Peace is a “fruit of the Spirit,”1 one of the special blessings the Bible promises to those who strive to live close to God. The Hebrew word translated “peace” in most English versions of the Old Testament denoted completeness, soundness, and overall well-being. The New Testament connotation is inner tranquility—a combination of hope, trust, and quiet of mind and soul.2 In this day and age, such peace can be elusive.

There’s no magic formula for attaining inner peace, but there are a few things we can do to nurture it.

Trust God

Trust doesn’t just happen. As children, we learn to trust our parents because we feel their love and benefit from their care and mature understanding of life. We trust friends who have stuck with us through thick and thin. We trust businesspeople whom we find to be honest and reliable. We trust people, in short, because of our experience with them.

It’s the same with God. The more we open our hearts to Him, the more we understand and experience His love and concern. The more we study the Bible and Bible-based materials, the better we understand life and the more we appreciate God’s wisdom and goodness. The more we take our problems to Him in prayer, the more we learn to depend on Him to help us to work them out. The better we get to know Him, the more we trust Him; and the more we trust Him, the more inner peace we have.

Go God’s way

When we think in terms of what will please God and do our best to act accordingly, we can expect His blessing. “You [God] treat us with kindness and with honor, never denying any good thing to those who live right.”3 That doesn’t mean everything will come easily or go smoothly, because hard work and troubles are part of life. It does mean, though, that we can have peace of mind even in difficult times, because God has promised us good things in the end.

Take problems to God in prayer

Turning our problems over to God in prayer benefits us in two ways. First, we get His help, which makes all the difference in the world. But it also has the extra benefit of taking the pressure off of us to work things out. “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then …God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.”4

Give troubles time

Whatever may befall us and for whatever reason, we can rest assured that God can and wants to bring about some greater good through it. Eventually, “all things work together for good to those who love God.”5 In the meantime, our faith is strengthened and we learn patience. Without either of those—faith and patience—it’s hard to be at peace. That’s why the Bible tells us to stay positive and hang in there: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”6

Let go of the past

It’s impossible to feel at peace with ourselves or God as long as we’re still carrying the burden of past mistakes. We can repent a thousand times and do penance until hell freezes over, but we won’t experience genuine peace until we fully accept the fact that God forgave us for every wrong the instant we asked Him to. We say, “I’m too bad.” God says, “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”7 “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”8

View adversity as opportunity

In her book Gratitude: A Way of Life, Louise L. Hay wrote: “No matter what is happening around us, we can choose to respond in a way that will help us learn and grow. When we look at our difficulties as opportunities for growth, then we can be grateful for the lessons we are learning from these difficult experiences. There is always a gift in every experience. Expressing gratitude allows us to find it.”

When we adopt that mindset, we put problems in perspective, free ourselves from the negativity they conjure up, and find peace.

Cultivate contentment

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”9 Who doesn’t like the sound of “great gain”? It’s “godliness” and “contentment” that people tend to misinterpret and get hung up on.

“Godliness” isn’t a matter of piety or perfection. It isn’t a sinless state, but a lifelong process; it’s recognizing that we’re not nearly as much like Him as we should be and asking Him to make us better.

And “contentment” isn’t a matter of feigning happiness or resigning ourselves to the way things are when they aren’t as they should be; it’s a matter of loving God and trusting Him for the outcome. It’s “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”10

Take time for quiet reflection

“Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Let [Him] create within you a holy atmosphere, a holy, heavenly light‚ in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.”11 In those quiet moments, God is able to renew your spirit and also make you more like Himself.12

Be grateful

Counting our blessings puts us on a positive channel. It doesn’t solve all our problems, but it takes our focus off of the things that upset and unsettle us. “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”13

Deepen your personal relationship with Jesus

In Jesus’ farewell to His disciples, knowing that He was about to be arrested and crucified, He told them, “These things have I spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”14 The better you get to know Jesus by asking Him to come into your heart, reading His Word, especially the Gospels, and by interacting with Him through prayer and reflection, the more you will be convinced that He and His Father have everything under control, no matter how things may appear on the surface.

  1. See Galatians 5:22–23.
  2. Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers
  3. Psalm 84:11 CEV
  4. Philippians 4:6–7 CEV
  5. Romans 8:28
  6. James 1:2–4
  7. Isaiah 43:25 NLT
  8. Romans 5:1
  9. 1 Timothy 6:6
  10. Philippians 1:6
  11. Andrew Murray (1828–1917), South African writer and pastor
  12. See Ephesians 4:23; 2 Corinthians 3:18.
  13. Philippians 4:8
  14. John 16:33