so I posted earlier about the verse prior to the ABC Passage (see below) last week as I am familiar with the meaning of the verse in the main passage. I’ve been thinking about the passage this week and I have some additional thoughts.

ABC Passage

Last Week

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.

-Philippians 4:6–7

This Week

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 4:19

Setup

So last semester I was introduced to the concept a discipline. Feel Free to skip if you already are familiar with the term Discipline as Richard Foster in his Celebration of Discipline defines it. (A fine book by the way.)

So what is a “Discipline?”

A discipline does not make you holy. It places you, when done with the right intentions, in a position that God is able to change you. There’s an underlying attitude that I do _____ because God wants me to as opposed to God wants me to for my own sake.

Illustration of Discipline

I’ll use an illustration of a Parent and a child. Parent wants Child to eat his vegetables. Child protests saying that the Parent is being too strict. *Pause*

Why is Parent telling the Child to eat his vegetables? Because the Parents wants to be strict? Is it for the Parents sake? No. The Parents “commands” the Child to eat the vegetables for the Child’s sake, not the Parents sake. The Parent needs NOT the vegetables eaten by the Child.

As It Applies to the ABC Passage

It’s a “Discipline” as well

In the same way, I’d say that “

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you requests to God” is a Discipline as well. I realize now that this passage never speaks of God providing the needs but only providing peace to guard our minds and heart (in Christ).

While this week’s passage (and others) do promise that God will provide for needs (and may provide for wants), this passage talks strictly about the person doing the prayer.

Brief dissection

“A peace that transcends all understanding.” Paraphrase: “A peace that cannot be explained.” Will what? Peace that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Why? For ourselves. We need protection from our old desires, from sinking back into the patterns of this world. We need the renewing of our minds as provided in Christ Jesus. See the ACTS model below for a practical start.

Not for God but for ourselves

The focus in on person doing the prayer. All things promised to happen focus on the the prayeree and not God. God commands us to Pray to him for our own sake, not for his. He already knows our prayers. We pray to declare our dependence of God. We prayer to receive renewal of our minds (more on that later)

The passage focuses not on the granting of the prayer request but the granting of a deeper need. God doesn’t make life easier but God enables you to get through life. In the same way, God may not grant you specifically what you prayed for, he will, as the perfect parent, grant you what is best for your growth at the moment.

Paraphrase: God will deny your request if he is going to give you something even better than you asked for-even if we don’t consider it the best or know it’s the best.

Food for Thought

Now that I know that the highest, ultimate purpose of our prayers is to be changed more like Christ, NOT
to be granted requests,

  • How should I pray Differently?
    • I’ve been suggested this device for my prayers (Credit: Kai who read a book on this): ACTS in that order for structuring my prayers
    • Adoration: Praise God for who He is, what He’s done, etc
    • Confession: Confess any sins, failures, apathy, etc. Unconfessed sin will hinder your relationship (and often communication) with God.
    • Thanksgiving: Thank God for salvation, for forgiveness, for who He is, etc
    • Supplication: When you place your “wishlist” for things last, you shift your focus off of your problems and onto how great, awesome, caring, capable, loving our God is. This will put your problems in a truer perspective. How small are most of our requests when compared with the task of pursuing holiness & glorification of God!
  • What are some things that I should start praying for?
  • What are some things that I should shift my prayer focus away from?
    • What are some things I need to re-evaluate my underlying motives for?

Stopping and reflecting is always a valuable time that will pay for itself in renewed vigor and focus. I hope this was edifying.

Soli Dio Gloria. To the Glory of God Alone.

-Tim

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