Thursday, July 12, 2012

React to Problems with Thankful Prayer

The Prophet Jonah reacted with thankful prayer when a great fish swallowed him (Jonah 2:1). If you suddenly found yourself swimming in a fish’s gastric juices, how do you think you’d react? Maybe you’d cry out, “God, what are You doing? Where are You? Why is this happening to me?”  If there were ever an excuse for panic, surely this would be it. But no, Jonah reacted differently: 

I called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me. . . . Thou hadst cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas. . . . I have been expelled from Thy sight. . . . Water encompassed me to the very soul, the great deep engulfed me, weeds were wrapped around my head. I descended to the roots of the mountains. . . . While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to Thee, into Thy holy temple. Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to Thee with the voice of thanksgiving. . . . Salvation is from the Lord (vv. 2–9, emphasis added).

Although Jonah had his weaknesses, he reflected profound spiritual stability in this prayer. He was confident of God’s ability to deliver him if He so chose. In the same way the peace of God will help us be stable if we react to our circumstances, however unusual or ordinary, with thankful prayer instead of anxiety. That’s the promise of Philippians 4:7: “The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This precious verse promises inner calm and tranquility to believers who pray with a thankful attitude. Notice, however, it doesn’t promise what the answer to our prayers will be.

This peace “surpasses all comprehension,”  which speaks of its divine origin. It transcends human intellect, analysis, and insight. No human counselor can give it to you because it’s a gift from God in response to gratitude and trust.

MacArthur, J. (1993). Anxiety Attacked. MacArthur Study Series (33). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.