Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

It is Monday. We studied Philippians 4 yesterday, and next to me is a sheet to fill out. It includes a prayer for enemies, requests to make known to God, and blanks to fill in gifts that I have that I could give to the community.

God’s promises, as Paul writes them in his letter to the church at Philippi, are quite surprising. The peace of God will guard my heart and mind. Yesterday, Debbie drew a picture of a heart guarded from arrows: it is guarded both by incoming attacks and from within, by our cowardice to run away from the fight. In some mysterious way, as I talk to God my mind and heart both become calm and safe, and this only from letting him know my requests.

Often, when I pray, it takes a few moments for my true requests to show themselves. I start praying generally, generic thanks for the day or generic requests for help. But, as I enter into the prayer, my soul or heart or mind or whatever the deepest part of me praying is, that part gets warmed up and I pray what I really mean. I pray as David prays in the psalms. It gets messy because I am messy and David was messy: he prayed for revenge and deliverance from enemies trying to kill him and for forgiveness after committing adultery with Bathsheba. These are the real prayers, when I truly show God my heart by telling him my deepest requests: for forgiveness in a specific sense, for peace when a father is sick and a brother is traveling and a job is unsure. They are real requests that admit: I am not God and cannot do this alone. This is the place we to which we must come.

From there, God guards us. He guards — not our bodies — our hearts and minds, helping us withstand attacks from without and attacks from within that we level at ourselves.

I think about this, on a Monday afternoon. On Sunday mornings thinking about this and feeling God’s love are easy: I am surrounded by people who care for me and want to follow God, too. But there are times in the week when it becomes hard. There are many times when I don’t make my requests known to God and allow him into those requests, allow his peace and light into those requests. I think I can satisfy my own requests at such times, at least sub-consciously, and I can’t.

May we be people who place our requests before God. May we find peace from doing this. And may this peace extend beyond our own lives into our relationships and actions and very thoughts, that our lives may be “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”