Prayer is one of the greatest privileges for Christians. It is a poignant reminder that we are not only set apart as holy by the Lord but that we can come to Him with thanksgiving, issues, concerns, or needs at any moment. And when we consider Paul’s exhortation to prayer in Phillipians 4:4-7 we see that prayer is absolutely amazing.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Do you have one of those friends who no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen each other, you could pick up a conversation with them right where it left off? You could have 20-years of absolutely no contact, and at the moment of reconnection, you engage with each other as if nothing had happened? While there’s nothing wrong with that, that is NOT the type of relationship God has with His people!
One of the hallmarks of the Christian faith is that we don’t worship a distant God. He isn’t some far-off being with no care or interest in His people. He doesn’t take vacations or cut off contact for some Divine “me time” (Or perhaps Trinitarian Us time?) He is and will always be near to those whom He has redeemed. That’s why Paul was able to write “rejoice in the Lord, again I will say rejoice…The Lord is at hand.” And we know that is the reality for a believer because He has “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Before the ages began God had a personal plan for all of His people. And He doesn’t orchestrate this from a distance, He is with His people.
And not only is He present, but He also wants to hear from His people. He wants believers to communicate with Him through prayer. And He doesn’t just want some highlights. He calls the saints to bring everything to Him “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
At any moment, by the merit of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit Christians have the divinely given right to approach God with anything through prayer. The One who created and sustains the universe not only has the ability to hear your prayers, He wants to. Prayer is absolutely amazing because Christians have a harder time getting in touch with their local water company than they do directly communicating with the Lord and creator of the entire universe. If that fact about prayer doesn’t excite you, I honestly believe that nothing will.
“Christians have a harder time getting in touch with their local water company than they do directly communicating with the Lord and creator of the entire universe.”
So we see that through Christ we have the opportunity to pray, but what does prayer do in and to a believer? This passage (and its context) gives us 4 applications:
1. Prayer Buries Anxiety
Do not be anxious about anything. That’s a bold statement (and one that may cause some anxiety!) But it’s true because if “God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). We know God is for us because He wants to hear our prayers and take a personal interest in what’s going on in our lives. He knows all things but still wants us to approach the throne with all things. That’s a pretty big blow to anxiety.
2. Prayer Builds Contentment
But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Praying to God and bringing our needs to Him reminds us that he has already supplied the greatest need of all, His Son (James 1:17, Romans 6:23). Prayer reminds us of what we have been given from the One True God, and contentment is not far behind.
3. Prayer Breeds Peace
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Prayer isn’t always answered in the manner we desire, but it is always answered. When you pray consistently you can have peace in the result knowing that the Lord has the best interest of His people in mind. That’s why it surpasses understanding. By worldly standards not getting what we pray for seems like prayer doesn’t work, but prayer works a divine peace into our hearts that just plain old doesn’t make sense.
4. Prayer Binds Believers Together
Now, this point needs a bit of context. Philippians 4:2-9 is about resolving the unknown conflict between Euodia and Syntyche (4:2). And it is that divisive issue that Paul has in mind when calling them to pray. This passage points out that prayer is connected with joy, peace, comfort, unity, gratitude, faith, trust, hope, and so much more. It’s clear why Paul called the church to pray in response to disunity, prayer connects us to God and each other as we live as God’s people in this fallen world. In a word, it’s hard to be at each other’s throats while we’re on our knees together in prayer.
There are many applications in Scripture that exhort us to pray. But these 4 are powerful and genuinely change the heart of the Christian. So I guess in closing this post out the only thing I have left to say is, “pray.”