Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The promise in these verses is amazing, a peace that is incomprehensible! With the Covid thing going on, shut downs, partial shutdowns, stupid masks, a news media bent on overhyping everything about this virus to the point that people are filled with fear, the election, all the unknowns about the future, the economy, and on and on, peace – total freedom from anxiety seems impossible. But total freedom from anxiety is exactly what is promised, that sounds so nice!
Everybody prays to some degree but it doesn’t result in much. A husband and wife talk to each other as they live together in a house, raising their kids, going to work, to church, and other activities, and doing their chores in and around the house. But the talk is impulsive and unplanned, short, on the move as they pass each other, often problem oriented, and it doesn’t result in very much growth in intimacy with each other. That is pretty much the description of the average persons prayer life. If I really want to have a time of real communication with Patty we plan a date together at a restaurant, a drive together, or even a planned time of conversation at home. One of the key ingredients is time, another is freedom from distractions and interruptions, and the main thing is an unspoken commitment to enter into the conversation with attentiveness and thoughtfulness.
In order to experience the kind of peace that is beyond all comprehension the praying we do needs to be more than short, on the move, convenient, prayers that lack focus, thoughtfulness, and attentiveness to our own thoughts. So it is not surprising that anxiety, and depression are very high right now in most people’s lives even if they are Christians and “pray.”
Four times a year we have a “Five Day Prayer Event,” at JBC, and I usually pray over 6 hours in each of the five days of prayer. We pray from 5:00 to 10:00 am and 5:00 to 10:00 pm each day with a 15 minute break each hour for people to come and go. We have been doing these prayer events for about thirty years and I have participated in almost every one of them. So I can say without any hype or hesitation that they are a major source of peace for me.
It is amazing though, that after all these prayer events that I have participated in, I still start each one with the same sense that I have when I go to the dentist. I go because it is important and I want to keep my teeth, but I don’t expect to have a lot of fun. Next Monday morning I will set my alarm clock for 4:20 am and when it goes off I will groan, not being very excited about getting up and heading off to prayer. But it doesn’t take very many hours praying together with about 20 other people in person and another 20 via Zoom, that I begin to feel a renewal happening inside of me, not only a calmness but a positive sense that life is good because God is in charge.
The Five Days of Prayer is December 7th to the 11th in the chapel, the building with the shake roof, and also on Zoom. Look on our website http://www.jbc.church for details on connecting to Zoom.