Just Pray About It?!
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7 ESV)
This is really interesting. Fascinating actually. Peter seems to tell people facing persecution and possible death for their faith in Christ to "just pray about it"! What's wild is that lots of people would say that one of their most annoying pet peeves is when someone tells you to just pray about it. We want a more tactile solution. We want a better answer. We want to take greater action. Peter will get to that. But what he gets to first is: pray. I don't know about you but that's counterintuitive to my way of thinking. And I think that's just where God wants us.
To those of us who like to leap before we look, those of us who like to get our exercise by jumping to conclusions, those of us who don't feel like we really did anything unless we do something quantifiable, Peter says calm down. In fact that's exactly what he says. Be of "sound judgment" means be sensible, in your right mind. And be "sober" literally means to abstain from wine, which by inference means not to be intoxicated by any foreign substance but be under God's control.
What is probably most interesting is that he starts by saying "the end of all things is near". Look around and it might look like the end of the world. Sometimes we over exaggerate that and think the world is ending because things didn't go our way. Peter is not talking about self-centered whining. He is talking about the literal end of the world as we know it. Peter is talking about the return of Christ. We should always think it is imminent. It's been a long time since he wrote those words but compared to eternity, it has not been so long. The end of all things is near. It has literally come near. As Galatians 4:4 tells us "when the fullness of the time came God sent forth his Son" to redeem us who are under the curse of sin. As soon as Jesus showed up on the scene, the end times were in full effect.
So, what does 1 Peter 4:7 have to do with your daily life? I think the most significant thing is that he says that in light of the end of all things being there, to be of sound judgment and sober spirit for a purpose: prayer. Literally, for prayers, that's plural. What should you be praying about? Pretty much everything in your life. Que smiley face. The very thing that often bugs us and seems to us too simple of an answer, the advice we often resent, is exactly what God wants us to do. As He says in Philippians 4:5-6 "The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
You see, the very thing you shy away from or tend to get bent out of shape about, is what God wants you to do: depend on Him above all. The time will come soon enough, and often it is instantaneous, to take action, but the first inclination of your heart ought to be stop and commit your works to the Lord, depend on Him, go first to Him in dependence; and then, and only then, take observable action. As you learn to live more fully for Jesus and the Gospel you will see that this is meant to be the pattern of our lives. As Jesus said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Peter is telling us very clearly that if we do not act with sound judgment, sensible, and in our right mind; if we are not sober in spirit, controlled by anything or anyone other than God, then our prayers will be hindered. When do we need most to be in prayer? When do we feel most keenly our need for God? Is it not in the most horrendous circumstances? In our toughest times? When the world seems to be coming to an end? So pray. Pour out your heart to God. Pray with every ounce of energy you have. Depending upon Him and not your own understanding.
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