Above My Pay Grade

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 6:6)

Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance ... it is laying hold of his highest willingness.

--Richard Trench

Rachel was about 2 months pregnant with our oldest child on September 11, 2001.  This means that I haven't yet had to explain that awful day to any of my children.  So far they are blissfully unaware of evil and tragedy of that scope.  I remember that there was a lot on the news shows about how to talk to kids about it.  But it still seems like it would be a difficult task.

Author and preacher Erwin McManus talks about having to explain 9/11 to his children, then 13 and 9:

"...I remember sitting down with our kids. Now, I knew what I wanted to tell them. I wanted to tell them that old cliché-the safest place to be is in the center of the will of God. Haven't you heard that? The safest place to be is in the center of the will of God. It's so beautiful. It's just so unbiblical.

I wanted to tell them, "Look, we're Christians. We're followers of Jesus Christ, so this would never happen to us. We're on the other side of the country. It's really, really far away. If you'll just walk with Christ, you don't have anything to worry about." In fact, what I wanted to do was give them a good, old, Christian lie.

But I knew that I had to tell them the truth. And so I told my children that morning that what we learned is that we have no control over when we die, or even how we die, but what we have control over is how we live."

Is it really any different with anyone?  When faced with tragedy, don't we want to tell each other that "everything will be OK," or "God wouldn't let that happen to us?"  Never mind that Jesus assured his followers that they would face troubles in this world (John 16:33).  It's still tempting to seek consolation in false notions of safety.

But Paul suggests another route to courage--one that doesn't seek to avoid pain or troubles.  As we'll see this morning, Paul points to the power of prayer in living a courageous life.

That's a dangerous phrase: "the power of prayer."  It's open to significant misunderstanding.  So today we'll look more closely at the power of prayer.  We'll seek to understand how such prayer can bring with it a "peace that passes all understanding."  I hope you'll get a glimpse of that peace this morning.