By Jerry Price
Focal Passage: Philippians 4:4-9
I met one of my best friends in 1964 at Park Avenue Baptist Church in Nashville. We have been to school together twice, worked in the same place twice, and shared an apartment together at one school. He was the best man at my wedding 46 years ago. There is not a lot that we don’t know about each other. Someone once asked me if he and I were brothers. I replied, “Only in the Lord. But if you want to know anything about him, ask me. If you want to know anything about me, ask him.”
If someone had asked me if I knew him a month or so after we met, I would have said, “Yes!” In hindsight, it would have been more correct to say we were acquainted. But over the last 55 years, I truly have gotten to know him. How did that happen? We have spent hours upon hours talking about life, our likes and dislikes, our hopes and dreams, our highs and our lows, our families, etc.
Any relationship can only be developed by spending quality time together and being open and honest with each other. That is especially true of our relationship with the Lord. I’ve had people tell me they don’t have time to spend with the Lord. I’ve discovered in my own life that I don’t have time not to spend time with Him. Spending time with Him will produce an attitude of rejoicing (Philippians 4:4) and graciousness (v. 5).
Part of spending time with the Lord is making our requests known to God through “prayer and petition.” But someone may say, “If God is Omniscient, He already knows what I need — so why pray?” God does know before we ask Him. But our giving voice to our request helps us to be fully aware of our needs so that we will more readily know when He answers our requests.
Then Paul says that prayer must also be accompanied by “thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving is the expression of a grateful heart for all that God is and does. Except in rare circumstances, I try to always begin my times of prayer with thanksgiving before sticking my hand out asking for something. What are we to pray for? Everything! There is absolutely nothing, great or small, that we should not submit to God in prayer.
Unfortunately, we can fall into the trap of “busy-ness” and neglect to pray. That’s when we often get frustrated when things don’t go the way we expect them to. But when we do pray about everything as we should, the “peace of God” stands guard over our “hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Finally, Paul stated that we are to let our minds “dwell on” certain things (vv. 8-9). Thinking consistently on these things can lead to a whole new attitude toward life.
On at least two occasions while counseling someone who was having an attitude problem (don’t we all have that at times?), I had them cut index cards in half and put each of those words (true, honorable, etc.) on top of the card. Then they were asked to list some things that fit in each category.
Each day they were to select one card to keep with them all day and, when they had a few spare moments, take the card out and thank God for the things they had written on the card. The next day, they were to choose another card and repeat the process. This is more than positive thinking. It is godly thinking — which leads to real peace. B&R — Price, a retired pastor and denominational worker, is a member of First Baptist Church, Spring Hill.