Finding Peace in the War Cry of Prayer
“Prayer is the struggling speech of the believing infant, the war cry of the fighting believer, and the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in the arms of Jesus. It is the breath, the password, the comfort, the strength and the privilege of a Christian. So if you are a child of God, you will seek your Father’s face and live in your Father’s love. Pray that this year you will be holy, humble, devoted and diligent; that you will have a closer communion with Christ, often entering the banquet room of His love. Pray that you will be an example and a blessing to others, and that you will live more and more for the glory of your Master.”
This was written by Charles Spurgeon, the iconic British preacher, in 1865 and is featured in his Morning By Morning Devotional. The prayer overwhelms me because it’s so personal—but it also comforts me— and it speaks to the monumental struggles of past and present, the devastating circumstances of life we all encounter, the wounded hearts of treasured friends, and to the under-resourced families I’ve come to love in foreign lands who live with the hope (and not the means) that they will find food, water, and medical care when the sun rises!
Spurgeon’s prayer evokes powerful emotions from the believing infant, the dying saint, and the child of God . . . but what is its true source in Scripture? Unquestionably, there are many passages we could reference in the Old and New Testament, but none better than Philippians 4:4-7. Listen to what the Apostle Paul tells us.
First he brings us encouragement – yes, even elevated to a command! “Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again, Rejoice! The Lord is near,” (v4-5). That’s our grounding in a personal and Eternal God.
Second, he reminds us that God extends to us an invitation, knowing that we naturally harbor anxiousness in our hearts and minds. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” (v6). Why? Does God not know our needs? Of course, he does, but as an act of trust, worship, and personal surrender, we are to boldly bring our specific requests right into the lap of the Eternal God.
Thirdly, Paul reminds us that there is trustworthy promise in prayer. “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and minds in Christ Jesus,” (v7). Note that the passage doesn’t say that our understanding and brain power is the pathway to peace. No, the “peace” in verse 7 transcends our understanding and comes to us by the power, character, and grace of God’s Spirit—we can’t produce that, only receive it.
Friends, experience tells me that this prayer takes practice. Even as simply as Paul explains it, I tend to wander in the encouragement, invitation, promise, and application of the truth that is presented.
I’m not good at memorizing Scripture, but Philippians 4:4-7 is firmly planted in my memory bank so I can bring it front-and-center when I’m discouraged. My prayer for you is the same . . . that the “promise of peace” will be a life application reality when everything around you shouts otherwise.
In the Peace of Christ,