where we make our requests to God), and thanksgiving. The latter is essential because, like people, God responds very well to an ‘attitude of gratitude’ (I Thessalonians 5:18).
In summary, hand your burdens to God, pray all kinds of prayers, give thanks to God in everything.
Years ago I wonderfully learned this lesson. Flying from my first ever visit to the Middle East, the airline gave me an obligatory stop in London - at my expense. Twenty-two years old, with little money, having been informed that ‘London is expensive’ and ‘all the hotel rooms are full,’ I contemplated sleeping on the seats at Heathrow Airport. In fact, on the plane I started to feel distressed and anxious. Then I remember Philippians 4:6-7. I wanted to shout it from the housetops, but that would not be appropriate in flight. So I found the one place that would afford me privacy - the lavatory on the plane - and confessed to the LORD: Heavenly Father, I claim the promise of Philippians 4:6-7. When I walk out of this place, I thank you that I will experience your protective, prevailing peace on my heart and mind. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Without exaggeration, once I opened the door, the peace of God descended upon me. The worry and fear were gone. Once I arrived in London, everything fell into place, I found a clean, quaint, and affordable hotel room for the night and my money stretched far enough to get me a London Indian curry!
God may or may not give you an immediate answer to your prayer. Yet, what you will receive - on the spot - is God’s peace in your heart and mind. His word guarantees it. It’s time to grow in the peace of God - through prayer.