Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Instead of guarding our own hearts, Philippians 4:6-7 makes it clear that is it the job of the peace that comes from God to guard our hearts when we go to Him in prayer and with thanksgiving. Once we submit our request to God, we can rest assured that He is not hiding His face from us (Ezekiel 39:29) and that He who has the whole world in His hands loves us so much that He is working everything together for our good.
See, prayer and petition is the way we cast our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7). It is what guards our heart and mind from worrying (anxiety) by unleashing the peace of God into our hearts. Therefore, when the bible says to ‘guard our heart for out of it flow the issues of life’, it is saying that we should guard our hearts from worrying (through prayer and thanksgiving), because worrying which comes from fear (or a lack of trust in God) causes the issues of our lives. Indeed, it is a lack of trust in God that causes us to choose the world over the word (see How Do I Guard My Heart – The Word) and so unleashes turmoil in our world
In conjunction with Part I of this two -part series, we see that the way to guard our heart is to spend time in the word, through discernment, via prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving. It is these spiritual disciplines when done in trust and surrender that allows us to walk obediently in the Spirit. They are what guard our hearts and minds from the filth of the world.
Without understanding this, the tendency is to guard our own hearts away from people out of fear. Since there is no fear in love and fear involves torment (see 1 John 4:18), it is no wonder so many people are tormented in their relationships. Let me explain:
Many times for a person – let’s say Kevin – who has been hurt before, guard your heart means ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’. If Kevin does not understand how to guard his heart with the word, prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and through discernment, then ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’ for Kevin turns into ‘scrutinize my partners every move, try to control her life, and never allow yourself to fully trust her’.
Alas for Kevin, fear-based doubt and self-preservation leads the relationship instead of love-based faith. In response, Kevin’s partner feels suffocated, controlled, and imprisoned. As a result she fights back and the relationship goes through turmoil and fails.
Kevin, not realizing his fear was the culprit of the turmoil and failure feels that he successfully protected himself from hurt. He says to himself ‘Aha, I knew she was going to hurt me’. He does not realize that he has hurt himself. He has made his worst fear come to pass by taking fear-based actions which made it so – all because he did not know what is meant to guard his heart.
In the example, Kevin thought he was protecting himself from hurt, but all he was doing was keeping himself from love.
This also applies in our relationship with God. If we do not know how to guard our hearts, we guard our heart from love (God) and so are unable to unlock the power of God over our lives.
Food for Thought: When we guard our heart, we guard love (God) right out of it. When He guards our heart, He allows love to flow right into it.