The Formula

Philippians 4   Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.

Most Athletes are looking for that magic formula for success.  Some may run after a coach with a winning track record, hoping they might have the answer.  In the exceptional running documentary, 100 Seconds to Beat the World, we follow the progress of Kenyan 800m world record holder David Rudisha.  His unusual coach is Irish Catholic Missionary Brother Colm O’Connell who is acknowledged as the most successful distance coach in the world having coached in Kenya for over 35 years with 4 Olympic Gold Medallists and 25 World Champions.  In the documentary they ask Brother Colm what his secret is.  His answer was “the secret is there is no secret”.  Coach Colm is probably being modest as he certainly has training methods and I’d suggest that he is a huge psychological motivator and mentor for these young people, which certainly contributes to their success, and not least of all, he is starting with an incredible gene pool for distance running.

There is a formula though that I find in the Bible which is of far greater value than the formula for athletic success.  In fact, if you could bottle it up, guarantee its success, I’m sure you could make billions of dollars from its sale because the world is yearning for it.  They are yearning for peace.  Beyond just the grandiose statement of desiring world peace, they are craving for an internal peace.  And beyond just the world, Christians are yearning for internal peace, desiring to know the will of God.

I am one of those Christians.  I long to know the will of God for my life and desire the peace that results when I am sure I am walking in His will.  There are times when I feel certain I am walking in His will, while there are many other times where I do not, and I feel restless.  I have found that as always, the answer lies in the word of God, and specifically in Philippians 4, with which we began this devotional.

In these verses in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he is addressing Christians like me, those who are anxious and lacking peace.  He instructs us not to be anxious and in essence gives us a formula.  The simple formula is:  PRAYER & PETITION + THANKSGIVING = PEACE OF GOD.   In fact, if we look at Psalm 100:4, we are instructed to Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise”, so I would change the formula around to be:  THANKSGIVING + PRAYER & PETITION = PEACE OF GOD.

It all begins with THANKSGIVING.  It begins with an attitude of praise and not an attitude of frustration or desperation.  That is not to say that we cannot feel overwhelmed or even distraught, but in that place we need to make the conscious decision to enter His courts with praise.  I recall days where I have driven in my car and been in despair yet singing praise and worship songs with tears running down my cheek.  King David was a master of being able to do this, praising God in a place of utter desperation.

In this place of THANKSGIVING, we can now bring our PRAYERS, bring our PETITIONS to the Lord.  God wants to hear from us.  We are not chastised for asking God; rather Jesus commends the persistent widow in the Luke 18 parable. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? (Luke 18:7).  The key, however, is that it all began with an attitude of thanksgiving and not one of complaint or frustration.  It is in this place that the Bible promises us a supernatural peace that can’t be explained by human reasoning.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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