I struggle with prayer. It’s some comfort, I suppose, to understand that others do as well. A recent story about renowned preacher Sinclair Ferguson illustrates that even those who seem to be mature Christian leaders feel that they have lots to learn when it comes to prayer.
When it comes to praying more, I wonder if we start at the wrong end of the problem. We want to pray more. Good! That is admirable. But we shouldn’t begin there. Our efforts to pray more fall flat, and it isn’t long before we are just as discouraged as before. The cycle of good intentions leading to failure and guilt is not one that leads to the prayer life we desire.
What if there is a prerequisite to prayer? That seems to be what Peter teaches in 1 Peter 4:7:
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)
Peter could have said, “The end of all things is at hand; pray more!” but he doesn’t. He instead instructs us to develop a self-controlled and sober-minded mindset that leads to prayer. Before we can pray, we need a mindset that leads us to prayer. We need to sober up. It's the prerequisite to a good prayer life.
Sobering up means that we see reality as it really is; that we recognize that time is short; that we give up any thoughts of trying to live or serve apart from the enablement that only God can offer. I confessed to our church last weekend that I am in the process of “sobering up” when it comes to prayer. Rather than beginning with a deeper resolve to pray, I’m beginning with thinking in a self-controlled and sober-minded way that should cultivate a life of prayer.
It’s time to sober up and deal with the prerequisite to a good prayer life. Will you join me