Precious words of life. Philippians 4.6-7
It is early morning as I write - I have fed Lucy and Ethel, my Rhode Island Reds,1 and my favorite old hymns are quietly playing. Now with Peet's coffee in hand, off to my office to think, pray and write. Paul's precious words have been in my mind since I awakened.
The first time I memorized these verses, 'twas out of the King James Version my mother gave me when I was five years old: "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4.6-7
In high school, I loved The Way, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus." The verses emboldened me.
No matter the version, the words were comforting and instructive to me. However, the words became life to me when I claimed them for my blonde curly-haired little girl. You see at just seven years of age, Amy asked me the meaning of life as I said her evening prayers with her one night. 'Ah Lord,' I prayed as I put my own head down on the pillow, 'what can I give her little troubled mind, so old for one so young?' These verses immediately sprung to my mind to pray for her, over her and with her. They became the verses I prayed for Amy as she went through grammar school, high school, and away to U.C. Berkeley: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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." (NIV)
Paul's intent is clear - Christian, worry is not for you. God has given you the gift of prayer, of communicating with him. Go to him with everything that concerns you in your life-tell him your needs, ask him for his guidance, thank him, and he will give you a peace that defies all human logic. But, why thanksgiving? All these years-from all of these different versions-I have just spouted it off as a 'given', but never stopped to consider why the 'thanks' part was important to either the prayer, the answer, God, or me either, for that matter. . . until now.
First, children of God must always be thankful for the gift of prayer, the gift of communicating with our loving Heavenly Father; and second, we must bear in mind that whatever his responses to our prayers, we ought be giving him 'thanks'
, because 'he works all things together for good to those who love him!' He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps2; he who watches you and me has not gone to sleep on the job either.
So, before worry, let us pray. . . and then before any known outcome, let us give thanks to the God above who is all-wise and all-knowing and has our best interests in mind.
Now I get it . . . I see the importance of coupling prayer and thanksgiving - they form a powerful 'one-two punch' for victorious daily living, understanding God's loving care for us, enabling us to be at peace. Oh, these two verses are indeed precious words of life!
1 - Rhode Island Reds - my chickens!
2 - Psalm 121.4