Summary: When it comes to praying for peace, we do not have to pray the way world wants us to pray; we can use Biblical models which are much more effective.
The terror attack in Madrid today raises our consciousness once again to the undercurrent of war and destruction which continue to flow throughout the world. Today’s events also remind Christians everywhere of the need for serious prayer. We need (more than any other time) to pray for peace.
But I ask you; how is a Christian to pray? That may be an easy question for the average Christian. But it is problematic for the Christian who believes in the second coming of Christ and who does not gloss over all the signs the Bible predicts will accompany that event. Since we know that violence and war and terror are the very signs that shall usher in the Kingdom of God and the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, how can we keep on praying for these temporary truces between nations which at best seem like a joke and which (in fact) merely exacerbate the problem? How can we keep on praying for peace among nations, when we know that God’s plan calls for sudden destruction to come upon the earth? Shall we presume to pray away the inevitability of Biblical eschatology? I think not.
What we can do is to pray for harmony to be restored in the souls of the many who are despairing in this war torn world of ours. We can intercede for our fellow travelers. We can start with the Lord’s prayer....”Thy kingdom come...” and then, we can articulate our prayer for peace after the model of our beloved Saint Paul as he prayed for his Thessalonian brothers and sisters, “Now the Lord of peace, himself, give you peace always, by all means. The Lord be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
This is a model prayer for us. But it is more than that. Paul weaves into the fabric of this prayer, a revelation of Jesus Christ whose person and character assure us that our petition will be granted. In this prayer Jesus is revealed to be the LORD OF PEACE.
What does that mean? It means that he is the:
1. PRESIDER OF PEACE
There are many who have presided over peace sessions over the years. Some have secured peace treaties. A few have even won peace awards. Not too long ago, a former president won the “Nobel Peace Prize”. We commend him and others for their achievements.
But in Jesus, we have one who is more effective. He is not simply a presider at peace sessions; he is the presider of peace itself. He is not just the author of peace treaties; he is the author of peace itself.
When we pray to Jesus for peace, we do not have to rely on one who only hopes for peace. We do not have to depend on one who merely negotiates, arbitrates, or compromises for peace. When we pray to Jesus for peace, we rely on one who is able to command peace.
Isaiah declared him to be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Paul addresses him in the prayer I just mentioned as the LORD of Peace. Luke records that he calmed the wind and the waves of the sea.
Certainly we have a sure answer to our prayer for peace in the presider of peace.
Paul’s prayer further reveals the Lord to be the:
2. PRESENTER OF OUR PEACE
How distressing it would be if peace came only through our laborious efforts. I dare say we would never obtain it. It is therefore a blessed thought when we recognize that Jesus Christ is the presenter of our peace! Paul declares, “Now the Lord of peace himself GIVE you peace.” You see, this prayer indicates that peace is a gift from God!
Now, there is a peace we must labor for. Jesus promised a blessing to the peacemakers. The suffix “maker” implies labor. So when it comes to peace with our brother or sister, we must work for that kind of peace.
But the harmony of our soul cannot be attained as a result of our efforts. Indeed, it seems that the harder we try to reach for this inner peace, the more it evades our grasp. It is, then, a great joy when we realize that God gives us this inner peace as a free gift.
That joy is further enhanced when we realize it is the Lord who personally presents this gift to us. Paul prays: “Now the Lord of peace, HIMSELF, give you peace”
When I was a child, I was delighted when my grandma sent me a package in the mail. I was far more delighted on those few occasions when my grandma came to the house and presented those gifts to me personally. The personal touch made all the difference in the world to me. And now when I am on the receiving end of God’s peace, the fact that he dispenses his gifts to each of us personally is a great comfort to me.