When an unfit person begins a weight loss journey, their first exercise experience will leave them feeling refreshed and happy due to the release of endorphins (the chemical that triggers a positive feeling) in the body but this does not make the person fit. The person is still unfit regardless of the feeling they have at the moment.
It is the same with prayer – Someone who has no relationship with God, who despises His Word and lives against the provisions of the Bible may engage in prayer and feel some kind of peace within them. This is because prayer is a spiritual exercise with its own immediate benefits of calmness but this doesn’t necessarily mean God is with the person.
“Do not be anxious about anything—but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the shalom of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7
When we give thanks and earnestly pray to God, we have the peace (shalom) of God but how do we have the God of peace himself with us?
Paul says shortly after:
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—put these things into practice, and the God of shalom will be with you.”Philippians 4:9
Only when we practice what we learn in His Word do we have the God of peace with us.
This should not be mistaken. It’s one thing to have the peace of God with us. It is another when we Jehovah Sabaoth as Jehovah Shalom with us.
Would you just rather have that ‘automatic’ peace which comes from an exercise – a feeling that could easily fade or would you have the God of peace who assures, “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”?
The NLT Study Bible commentary aptly puts it:
“It’s not enough to hear or read the Word of God or even to know it well. We must also put what God is teaching us into practice. How easy it is to listen to a sermon and forget what the preacher said. How easy it is to read the Bible and not think about how to live differently. How easy it is to debate what a passage means and not live out that meaning. Exposure to God’s Word is not enough. It must lead to obedience.”
So, the ‘peace’ of God or the God Himself who gives all things? Which would you have? The latter by far surpasses any other condition but it is dependent on one thing and that, obedience to His Word.