Every so often when I am sitting in prayerful contemplation, an image captures my attention. Sometimes it is an actual object that I am physically looking at, like a cross on my desk or a bird in the sky or a tree branch blowing in the wind. Other times it is something I see in my mind’s eye.
And usually, as I reflect upon whatever it is, I can sense and receive what I understand to be thoughts, insights, and experiences from God himself.
Writing a book was never really a goal of mine. Vocationally, I have always self-identified as preacher first, content to read what other people have written.
But three years into pastoring my church in South Louisiana, I experienced a dynamic shift in my prayer life. I discovered an approach to prayer that was a bit foreign to me, but once I experienced it I couldn’t get enough. This shift in prayer set me on a course that began to slowly transform my marriage, my parenting, and my approach to life and ministry.
Not long after, I decided to begin teaching the people in my church what I was discovering about prayer. Every couple months or so, I began hosting “prayer workshops” in my living room. I would take 8-12 people at a time and teach about prayer for three hours on a Saturday morning.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
As modern Western Christians when we read the word “peace” in the Bible we build a fence around it. We shrink it down to size. We define it as “inner peace.” “Emotional peace.” “Spiritual peace.” “Peace of mind.” “Peace in my heart.”
Undoubtedly, Jesus gives us all of those things. But if that’s all we think of, we are limiting the biblical concept of peace in a way that is not warranted in Scripture and is not endorsed by Jesus.
In a world that is drunk on hatred and hostility, it is the kingdom of Jesus Christ that brings peace. Shalom. The prophets talked about it incessantly as a recurrent theme. Here’s just one familiar example.
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.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Peace among hostile groups. Peace among the nations. World peace.
It’s the wish of dippy beauty queens. But it’s also the dream of the prophets.