Learn About/Subscribe:
Christian Union

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:7

What is the result of the last post’s description of a lifestyle encompassed by expectant, petitionary prayer and thanksgiving?  A promise!  It is a “peace” that “guards” hearts and minds as they remain fixed on Jesus Christ.  Not only “a” peace, but His peace.  And not only His peace, but His peace which transcends all understanding!

The phrase used to describe the peace of God isn’t found anywhere else in the New Testament, but it refers to “that peace which God himself possesses or has, that is, ‘the serenity in which he lives.’”[1]  One scholar describes it as “not so much peace with God (justification), nor exclusively the peace of God referring to the ‘inward peace of soul which comes from God,’ but Paul seems to be referring to ‘the tranquility of God’s own eternal being, the peace which God himself has, the calm serenity that characterizes his very nature and which grateful, trusting Christians are welcome to share.’”[2] Incredible!  And not only is it a peace that characterizes the very being of our God, but it is literally beyond anything that we can comprehend or generate for ourselves.

As beautiful and powerful as that is, Paul doesn’t stop there.  He pictures God’s peace as a garrison keeping guard over the Philippians’ hearts and minds, protecting them from all assaults.  The word he uses for “guard” is a vivid military term used of a detachment of soldiers who stand guard over a city and protect it from an attack.  It literally means “to guard, keep in custody, preserve.” Because the city of Philippi was guarded by a Roman garrison at the time, the metaphor would have been easily understood and appreciated by the readers.  In combining the words for heart and mind, Paul is referring to a Christian’s whole inner life or being, to include our “emotions, affections, thoughts and moral choices.  This inner part of a person, then, so vulnerable to attack by the enemy, is that which God's peace is set, like battle-ready soldiers, to protect.”[3]

One scholar sums it up well in saying that “Joy, prayer, thanksgiving, peace – these identify Pauline spirituality.  Such lives are further marked by gentle forbearance and no anxiety…In a post-Christian, post-modern world, which has generally lost its bearings because it has generally abandoned its God, such spirituality is very often the key to effective evangelism.  In a world where fear is a much greater reality than joy, our privilege is to live out the gospel of true shalom, wholeness in every sense of that word, and to point others to its source.”[4]

Imagine that!  May this time of prayer and fasting release God’s presence and power in our lives in such a way that the very tranquility and peace of His eternal being will pervade deeply into our beings and stand down all anxious thoughts, as a military guard would, over our hearts and minds.

[1] Peter T. O’Brien, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, The Epistle to the Philippians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), pg. 496­.

[2] Gerald F. Hawthorne, Word Biblical Commentary: Philippians (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983), pg. 184.

[3] Ibid, pg. 185.

[4] Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1995), pg. 412.

Dan Knapke
Chief Operating Officer