Philippians 4:5-9 NLT
I never read the book (or saw the movie) Eat, Pray, Love. I actually recently took a poll with some of my friends to ask if it was worth the listen on Audible. I have to admit that even now, ten years after it was first published, the title still entices me. Any memoir that instructs me to eat, pray and love to find a better life, I’m here for it. Reading through Philippians, though, I stumbled across what I consider to be Paul’s formula for living a God-filled (read, fantastic) life: Pray, Think, Do.
In Philippians 4:5-7, Paul is writing to the church at Philippi, giving them instructions on how to conduct themselves in his absence. He encourages them that God is near and that they don’t have to worry or be overly anxious about their lives. And neither should we. We should pray instead, he says, giving thanks for what we have and asking God for what we want and need. When we do this, we can expect the peace of God to envelop us. So the first step is to pray. “God, I thank you for blessing me with two wonderful kids. I pray that you would help me figure out how to make them go to sleep at bedtime without having to bribe them with promises of breakfast treats in the morning. Amen.” Ah, I feel the peace coming now.
Then, in Philippians 4:8, Paul instructs the church on how they should be thinking. If something is true, noble, right and pure, he says, then they should think about that thing. I admittedly add my own interpretive spin to this portion of Paul’s writing. In the plan for living, I think Paul’s directive on our thoughts also means that we should think, as in formulate a plan of action, for our lives or a specific area of our life that we have been praying to God about. Here is our second instruction: think. Because my kids take so freakin’ long to fall asleep, maybe I should put them down earlier, so they still get a decent amount of sleep at night. This may very well be easier said than done, but remember, I’m still thinking here.
And then finally, in Philippians 4:9, Paul admonishes the church at Philippi that whatever they have learned from him–whether they saw him do it or heard him say it, they should follow his godly example and do those things, too. Thus, we have our third and final instruction: Do. It’s taking everything in me not to insert some corny line that includes the Nike slogan, so let’s just move right right along, shall we? The most important part of the equation (according to James 1:22-25), we have to follow through on the plan that we created while we were thinking. We have to act. Tomorrow evening I won’t scroll through my IG feed while running the kids’ bath water or warming up their food. I will not lock myself in the bathroom (where they can’t get to me) so that I can rummage through my FB feed in peace. I will have a focused, streamlined evening routine so that the children can get their little tails in the bed earlier.
And there you have it: Pray, Think, Do. Thanks Paul. And also, Jesus. (This example may or may not have been taken from my real life. All names and references were changed to protect the innocent. But not really.)