A Prayer for the Peace of God

June 16, 2017

As a pastor I have known believers so ill or distraught they couldn’t concentrate enough to grasp Paul’s conditions for peace in booklet form, so I put them in a peace prayer. If you are seeking God’s peace, I invite you to pray this prayer with me.

Heavenly Father, You tell us in Your Word that You can keep us in a state of perfect personal peace if we meet Your conditions for that state of peace. Because I seek this peace in my life, give me the wisdom to worry about nothing and the faith to pray about everything. May I receive from You the mental discipline to think about all the good things and the integrity to do all the right things.

May I always have that incurable optimism that believes in goodness, and give me such an insight into what You have been doing and what You are now doing in my life and in my world that I will give thanks always and in all things. May I never try to push You or run before You, but always wait on You, experiencing and expressing the gentleness and patience that are the evidence of Your Spirit living in me.

As I sort out my priorities, may I always value Your approval of who and what I am and what I do, and not walk before others to be seen by them or to please them. Never let me forget how near You are to me as I draw near to You, worshiping and enjoying You each day and forever.

And finally, Father, realizing that it is not who I am, but who You are that is important; acknowledging that it is not what I can do, but what You can do that really matters; agreeing that it should never be what I want, but always what You want; and remembering that in the final analysis it will not be what I did, but what You did that will have lasting eternal results, give me that absolute trust in You and total dependence on You that will truly rest my heart and my mind in Christ.

Enable me to meet these conditions for personal peace in the name of Jesus Christ, for my peace and for Your glory. Amen.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace

Editor’s Note: This concludes excerpts from my Papa’s Peace booklet. The blog posting elf will now return to regularly random blog selections of his writings. May the peace of Jesus Christ be with you, now & forever!


12th Condition for Peace: Believe in God’s Goodness

June 13, 2017

“…if you believe in goodness…” (Philippians 4:8)

As a young social worker I visited an elderly couple who had spent 50 years as missionaries in China. They were in poor health and living in indigent welfare housing. As these dear white-haired saints (who were what I consider spiritual nobility), reflected on what they had to show for their time of sacrificial service, they were beginning to doubt the value of all the good they had done for Jesus.

I shared this part of Paul’s peace prescription with them. Paul teaches here that our good works are not always rewarded in this life, but all good works of believers will be rewarded in the eternal state. (ICorinthians 3:11-15)

Paul certainly could have identified with this couple who realized their ‘welcome home’ would be waiting in heaven. From the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul completely dedicated himself to the work of Jesus. What did that get him? Prison after prison, each one worse than the last; most were foul smelling dungeons. And yet, he writes that he experienced peace and joy.

When Paul writes, “If you believe in goodness…,” I am convinced he is focusing on the lifetime of goodness faithful servants have invested for the Lord.

Discouraged servants of God are tempted by the evil one to doubt the worth of good they have done. This part of Paul’s prescription addresses this peace thief. He would spare spiritual servants of Jesus the loss of peace we may suffer if we forget, that even though we may not be rewarded for faithful service in this life, our reward is waiting in the eternal state.

We are to value the approval of God in this life and be certain of His approval in the life to come.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


11th Condition for Peace: JOY!

June 9, 2017

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in him at all times.” (Philippians 4:4)

“Pain and suffering are inevitable, misery is optional.” These are the words of Tim Hansel, a man who lived every day with excruciating pain. How can misery be optional for someone in agonizing pain? And why does Paul mention joy 17 times in the short letter he wrote from prison to his favorite church?

When we experience a relationship with the risen, living Christ there is a peace and joy that is not controlled by circumstances. The peace Paul prescribes doesn’t make sense because it “transcends human understanding.” According to Paul, the foundation of our peace is finding joy in Jesus Himself. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and find peace and joy in Him at all times.

What is the foundation of your serenity and joy? If your foundation is relationships with loved ones, do you realize there is no relationship with people here in this life that cannot be removed? If it’s your health or athleticism, I can bear witness to the sad reality that is a fragile foundation. Many thousands of people who had a physical orientation around which their lives revolved before age, illness or injury destroyed them, will join me in warning you that health and physical abilities are fragile foundations for peace and joy.

Jesus commended Mary when she upset her sister Martha by sitting at His feet and listening to His Word rather than help with dinner preparations. With as much love for Martha as He had for Mary, Jesus said to Martha, “Mary has chosen the good part that will never be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

When Paul tells us to find our joy in the Lord, he is agreeing with what Jesus told Martha by directing us to build the foundations for our peace and joy in Jesus Christ.

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times!”

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace


10th Condition for Peace: Christ within us

June 6, 2017

“…never forget the nearness of your Lord.” (Philippians 4:5)

When Paul experienced his last horrible imprisonment in Rome, visiting him was dangerous. Roman guards might chain you up if you came to see him. And nobody did. Paul writes: “They all forsook me. May God not lay it to their charge.” But he also writes: “Nevertheless the Lord stood by me and ministered to me.” (2 Timothy 4:16-17)

Paul has a relationship with the risen Christ. This is always his explanation for the dynamic of his life. He writes: “Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace all the time and in every way.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16) In the upper room discourse, Jesus shared: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you.” (John 14:27) Paul knows that Christ Who lives in us will give us, and keep us, in a state of perpetual peace.

As a by-product of Paul’s relationship with Christ, he can write, “I am ready for anything through the strength of the One Who lives within me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Jesus was speaking about a relationship with God when He taught: “Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10 Amplified Bible)

Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking. Open the door of your life wider and invite Christ into the center of every meaningful area of your life.

“Never forget the nearness of the presence of the Lord.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


9th Condition for Peace: Gentleness

June 2, 2017

“…have a reputation for gentleness…”  (Philippians 4:5)

When Paul writes of gentleness, he does not mean milquetoast weakness. The Greek word for gentleness used here actually means meekness. Meekness is not weakness. Biblical meekness is closer in meaning to tameness. When a powerful stallion finally takes the bit and yields to the control of bridle and rider, it is not weak. That powerful animal could be described as “strength under control.” That is what biblical meekness means.

When Saul of Tarsus met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Jesus asked him “Why are you persecuting Me? It is so hard for you.” The original language actually means, “It is hard for you to pull against the bit. It is tearing up your mouth.” When Paul asked his great question, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” he took the bit of Christ and became meek.

Gentleness is also listed as one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Another way of describing this concept is acceptance and unconditional surrender. The well-known serenity prayer then becomes an expression of this peace condition:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

In Romans 8:28, Paul is not suggesting that everything that happens to those who love God is good. There may be nothing good at all about many things that happen to us. His claim simply is that God can fit everything into a pattern of good, if we love God and are called according to His purposes.

Paul teaches us by example that we must accept the will of God until we are so meek we experience gentleness. He says, “I am ready for anything through the strength of the One Who lives within me.” (Philippians 4:13) Paul learned that it is safe to surrender unconditionally to our loving God. Therefore, gentleness and meekness prescribe acceptance to the will of God, one circumstance at a time.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


8th Condition for Peace: Be Patient!

May 30, 2017

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be.” (Philippians 4:11)

Paul includes patience as part of his prescription for peace. Throughout the history of the church, patience has been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights like Augustine, Thomas à Kempis and Francis of Assisi. Why is patience such an important virtue? For starters, patience is one of the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit profiled in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Throughout the Bible we are continuously exhorted to “wait on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) In our relationship with God we might call patience faith-waiting. Nothing will test and grow our faith like waiting on the Lord. When we are praying for something and receiving no answer, God may be teaching us that there are times when faith waits.

In our relationships with people, patience can be called love-waiting. I had no idea how selfish I am until I got married. I had no idea how impatient I am until I became a father waiting for teenage children to grow up. I find the Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in us: vertical patience, by teaching us to have a faith that waits on God, and horizontal patience, by teaching us that in relationships, love waits.  Love is the primary virtue through which the Holy Spirit wants to express the life of God through us.

While impatience is a peace thief, vertical and horizontal patience are supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit that give us the grace to accept the things we cannot control. Patience is the virtue God plants and grows in our lives while teaching us to wait on God and trust God to do what only God can do about those things we cannot control.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


7th Condition for Peace: Be Thankful

May 26, 2017

“Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

Observe that Paul prescribed “earnest and thankful prayer.” Do you know what thankful prayer is? My definition of thankful prayer is grateful worship. I have found effective peace therapy in a litany of thanksgiving that has evolved in my devotional life over the last thirty years of praying through Paul’s peace prescription while accepting the hard reality of limitations.

When we’re thankful, we automatically move our minds from the negative to the positive issues in our lives. When suffering from a condition or illness that is causing us to lose our faculties one by one, we have two choices: we can continuously think about what we’ve lost, or are losing, or we can think about what we still have and be thankful.

As I experienced the loss of my physical ability, I have personally found that I get more mileage out of this condition for peace than any of Paul’s other conditions. I have so many blessings for which to be thankful. I discover regularly that when I begin to focus on my blessings, the peace of God is in place. As I think of all the problems I have because nothing works from my neck down, mentally I put those challenges on one side of a scale, while on the other side I place my blessings. I always find that the good stuff far outweighs my bad stuff – and the peace of God returns.

I highly recommend this thanksgiving therapy, which is a vital part of Paul’s prescription for peace.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace