The Quest for Peace: Prayer, Scripture Meditation, and Gratitude
Peace can be elusive. It may feel at times that peace is an unreachable destination that exists outside the realm of reality. We lead lives full of busyness, stress, and high standards. We experience tragedy, loss, and uncertainty. When we are in the midst of these challenges, where can peace be found?
Perhaps a better question to start with is this: What is peace? We can describe it in many ways. Peace can be thought of as a state of tranquility. It might be considered freedom from anxiety, distraction, or irritation. Peace might mean being content, feeling relaxed, or a experiencing a state of calm. Again, where can peace be found?
The Bible also has something specific to say about the source of peace. In Isaiah, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. When Jesus was in his three-year ministry, he spoke to his disciples and said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). As we approach Easter, we can acknowledge that the true peace that Jesus came here to bring is the knowledge that he repaired our relationship with God by his ultimate sacrifice on the cross. This is the peace that lasts into eternity, and we only get glimpses of it until we reach the fullness of peace in heaven.
The challenge for some is that we are still on earth, so what do we do to have peace in the meantime? God gives us a suggestion through the writing of Paul in Philippians 4:6-7. Paul writes, “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.” Let’s break this down a bit.
God wants to soothe our anxiety. He wants us to have peace. He wants to hear what is in our hearts and on our minds, and he wants us to bring it to him in prayer. When we bring our worries, our burdens, and our stressors to him in prayer, we know he hears us and invites us to find rest in him. We can ask him for peace in prayer or seek peace as we meditate on his Word. If you want to practice meditating on God’s Word, start with Psalm 46, particularly verse 10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” or pick a passage that soothes your heart. Find a comfortable place. Take a deep and slow breath in, and then exhale fully. Focus on your breathing for a minute or two. Read the passage slowly in your mind or out loud. Read it again. Ask yourself, “What is God saying to me here?” “How does this apply to me?” Re-read the passage. Close by thanking our heavenly Father for his faithfulness and grace. Thank him for being the source of peace for your soul.
One of the key elements of this passage from Philippians is a part that I have brushed over in the past. Looking with fresh eyes, I think it might be one of the more important parts: the word thanksgiving. Gratitude. Giving thanks. I just finished reading a book on gratitude, and it taught me a simple truth: We have countless blessings, even on the days when it feels like the world is falling apart. When we have a tough day, or a difficult season in life, we can lose track of the many blessings we have, and highlight all of the parts of our life that are going poorly. This is the robber of peace. No matter how many things are going wrong, there are blessings. Yes, it is healthy to acknowledge and face the difficult and complex emotions and experiences we go through, and face them honestly. I’m not telling you to “silver lining” all of your problems. At the same time, we can acknowledge the blessings we have. I’m going to start, and then I want you to think of your own blessings, and write them down. One good way to do this is to write down one blessing per day, and share it with someone you care about.
- A husband who is loving and supportive
- My body, which is growing a sweet baby
- Parents that love me
- Friends that encourage my faith and well-being
- A church that God uses to feed my soul
- A growth group, where I grow in faith with my friends
- Nieces and nephews that fill me with joy
- A job that fulfills me, and co-workers that support me
- Having enough money to pay bills
- Air in my lungs
- A coat to keep me warm
- The sun that warms the earth and my face
- Doctors that keep me healthy
- Food that nourishes my body
Take time to nourish your souls with Scripture reading, prayer, and gratitude, and trust God to fill your hearts and minds with peace.