Philippians 4:4–7 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Andrew Fuller notes that verse 7 must be understood in connection with 4-6 as well. i.e That the peace mentioned here requires the previous elements. Prayer is not the lone agent in obtaining the “peace of God.”
SO, if we were to list these in order it would look like this:
a. A continually rejoicing heart in the Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” A heart that enjoys the peace of God is one which purposely rejoices in Christ our Savior. And this is not a one time act, but a purposeful choice of habitual behavior. I will add only briefly that if one is not regularly interacting with the Scriptures and books and other resources which reiterate and reinforce Biblical themes – this will be equivalent to materializing gold out of thin air. The stuff, the base material of a rejoicing heart is the truth of God’s Word to God’s People – with special focus upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.
b. A discernable soberness of mind shared with others. “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” One lexicon notes that this word “reasonableness” consists in: “not insisting on every right of letter of law or custom, yielding, gentle, kind, courteous, tolerant.” (BDAG). In other words, one who refuses to live in agitation over the lack of others doing things our way, thinking like us or even having contrary views. This attitude is to be publicly manifest, because it is privately lived. It does not let others push our buttons. We cannot have God’s peace and live in constant irritation and agitation over others. God does not live in such a way, and He calls us to abandon it too. At this moment in time – think – Presidential politics. Is the Lord not at hand even here and now in THIS chaotic mess? Indeed He is.
c. A refusal to be anxious. “do not be anxious about anything.” It is to see the seriousness of serious things, but not to let that concern run away with the heart and mind. It is not a total lack of care, but a proportional one which keeps in mind who the Believer is in The Father’s eyes, and that in His sovereign power and limitless wisdom, He is at work for our good and His glory. It is a frame of mind which refuses to give into either panic, or despair, or the two together in a white hot combustion.
d. A prayerful heart and habit. “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” This is the habit of bringing all of our cares and requests before Him, believing He hears us and will answer in perfect time, wisdom and manner. To approach prayer not as some way of either buttering God up, nor of trying to engage in cosmic arm bending, but supplicating a Father we know full well loves us and knows what is best. To hide nothing of our desire, and to trust He knows what is most loving both to withhold and to grant. This being our normal course.
e. A thankful heart. “with thanksgiving”. Reminding ourselves of His past care and track record of bringing us through the various trials and temptations of life already. And above all, thankfulness for our salvation and the privileges and hope we have in Jesus Christ.
When these things are taken as whole, in all of its parts – the blessed result is the peace of God reigning in the soul. A peace that truly passes all understanding in the very worst of times.