“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
Third week of Advent, a week of JOY in an anticipation of Christmas, the birth of Christ our savior and redeemer.
We begin this week with a profound reading from Philippians that tells us Christ is near. St. Paul reminds us of our relationship with God through prayer. Prayer is the place in our hearts we may feel closest to Christ.
Through prayer we open our hearts to God telling Him the requests placed on our hearts.
A few weeks ago as I was leading small group discussion in our 6th grade youth group on prayer, my daughter asked why God hasn’t answered her prayer. I knew the prayer on her heart and I also knew that God is working on that prayer but it just wasn’t obvious to her at this time because it wasn’t being answered in the way she was expecting.
Fast forward a week later, I was in spiritual direction laying out God’s movement in my own prayer life and my director asked me if I thought the events happened because of my prayer. In other words, did my prayer cause them to happen?
That’s a pretty thought provoking question, especially when we hear St Paul tell us to make our requests known to God.
Draw your attention to what St Paul says next?
“Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
God already knows our heart, He already has a plan in motion. In my daughter’s prayer and mine, His divine will was being laid before us.
I believe that our prayers, petition and thanksgiving are a way of us connecting with God so that He can give us understanding of His plan and guard our hearts through this relationship we have with Christ.
Think about that for a second. Knowing He already has this petition on your heart figured out fills the soul with a profound peace as we pray for His will and watch God unfold the rest. God may not answer a specific intention as we request but it will be answered in the way He sees best for us. Prayer is opening the heart to understanding His will for us through our relationship with Christ Jesus.
Today, we are invited to rejoice in knowing that our hearts and minds will be filled with understanding and peace as we anticipate the coming of Christ within us. “The Lord is near.”