Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7, “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.”
“I love to read your words, Paul. But how do I get there? How do I, “Be anxious for nothing” all the time?” I have experienced peace in times when the old me would have been anxious and it is wonderful. I have also hit some perfect golf shots. My problem is not that these moments happen and I don’t understand how. It is, “How do I experience these moments more frequently and consistently?”
When I read these verses, I think I put too much focus on the “peace that surpasses all understanding” part. Paul gives us a formula in the verses, and that’s the problem. Formulas and equations take work. Formulas can be complicated and take a lot of time and effort. I would rather get right to the answer, enjoy the results. I want the peace without the work. Peace is the result of working the formula. I do not remember my first golf shot, but I know it was not perfect. It took hundreds to achieve, “Not bad.” As I continued to work the formula for hitting a perfect golf shot, my shots improved. Paul tells us to be anxious for nothing which seems impossible, and maybe it is. But he does not leave us there. He counters with the first variable in the formula. “In everything” He says that we should be thankful to God for everything, even terrible golf shots. We should recognize and acknowledge God’s sovereignty. He has complete control. That is the first part of Paul’s formula for experiencing the peace of God.
Part two is giving thanks, “Thank you God for everything.” And yes, Paul means everything, bad golf shots, physical and emotional pain, hunger and fights, all things, good and bad. If we want absolute freedom from being anxious, we have to give thanks to God for everything because He is sovereign over All Things! Now the third part of the formula, making requests known. When we follow the formula and have worked through the first and second steps, we will be ready for step three. God knows our requests before we ask, but do we? If we work the formula backwards and start with requests, those requests are rarely the same as when we work the formula and finish with requests.
The last part of the formula is the result. Results are the product of working through a formula. The result is not only peace, but protection. Where are the only two places being anxious can live? Anxiety lives in our hearts and our minds. God protects our hearts and minds when we work His equation properly. Just think about God, our sovereign, guarding your heart and your mind. Nothing false, nothing bad enters when He is on guard. Isn’t that peaceful? That kind of peace may be beyond understanding, but the formula is not. Now get to work.