Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
If we liken our requests of God to the requests a child has of a parent, there is a certain pattern we might think we see. Think back to your own childhood, and you should see a logical timeline to the process. You asked mom or dad for something, you begged and pleaded and made sure to say please, then you waited. Sometimes they said yes right away, and other times there was a much longer period of deliberation. Either way, you probably did not thank the giver until you received the gift. That just makes sense. However, if we look at the instruction in this passage, there seems to be a rearrangement in that timeline. It is during our course of asking and before ever receiving that we are to express a thankful heart.
There are several different ways we can view the reason to have a thankful heart before actually receiving anything. One view is that we should be thankful to God for all we have received and will receive regardless of how this specific prayer is answered. Another view is that we should be thankful to him just for the grace He shows in even hearing our prayers. A third view is that we approach God in prayer with the discernment that we are asking only for his will and, in turn, we have faith that his will surely will come to pass. It is a prayer in faith not for a possibility but for certain provision, and that approach brings us peace. Instead of wondering whether God will answer in the affirmative and trying to come up with a Plan B just in case, we ask from a place of confidence and let the peace of Christ wash over us as the sign of a prayer according to his will.
Approaching prayer from a place of understanding that the purpose behind prayer is to call forth the will of God on earth requires that we hone our discernment in order to know that will. When we learn his character and become sensitive to the Spirit, then we will know his prompting in prayer. The peace of Christ comes from knowing instead of guessing in our prayer lives, and that is a big difference. Jesus taught us to pray by asking for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven because that is the key to prayer. When our desires and our compassion are in line with his, our prayers bring peace because we know simply to wait in faith for them to be fulfilled. Father, thank You for the peace of Christ that comes over us in prayer, which is our confirmation that we have sought your will and not ours.