From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Eight, Day Three
Who hasn't longed for peace, living in a world that is so often full of strife? The Hebrew word for peace, however, means much more than the absence of conflict or the end of turmoil. Shalom conveys not only a sense of tranquility but also of wholeness and completion. To enjoy shalom is to enjoy health, satisfaction, success, safety, well-being, and prosperity. Though the New Testament does not directly call Jesus the Prince of Peace, this title from Isaiah has traditionally been associated with him as the One who brings peace to the world. Furthermore, Paul assured the Ephesian Christians saying of Jesus, "He himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). When you pray to Sar Shalom, you are praying to the One who is the source of all peace. To live in peace is to live in his presence.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Praying the Name
The fruit of righteousness
will be peace;
the effect of righteousness
will be quietness and confidence
will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8 - 9
Praise God: For showing us the path to peace.
Offer Thanks: For the peace you have enjoyed.
Confess: Any tendency to rationalize behaviors that transgress God's law.
Ask God: To make you someone who spreads peace, not chaos.
Five years ago, we bought a house in a charming area of the city, full of older homes, tenderly cared for. The streets are wide and peaceful, lined with trees that have grown strong over decades. The neighborhood is tight-knit and so friendly that it feels as though we are living in a time warp, back in the tranquil 1950s.
That perception shattered one sultry summer night. It took a while to clear the sleep from my head after I heard the noise. Three o'clock in the morning — I could see the digital readout on the clock. Had I dreamt that loud bang or had something happened? I closed my eyes and rolled over, too tired to draw a conclusion. Then I heard groans coming from the street below. Stumbling out of bed, I stood at the open window, staring down. A minivan lay crumpled against a tree directly across the street. Soon the darkness was punctuated by sirens and flashing lights. Two young men were placed on stretchers and bundled into an ambulance. A third screamed in pain as firemen used the "Jaws of Life" to extricate him from the vehicle, mangling the passenger door in the process. That night I prayed for the injured with silent anguish, standing next to neighbors who had gathered on the street.
We learned the next day that the van had been stolen. The three young thieves had come careening the wrong way down our one-way street at God-knows-what speed. They hadn't had seat belts on and one was thrown onto the street while another was tossed around in the back compartment of the car. Only the tree had kept the car from ramming into my neighbor's house. Fortunately, though the three were banged up, they would recover. But what if they had killed themselves or someone else? What if the accident had occurred in the middle of the day with young children playing outside? It wasn't the first time a car had been stolen in our neighborhood. Suddenly our beautiful treelined street no longer seemed like the safe enclave we thought it was.
A year later, the only sign that anything unusual happened on our street was the large bare patch on the tree where the bark was ripped off. So far it shows no signs of healing. Perhaps it will stay that way, a reminder that evil, despite its allure, is essentially stupid. Pursuing our impulses regardless of God's instructions is like throwing ourselves headlong into a tree.
You and I may never be tempted to go joyriding, but what about other temptations — like stretching the truth to gain an advantage, or constantly yelling at our kids, or flirting with someone else's spouse, or spending more money than we have, or spouting off just because we feel like it? What happens when these behaviors become commonplace in our society — in businesses, churches, government, and media? Inevitably, such moral failures will diminish the peace. Sometimes they will even destroy it.
God has already shown us the path of peace. We need to walk in it and pursue it with all our hearts, remembering the counsel of the prophet Isaiah, who reminds us that "the fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever" (Isaiah 32:17).
Take some time today to pray for yourself and for your neighbors. Ask Christ to work in all hearts so that all may experience his peace.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.