Need Help, Just Ask for it
(Read Philippians 4:6-7)
Someone once told me that they only pray “big” prayers to God because they don’t want to bother him with trivial concerns. Aside from not understanding the power of prayer, this belief also showed a narrow understanding of God’s relationship with us. Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written to preach unity to the members of that early church. It also included simple advice for a life centered on Christ. Paul encouraged them to pray to God about anything and everything that troubled them.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
When I learned a friend of mine had suddenly lost his ability to speak due to brain lesions, I immediately prayed. Since then, he’s been undergoing therapy and all kinds of treatments to return his quality of life and to heal him. Paul told us to, “not be anxious about anything.” This is actually a command from God. Worry is an affront to an area that God has under control. Suspending worry is not an easy task when facing a serious health or life crisis. God hears our requests and strengthens our faith, our hope, and relationship with him. God heals our ills. God creates miracles. God can do all things. We are to give God the source of our anxiety. When we pray with thanksgiving, we are showing God that we’re not second guessing his plan, but rather we have joy in our place with him.
Philippians provides a pattern for a straight forward way of praying where we are encouraged to present our requests to God. Our prayers can go unanswered if we don’t ask God for anything. Even though God knows our wishes before we ask him, he wants us to show our faith and trust in him by asking. All areas of our lives are of concern to God.
Paul just didn’t throw in “prayer and supplication” because it sounded good or because it filled out the narrative. God not only wants us to communicate with him (prayer) but he also wants us to directly ask him to do something (supplication).
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Peace of God” is beyond any human comprehension. We are not capable of fully grasping the literal meaning, but Christian believers truly understand the significance. My wife and I are praying daily for our friend who is suffering. We are praying that God heals him. We are also praying that God grants him and his family peace to endure the pain and struggle. We are praying for hope.
At some point in his life, Paul had a major health crisis that he referred to as a “thorn.” Corinthians tells us that Paul asked God three different times for it to be removed. God replied but did not remove it.
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'”
(2 Corinthians 12:7–9)
God told Paul that His grace was fully capable of providing everything Paul needed to endure this suffering. We also should know that God’s grace will help us in ways we won’t always know and see right away. We only see what’s in front of us. If you were to look at the back of a medieval tapestry, you would notice a mixed up, cluster of random colored threads tangled together in a big mess. Yet, the front is beautiful masterpiece, a work of art. Only God knows the outcome. God knows how all things work towards his good and glory.
Another friend of mine recently recovered from a 4-hour surgery. He was released and doing well. The next evening, he spiked a fever. He had chills. His temperature was 102 so he was taken back to the hospital. His family prayed passionately and expectantly. When he arrived at the hospital, after looking him over, they discovered his temperature was in the normal range. The hospital staff claimed that their thermometer must have been off or that they must have misread it. Before heading to the hospital however, they had taken each other’s temperatures to be sure it was working, and they were normal. Maybe just a coincidence? Maybe God intervened.
We don’t know how God will answer our prayers. At different times, we may pray for medical healing, for emotional healing, for relationship healing. Even when there is no sign of a positive outcome, we can expect a comforting “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” This is God’s sign that nothing is beyond the hope of God’s goodness.
During a crisis, we don’t always see clearly. We don’t fully understand. Whether we need a healing miracle or a burden to be lifted, we just need to ask. God will give us answers. He will give us clarity. He will give us peace.
- Do your prayers reflect whining, complaining, and needing? Do you actually ask God specifically what he can do for you?
- What is your understanding of the Peace of God?
- Do you see miracles in our life? If not, do you expect them?
- Read Philippians 4. Pray for something you really want God to do for you. Ask him for exactly what you want. Ask God with a thankful heart. See it happening in your prayer.
- Do you feel God’s peace in your life? If you do, relish this joy and thank him for it. If you don’t, ask him for it. Trust him and believe in him. Open up your heart for him to place his peace there.
- In 2010, a Pew study found that nearly 80% of all Americans believe in miracles. Do you think God still performs miracles? Think of something you would consider a miracle. Pray for it. See if it happens, or if something else, something good becomes of it. Ask for it.
Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.