I’m excited about my brand-new Bible study published by Prayer Shop Publishing last week. It’s the second in my Breakthrough Prayer Studies for Small Groups series. Here’s a sample so you can check out what it’s like.
Philippians 4:6-7 is a passage familiar to many Christians, especially believers who care a lot about prayer: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” So when the Holy Spirit brought that passage to mind recently, I thought He was just reminding me not to worry so much and to pray more about the situations that were causing me anxiety.
However, a phrase stuck out to me as I pondered those familiar words: with thanksgiving. Ordinarily, I’ve usually breezed right over that part of the instruction. If you’d ask me God’s method for having peace that passes understanding I probably would have said, “Don’t worry, but pray about everything.” And I would have been half right. Yes, God definitely wants me to give Him my worries and heartaches, my frustrations and fears—but He wants me to mingle those with thanksgiving.
So I tried it. I thought about all my piles at work and my deadlines. I prayed and asked God for wisdom and help to get it done—well and on time. And then I took it the next step and thanked Him for the excellent team I work with who make the work load lighter and a whole lot more fun. Hmmm. I feel more peaceful already.
I thought about a big decision I had to make that felt really hard to me. I used to make big decisions with my husband and even though he’d been gone five years already, I still missed him. So I prayed and asked God for guidance to make the decision. To lead me into His paths. And then I thanked Him for all the ways He had faithfully guided me since my husband’s death. He really has been a Husband to me. He hasn’t failed me yet—I don’t think He will this time, either. My heart was able to rest.
The Holy Spirit’s gentle invitation to ponder more deeply a familiar passage of Scripture enabled me to pray prayers that were more “high road” than I would have ordinarily. And the result for me was peace.
Now You Do It!
When I sense impending disaster, my praying can sometimes sound more like panicking-aloud-to-God than actual prayer. I’m still talking to God, and that’s far better than avoiding Him or trying to find my own solution. However, certain scriptures inspire me to pray with more trust, confidence and hope. Read the following passages. After each one, write down what the crisis was and how the pray-er(s) talked to God about it.
- Psalm 3 (read with note introducing the Psalm; for more background about David and Absalom, read 2 Samuel 15)
- 2 Chronicles 20:1-12
- Acts 4:12-31
What themes do you notice in these prayers? How does this compare with how you might ordinarily pray in these situations? How do these themes inspire you to pray more “high-road” prayers? Use one of them to pray about something on your heart right now.