Obedience and the peace of God

Published 1:00 pm Sunday, July 10, 2022

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 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 4:4-7 (NKJV)

“This passage has served to bring comfort to those who read it for thousands of years, and rightly so. It seems the perfect formula for receiving God’s blessings. Before we get all excited about having all our requests fulfilled, we should read the passage again, and again, if necessary. St. Paul does not say that all our requests will be granted. He says we will receive “the peace of God.”

How can this be, that we will receive peace from God without our requests being granted? We have just prayed for these requests with the expectation that God is going to provide them! If we have not received that for which we so fervently petitioned God, how is it possible to have peace as our answer? Some years ago there was a song entitled “God Has a Better Yes” (if not, there should have been). When we present our requests to God, He often has a better “yes” as His answer. Romans 8:26 tells us that we don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit fashions our requests so that they are in tune with God’s will. It is this working of the Holy Spirit to enrich our prayers that “surpasses all understanding,” and through His influence, we have received “the peace of God” even though our requests have been unanswered.

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Like much of Scripture, especially Paul’s writings, there is more to come on this matter of peace.In verse 9 Paul gives us the key to finding the “Peace of God” — “The things you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” To receive the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding,” you and I must follow the path of obedience that Paul teaches. We must emulate Paul, who followed Jesus. When this is our way of life we will come to know that the God of peace is with us. His “better yes” has become our peace.

Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired Methodist preacher.