Many decades ago, one of my college friends gave me a small picture that has meant a great deal to me. There is nothing remarkable about it from an artistic standpoint, but it has given me great comfort during some important times nonetheless. In fact, not long ago, I asked the Lord for direction about a difficult situation. I felt very alone. Confused and unable to discuss my difficulties with others, I got down on my knees in a quiet room and cried out to God to help me, strengthen me, and change the situation that was causing me pain. I asked, “Father, please don’t leave me like this. Show me what to do.”
As I was praying, I looked up, and there was that picture. In it, the Lord Jesus is standing behind a young man, pointing out the right course for the fellow to take. The Master’s hand is on his shoulder, as if saying,
I am with you always. — Matthew 28:20
This is the way, walk in it. — Isaiah 30:21
In that instant, God showed me that He was in complete control of the situation and that He would help me get to the destination He planned for me. Like the young man in the picture, I needed to stay focused on the path that the Master was pointing me to. And if I would obey Him — even when the road seemed dark — He would certainly bless my faith in Him.
I tell you this because, inevitably, there will be times in your life when you just don’t know what to do. You may feel overwhelmed by the questions that plague you and shut down — becoming paralyzed and unable to move forward. Or perhaps you lie awake at night, consumed by the details of your circumstances and rehearsing them repeatedly in the hope of making some sense of them. Either way, you feel trapped, because you have no idea how to proceed.
You will feel as if your anxiety is tearing you apart. And that is what fear does — it scatters your thoughts, pulling you in different directions with all the “what ifs.” But this stands in direct opposition to what the Father desires for you.
I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. — John 16:33
Peace. It is a word that in the Greek means “joined or bound together.” For example, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, we can have peace — or be united — with Him and be fully reconciled to the Father (Colossians 1:20).
However, peace also means an internal sense of harmony and tranquility. Everything within us is calm — confident “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). It is Jesus’ goal that we would possess the inward composure that comes from having a personal relationship with Him and enjoying His provision. And He has given us the gift of prayer for this purpose.
Philippians 4:6-7 promises,
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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6-7
The word there for guard means to “garrison you about, hem you in, and protect by a military sentinel.” As you exercise the gift of prayer and walk with God, He encompasses you as your Protector and Provider — and no one can break through His defenses. The Father encircles you with His own matchless presence, and the only way anything can get to you is if He Himself opens the door and allows it. That is the greatest security you and I could ever ask for.
Do you need peace in some area? Are you facing a situation that is confusing — that is tearing you apart? Do you lack a clear course of action?
Jesus knows exactly what you really need and how to provide it in the most loving and edifying way possible. He is committed to seeing you become all He created you to be.
Jesus’ hand is on your shoulder, and He’s pointing you in the right direction — the right path for your life. Are you listening to Him and submitting to His guidance? Or are you living your life the way you want to — in your wisdom rather than His?
All of us need a reliable guide to instruct us, and none is more trustworthy than the Savior who laid down His life on our behalf. But perhaps you are unsure — can you truly trust the Lord with the situation that is currently causing you so much stress and anxiety? Here are two reasons why I am confident you can and should.
The first reason trusting Jesus to guide you will bring you peace is because you know He will never lead you astray. As I said previously, His character is above reproach. His comprehension of all things past, present, and future is beyond compare. He not only has the wisdom to counsel you, but He loves you and always has your best interest at heart. Deuteronomy 31:8 promises,
The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
God will never mislead or abandon you, no matter what decision you must make. He will direct you in the best path possible if you will follow Him. If that doesn’t give you peace, I don’t know what will!
Second, trusting Jesus to guide you will bring you peace because He is leading you on a road that is unique to you. This world offers many one-size-fits-all solutions to our problems, and often they do not work or cause even more damage. But Jesus’ knowledge of you is perfect — He understands your personality, strengths, weaknesses, joys, sorrows, needs, temptations, desires, and concerns. Also, He created you for a distinctive purpose. Ephesians 2:10 explains,
We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
When the Lord formed you, there were special assignments He planned for you to accomplish, which are tailor-made for your giftedness and temperament. Your being is satisfied, finds meaning, and is fulfilled in knowing Him and achieving those purposes.
This all means that the road you are to take must be specially crafted for you — specific to your makeup and to the reasons you were created as you were. This is why it is so important for God to set your course — because only your Lord and Savior knows your true potential, how to overcome the dangers ahead, and how to arrive at your destination in the safest and most effective way possible. And this is why His leadership should give you peace — He knows exactly what you really need and how to provide it in the most loving and edifying way possible. He is invested in you and is committed to seeing you become all He created you to be.
In Psalm 32:8, He promises,
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Will you trust Him to do so? I hope you will. He knows exactly where you are, what you need to do in the situation you’re facing, and how to get you to the wonderful destination He’s planned for you. He is your Protector and Provider and has everything necessary to get you to the goal even when the path seems impossible. Only the Lord can meet those high standards that can ensure your peace.
Pray to Him and trust Him to be your leader in every situation, because surely He will bless you with His peace that transcends understanding as you follow Him.
Lord God, thank You so much for always being with me — for never leaving or abandoning me. I am so grateful that You are leading me through this great gift of prayer. Like a loving Father or a gentle Shepherd, You direct me on the path I need to take — to drive out sin, heal my wounds, develop my gifts, build my character, and teach me more about You. Thank You, Lord.
You encompass me as my perfect Protector and Provider — and no one can break through Your defenses. You guide me with Your hand on my shoulder and encircle me with Your own matchless presence. I thank You that the only way anything can get to me is if You allow it for my ultimate edification and benefit. What great tranquility that gives my heart — that all things will work together for my good!
You keep me secure in Your steadfast, unending, unshakable love. Thank You, Lord! There is no peace like the peace You give, Lord Jesus! In Your matchless name I pray. Amen.
Excerpted with permission from The Gift of Prayer by Charles Stanley, copyright Charles F. Stanley.
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With prayer we have an incredible connection with God Himself! His hand is on your shoulder, guiding you, leading you, protecting you, shielding you, trading your anxiety for His peace. He will never lead you astray. ~ Devotionals Daily