Do not worry . . . but in everything . . . let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
I once heard a preacher compare people’s praying to a man carrying a large sack full of troubles. Exhausted, the man throws the sack down, and unpacks his troubles one by one to offer them up to God. But when he finishes praying, the man gathers them all back into the sack, heaves the sack onto his shoulder and shuffles off, no different than before. The preacher’s point: when you bring your troubles to Jesus, leave them there.
It’s a good observation. Yet when I used it in a sermon someone later told me that when he prayed about his troubles, he did not find that he left them behind. Rather, through prayer, he was able to surrender the outcome of his troubles to God, and this made them lighter. Prayer lessened the anxiety that had made the trouble unbearable. That too is a good point.
Paul says when we make our requests known to God, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts (v. 7). This peace is not merely the peace God gives; it is the peace God possesses, God’s own inner peace. To enter this peace is to experience both God’s goodness and God’s power and to know that ultimately everything will be all right.
Lord God, show us your peace that we may rest. Amen.