Why should Christians be self-controlled and sober-minded for our prayers? When we pray for others, who benefits?

1 Peter 4:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The end of all things has drawn near; therefore be sound in mind[1] and be sober-minded[2] in prayers.

4:7. All the major events in God’s plan for redemption have occurred, and all things are now ready for Jesus Christ to return and rule. Therefore connects this doctrinal word to the behavioral and ethical consequences that ought to be demonstrated in the believer’s life and in the life of the church. One of the proofs of being a Christian is not simply having a hope for the future; the proof is having a hope that makes a difference in our lives today, in the present. As we live in the expectation of the second coming of Christ, some things need to take priority in our lives.

First on this list of priorities is purposeful prayer. Such prayer must be clear minded and self-controlled. To “be clear minded” suggests that believers pray intelligently or that they think about and evaluate their situations in life maturely and correctly as they begin to pray about them. In light of the context, perhaps Peter was cautioning them against giving way to eschatological frenzy and panic. To be “self-controlled” as one comes to prayer suggests that believers are to pray with a mind that is focused and alert. In other words, prayer should not be practiced nonchalantly or flippantly. Believers are to take prayer seriously.[3]

Peter under inspiration informs us that we need to “Be sound in mindand be sober-minded in prayers.” What type of prayers should we be offering more often? Why do Christians need to pray often? When we pray for others, who benefits?

If anyone has ever worked what Americans refer to as the night shift (11:00 pm to 7:00 am), they know that daybreak, just as the Sun rises at the beginning of a new day, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay awake. The apostle Paul warned Timothy, “Realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.” (2 Tim. 3:1) Christians have been living in the last days since 33 C.E.[4] On this verse Knute Larson writes, “The ‘last days’ is not some future event to which we look. It is now, Jesus Christ initiated this epoch, and it will continue uninterrupted until his return. Paul defined this expansive time period as “terrible.” God’s extravagant grace also characterizes this era, establishing salvation and the church. But these days unleash Satan’s wild attempts to destroy and undermine God’s redemptive intentions. In giving us this information, Paul desired that believers maintain a readiness of spirit and life. The battle will rage. What each believer must decide is whether he will prepare for the promised difficulties or given to personal safety and comfort.”[5]

Like that “night shift” worker, Christians are entering the daybreak of the last days, just before the Sun rises at the beginning of a new era. They have long dealt with the darkness of Satan’s wicked world. (Rom. 13:12) Imagine falling asleep just before the end, just before the last hour. This is why we need to “Be sound in mindand be sober-minded in prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:7) Considering where we are on God’s timetable, we must have self-control over ourselves. On the one hand, we do not want to be in a stupor from the long night of work, nor do we want to be in an “eschatological frenzy and panic,” because we feel the end is nigh. As any night shift worker knows, the last hour can seem to drag on forever, which heightens the anticipation that the end of the shift is near. We need to be sound in mind, that is, to have to understand about practical matters and thus be able to act sensibly, ‘to have sound judgment, to be sensible, to use good sense, sound judgment.’ We need to be sober-minded in prayers, namely, to be in control of one’s thought processes and thus not be in danger of irrational thinking, ‘to be sober-minded, to be well composed in mind.’ On 1 Peter 4:7, Thomas R. Schreiner writes,

4:7 The previous paragraph ended with a reference to the final judgment (v. 5), death, and the resurrection (v. 6). Hence, it is not surprising that v. 7 opens with a reference to the end of history. The words “all things” (pantōn) could be translated “all people,” but in this context “all things” makes better sense, being placed at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis.[6] The reason the end is near is that the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ have inaugurated the last days (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11; 1 John 2:18). In the New Testament the theme that the end of history is imminent is often sounded (Rom 13:11–12; Phil 4:5; Heb. 10:23–25; Jas 5:7–8; Rev 1:3; 22:10). All the following exhortations in this paragraph draw an inference from the coming of the end. See the “therefore” (oun) in the middle of v. 7. Because the end is near, believers should live in the following way.

We have a typical feature of New Testament eschatology here. Nowhere does the New Testament encourage the setting of dates or of any other kinds of charts. Eschatology is invariably used to encourage believers to live in a godly way (cf. Matt 24:36–25:46; Rom 13:11–14; 1 Cor. 15:58; Phil 4:4–9; 1 Thess. 5:1–11; 2 Pet 3:11–16). Nor does the New Testament ever invite believers to withdraw from the world because the end is near and to gaze at the skies, hoping that the Lord will return soon. The imminence of the end should function as a stimulus to action in this world. The knowledge that believers are sojourners and exiles, whose time is short, should galvanize them to make their lives count now.

We might expect a call for extraordinary behavior, thinking something unusual would be demanded in light of the arrival of the end. Peter exhorted his readers, however, to pursue virtues that are a normal part of New Testament paraenesis. We are reminded of what Martin Luther said when asked what he would do if the end would come today. He replied that he would plant a tree and pay his taxes. What Luther meant, of course, was that he lived every day in light of the end, and hence he would do the appointed task of that day. What is striking in the paragraph is how Peter shifted from a focus on relationship with outsiders to how believers should relate to one another.[7] Peter summoned his readers to “be clear minded and self-controlled.” The two verbs “be clear minded” (sōphronēsate) and “be self-controlled” (nēpsate) are virtually synonymous and should be understood together. Indeed, the word “pray” (lit., “prayers,” proseuchas) is attached to both verbs.[8] The nearness of the end has led some believers to lose their heads and act irrationally. On the contrary, believers should think sensibly as they contemplate the brevity of life in this world. Those who know the contours of history are able to assess the significance of the present. Their sensible and alert thinking is to be used for prayer, for entreating God to act and move in the time that still remains. The realization that God is bringing history to a close should provoke believers to depend on him, and this dependence is manifested in prayer, for in prayer believers recognize that any good that occurs in the world is due to God’s grace.[9]

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Through all Prayer and Petition

Ephesians 6:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 Through all prayer and petition praying at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, keep awake with all perseverance and making supplication for all the holy ones.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul referred to “all prayer and petition praying at all times.” (Eph. 6:18) Many times, we are petitioning the Father for his help in assisting us with our needs, as well as help in overcoming any obstacles that we may face, be it spiritually, morally, mentally, physically, financially, and the like. The Psalmist says, “O you who hear prayer, to you all flesh will come.” (Ps. 65:2) On Ephesians 6:18, Peter Thomas O’Brien writes,

18 Prayer is given greater prominence within the context of the battle with the powers of darkness than any of the weapons listed in vv. 14–17. This is evident because, first, v. 18 is closely related to what has preceded through two participles which stress the need for continual ‘praying’ in the Spirit and for ‘keeping alert’ with perseverance and petition. These participles are best connected with the main exhortation, ‘stand’ (v. 14), rather than with the imperative ‘receive’ (v. 17), and underscore the point that standing firm and praying belong together. Secondly, prayer itself is not identified with any weapon.198 The military metaphors are limited to vv. 14–17, while calling on God for strengthening is the way believers stand firm and appropriate the divine armour. Thirdly, Paul elaborates on the theme of prayer by using cognate words and synonyms to describe the activity, and underscores its importance by employing the word ‘all’ four times in v. 18: believers are urged to pray at all times, with all prayer and supplication, with all perseverance, and they are to make supplication for all the saints. Finally, this emphasis on prayer is extended further in v. 19, where the apostle requests intercession for himself that he might effectively use the spiritual weapon of the sword of the Spirit, that is, the gospel. Paul wants his readers to understand that prayer is ‘foundational for the deployment of all the other weapons’, and is therefore crucial if they are to stand firm in their spiritual struggle. He has already shown his concern for them by praying that they might know the greatness of God’s power (1:15–23), and be strengthened by it so as to grasp the dimensions of Christ’s love for them and be filled with all the fullness of God (3:14–21). The apostle wants them to realize that a life of dependence on God in prayer is essential if they are to engage successfully in their warfare with the powers of darkness.

In the first clause the readers are encouraged to stand firm, ‘praying with every kind of prayer and petition’. The first noun, rendered ‘prayer’, though used on occasion of prayer in general, regularly occurs in both Old and New Testaments to signify petition.202 In Paul it often has the meaning of ‘petition’ for others, that is, intercession. The second word, ‘petition or supplication’, which originally denoted a ‘lack’ or ‘need’ and then an ‘entreaty’, came to be used exclusively in the New Testament of a ‘prayer’ addressed to God, especially a ‘petition’ or ‘supplication’.204 Here the word is used synonymously with the first. The two elements are then taken up separately: first, ‘praying at all times in the Spirit’, and then ‘to this end, keeping alert in all perseverance and petition for all the saints’. The effect of this accumulation of terms for petitionary prayer (a verb and two synonymous nouns; cf. Phil. 4:6) is to underscore emphatically the importance in the Christian’s warfare of believing and expectant prayer.

Believers are to pray continually because their struggle with the powers of darkness is never ending. And their prayers are to be ‘in or by the Spirit’, that is, inspired and guided by the same Holy Spirit through whom they have confident access to the Father (2:18). As those who have been built into God’s dwelling place in the Spirit (2:22) and who are being filled by the Spirit (5:18), they are to pray to the Father, prompted and guided by the Spirit. This is not a reference to praying in tongues, since not all Christians are expected to engage in such prayer, but has to do with specific requests offered through the Spirit by every believer involved in the spiritual warfare. Even when we do not know what to pray as we ought, the Spirit comes to our assistance and intercedes for us with unspoken groanings that are perfectly in line with the will of God (lit. ‘according to God’, Rom. 8:26–27).

To be committed to this kind of prayer believers need to stay alert. Such vigilance is to be accompanied by perseverance and prayer for all the saints.209 The exhortation to ‘watch and pray’ was part of early Christian tradition which derives from the teaching of Jesus, who encouraged his disciples to be vigilant in the light of temptation (Mark 14:38) and in view of his unexpected return (Luke 21:34–36; Mark 13:32–37). Here Paul is not simply describing believers’ general stance of being watchful and prayerful at all times. Nor is he speaking of attention and engagement in prayer as opposed to humdrum and lethargic praying. Instead, the term used here, ‘be alert, vigilant’, together with its synonym, ‘stay awake, be watchful’, was employed regularly in catechetical contexts of the children of light being awake and renouncing the spiritual sleep of the darkness of this age, with their minds directed towards Christ’s coming and the consummation of the hope.211 The concept of wakefulness had an eschatological character to it, and it seems reasonable to assume that the apostle is here encouraging his readers to be alert in expectation of the Lord’s coming (cf. 1 Cor. 16:22; Rev. 22:20). Perseverance and prayer are linked elsewhere in the New Testament (Rom. 12:12; Col. 4:2; cf. Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4). Here believers are to persevere so as to overcome fatigue and discouragement, and not to fall into spiritual sleep or complacency.

They are to intercede ‘for all the saints’, that is, for those with whom they have been joined in the new community of God’s people (cf. 1:15; 2:14–18; 3:8). The spiritual warfare about which the apostle has been speaking is one in which all believers, both individually and corporately, are engaged; they need the intercession of fellow Christians if they are to stand firm in the thick of battle. The fourfold ‘all’ in this verse, pray at all times, with all prayer and supplication, with all perseverance, and make supplication for all the saints, underscores in a most emphatic way the significance which the apostle gave to such mutual intercession.[10]

Nevertheless, we need to give just as much attention to other forms of prayers as well, such as praise, thanksgiving, and supplication.

Let Everything Praise Jah

150 Praise Jah!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty expanse.[11]
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness.

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with harp and lyre.
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe.
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise Jah!
Praise Jah!

Certainly, all of us have many reasons why our prayers to the Father should include words of praise. Indeed, we want to ‘praise the Father for his mighty deeds, for his excellent greatness.’ The Psalmist says, “Seven times a day I praise you.” (Ps. 119:164) The Father certainly is worthy to be praised. For that reason, should we not praise him in our prayers “seven times a day,” i.e., frequently?

On Psalm 150 and the Psalms as a whole, Duane A. Garrett writes,

The loud, joyful, and exultant tone of this psalm tells us something of the nature of Israel’s worship. It could be solemn and grand without tedium or empty pomp. The psalm tells where, for what, how, and by whom the Lord is to be praised.

Theological Significance. The psalms help today’s believers to understand God, themselves, and their relationship to God. The psalms picture God as the Creator, who is worthy of praise and is capable of using His creative might to rescue His people from current distress. The psalms picture God as the just Judge of all the world, who rewards the righteous and opposes the wicked. Prayers that God curse the enemies of the psalmist must be understood in part as affirmations of God’s justice and the certainty of His judgment. The psalms picture God as the faithful Friend of the oppressed. The psalms offer a refresher course in God’s faithfulness throughout Israel’s history. The psalms highlight God’s promises to David and his descendants, promises that are not finally realized until Christ.

The psalms picture the full range of human emotions: joy, despair, guilt, consolation, love, hate, thankfulness, and dissatisfaction. The psalms thus remind us that all of life is under God’s lordship. The psalms likewise illustrate the broad range of human responses to God: praise, confession, pleas for help, thanksgiving. The psalms thus serve as a source book for Christian worship, both public and private.[12]

Everything by Prayer and Supplication with Thanksgiving

Philippians 4:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds[13] in Christ Jesus.

Francois Fenelon has written about praying about everything,

Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, it’s pleasures, and it’s pains, to a dear friend. Tell him your troubles, that he may comfort you; tell him your joys, that he may sober them; tell him your longings, that he may purify them; tell him your dislikes, that he may help you conquer them; talk to him of your temptations, that he may shield you from them; show him the wounds of your heart, that he may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others.

If you thus pour out your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subject of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back, neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of their heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.[14]

Yes, we are to pray about everything but this also brings to our attention another form of prayer, “thanksgiving.” This actually serves as a protection for us in that a thankful heart will be certain to evidence that gratitude by obeying the Word of God more fully. Sadly, as we enter the final stages of the “last days,” we find ourselves living among the most ungrateful generation this world has ever seen. We have young liberal progressives stomping and burning the American flag after millions of young men and women have given their lives (1914-2016) to give them the freedom even to consider such an action. If it were not for America, the world would be living under the German, Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires (July 1914-November 1918). If it were not for America, the United States would be living under a German dictatorship, totalitarianism, autocracy, one-party communist state (September 1939-September 1945). If it were not for America, the world would be living under the Islamic Caliphate and Shariah Law (1990-Present). When a natural disaster hits some place in the world, the United States military planes are the first there with assistance. When a country is under attack from a rogue regime, the United States comes to their defense. The world has lost its measure of peace and security during the liberal-progressive Obama administration (2008-2016). If America is so oppressive, why are foreigners from all other countries risking their lives to come here illegally? It is this generation of young ones, who have to gratitude for the lives that were given so they could even have the freedom to ponder the idea of stomping on or burning the American flag.

This is definitely the ungrateful generation. We live in a very wicked world, like the world just prior to God destroying the wicked men in Noah’s day. If we are not careful, this ungrateful mindset could infect us as well. We need continuously to evaluate why we are grateful to our Creator. In the first century Christian congregation, Jude, Jesus’ half-brother said that there were those who were “grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” (Jude 16)

Jude declared that the godless people of his day were among the ones being referred to when Enoch prophesied. There is no new information in Enoch’s revelation. When Christ returns, accompanied by thousands upon thousands of angels, he will judge the ungodly acts of these men, as well as the harsh words [they] have spoken against Jesus, whom they have denied.

Self-serving godlessness has four facets. First, they were grumblers and faultfinders. They saw flaws in others, but never in themselves. Such is the nature of pride.

Second, they followed their own evil desires, which might be the cause of their grumbling and fault finding. When someone determines to satisfy his or her own desires, grumbling and fault finding often follow, because evil desires are not easily satisfied. People and circumstances must cooperate. If they do not, complaining is a natural result.

Thirdly, these false teachers boast about themselves while they also flatter others in the hope that they may gain some advantage. The terms that appear here mean they used swollen and extravagant speech. This may refer to the godless people’s habit of offering lofty, self-glorifying speeches in which they claimed superior knowledge of God.

On the other hand, these godless people were fawning and servile toward other people, smearing slimy, oily words around in the hope of getting others to think highly of them.[15]

When congregation leaders and the head of families evidence thanksgivings in their prayers before the flock and their families, they are encouraging a thankful spirit. Supplication is a humble and sincere appeal coupled with intense feelings[16] to our heavenly Father, who has the power to grant the request. What may we supplicate to God? We can come to God if we are under some form of persecution or if we or someone else is suffering from some illness. We must remember that there are very good reasons why God does not step in and solve every problem. See the Chapter Does God Step in and Solve Our Every Problem Because We are Faithful? See also the Appendix Why Does God Permit suffering and Evil. In these times of difficulty, prayers such as these understandably become supplications. However, are we to wait until times where our emotional, mental, or physical suffering is great before we offer supplications to God.

Matthew 6:9-10 Updated America Standard Version (UASV)

The Model Prayer

Pray in this way:

“Our Father who is in the heavens,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Above we have Jesus’ model prayer, which focuses on three priorities: the Father’s name, His Kingdom, and His will. We live in a world where violent crime, drug gangs, abusive governments, and terrorism affect all of us daily. Certainly, these three important aspects of Jesus’ model should be just as vital to us as well. We need to pray that the Father’s name be sanctified and for his Kingdom to rid the earth of Satan’s rule, as His will is carried out here on earth. Let us, therefore, remain attentive, willingly making use of all forms of prayer.

Matthew 26:40-45 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Could you not so much as keep on the watch for one hour with me? 41 Keep on the watch and pray continually, so that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, he went off and prayed: “My Father, if it is not possible for this to pass away unless I drink it, let your will take place.” 43 And he came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them, he again went off and prayed for a third time, saying once more the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them: “At such a time as this, you are sleeping and resting! Look! The hour has drawn near for the Son of Man to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.

26:40–41. Returning to the three disciples, Jesus found them sleeping. He rebuked Peter on behalf of the others, using plural verbs throughout verses 40–41. His question did not expect an answer: Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? The disciples’ sleeping showed that they were unaware of the spiritual danger and that their guard was down. This time when Jesus commanded them to watch and pray, he was referring to more than staying awake physically. They were on the verge of entering into the temptation to deny and abandon him, and they needed God’s help to stand fast.

Jesus acknowledged their uninformed willingness to remain loyal when he said, The spirit is willing. But they were unaware of how weak their flesh was. Without prayerful dependence on God and continual spiritual watchfulness, the flesh would win at the first moment of weakness.[17]

The disciples, in the most critical times of Jesus’ life, remain vigilant, readily making use of prayer. However, Jesus did not judge Peter and the other disciples harshly for failing to keep on the watch and pray. Jesus was well aware what a stressful day they had all been through, which had taken a toll on their weak human flesh. The experience in the garden of Gethsemane was not lost on Peter. He went through and walked away with a painful lesson from his lack of watchfulness. Earlier, Jesus had said, ““You will all fall away because of me this night.” At that, Peter exclaimed, “Although all the others are stumbled in connection with you, I will never be stumbled!” Jesus said to Peter, “Truly I say to you, on this night, before a rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I should have to die with you, I will by no means disown you.” (Matt. 26:31-35) All the same, Peter did fall short, just as Jesus had said he would. Overcome by his third denial of Jesus, Peter “wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:60-62)

Peter unquestionably learned a lesson from this life experience and overcame his bent toward self-confidence. Clearly, prayer played a major role in Peter’s after the above experience. Indeed, it is of note that Peter wrote, “The end of all things has drawn near; therefore be sound in mind[18] and be sober-minded[19] in prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:7) Are we heeding the Bible’s counsel on prayer? (Ps 85:8) Let us also keep in mind the Apostle Paul’s admonition,

1 Corinthians 10:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 Therefore, the one who thinks that he stands beware that he does not fall.

10:12. Followers of Christ who are overly confident and think they are standing firm should be careful not to fall as the Israelites did in the desert. Again, Paul did not mean that one’s salvation can be lost. Rather, he meant that some who wrongly think they are saved might prove themselves not to be (see Heb. 3:12–13).

He probably directed this comment to those who ate in idols’ temples. These would have been the people who had confidence they would not fall, and the ones who had put themselves in jeopardy of idolatry. Paul may also have been thinking of the weak brothers and sisters who gained the confidence to eat in pagan temples by observing others do the same. He had already expressed concern that these brothers and sisters might be destroyed by such activity.[20]

Praying for Others

Jesus prayed for Peter so that his faith would not fail. (Luke 22:32) On this Trent C. Butler writes, “This is a foretaste of Jesus’ heavenly role as our intercessor (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). Here is a prayer of Jesus that was not fulfilled. Faith did fail Peter. Jesus knew it would. So Jesus encouraged Peter to come back from failure. Failure does not have to be the last word. Satan can win a battle and lose the war. After giving in to temptation, Peter could become stronger and become a source of strength for others. Failure need not be complete. Forgiveness is readily available. Here is the good news of the gospel for everyone.”[21] Epaphras imitated Jesus in this regard and applied himself in prayer on behalf of his brothers in Colossae. “Always struggling on your behalf in his prayers,” Paul wrote them, “that you may stand perfect[22] and fully assured in all the will of God.” (Col. 4:12) On this Max Anders, writes, “Every church and ministry needs an Epaphras, the prayer warrior, also from Colosse. He was mentioned earlier (1:7) as the man responsible for bringing the gospel to the Colossians. For Epaphras prayer was not a game, it was a battle. He prayed continually, fervently, and with purpose. Aware of what the Colossians were facing, he knew their need was to grow to maturity in Christ in order to continue to resist the alluring lies of the false teachers.”[23]

2 Corinthians 1:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 You also can help us by your prayers for us, in order that many may give thanks in our behalf for the favor we receive in answer to the prayers of many.

Our prayers for others are truly helpful to them. We must understand that God gets millions of prayers daily and he is not obliged to act in every instance. What does come to his attention though is a large number of his worshippers have made prayerful requests, some even repeatedly. He is well aware of the deep concern and desire that his will and purposes be carried out on earth. (Matt. 7:21-23; 1 John 2:15-17) We need to be balanced in our expectations, as more prayers go unanswered based on or expectations than actually are answered. When we make a request for others or ourselves we should include, “according to your will and purposes Father.” Remember, one way that we acquire endurance is through applying God’s Word more fully.[24] Even if our prayers are not answered in the timeframe that we expect or in the way that we would like, we can endure the difficulties that brought us to pray.

[2 Corinthians] 1:9b–11. Still, Paul could see a brighter side. He reflected on past events in two ways: First, God had permitted this suffering so Paul and other apostles might not rely on [them]selves but on God. Paul recognized the temptation to be self-reliant. Only when circumstances had exceeded his own ability had Paul learned to rely on God.

Paul described God as the one who raises the dead. He alluded to the fact that God the Father raised Christ from the dead as the firstfruits of a great resurrection. But he drew upon this truth because his sufferings in the past had brought him to feel that a sentence of death had been placed upon him. Through his trials Paul had realized that God’s power to raise the dead had significance beyond Christ’s resurrection and the general bodily resurrection of the last day. God was able day by day to make the power of Christ’s resurrection evident in believers’ lives (Phil. 3:10).

Paul next praised God’s past actions. God had delivered Paul and those with him from deadly peril. This declaration follows the Old Testament form of a traditional thanksgiving hymn (Ps. 40:1–3). Paul expressed confidence that God would deliver him in the future. Paul stated that he and other apostles had put their hope in the belief that God would continue to deliver. Hope in this sense is the emotional strength to persevere in difficulty because of a heightened expectation of better things in the future.

Finally, Paul acknowledged the purpose behind his sufferings and deliverances: God’s glory. Paul drew the Corinthians into his perspective by acknowledging that they would surely help him in the future by offering their prayers to God. As a result, many would give thanks to God for God’s response to their prayers. Many believers would be grateful for the gracious favor God would grant when he answered the prayers of many. The Corinthians were to have a right attitude toward Paul’s absence by remembering that their sympathetic prayers helped him in his suffering and glorified God.[25]

Why is it important that we pray regularly? Our prayers are like an intimate conversation with a dear friend, which helps us to draw closer to God. It makes Him more real to us. Our Father is the greatest person we can know, and he listens to us when others may not. (Ps 65:2; 1 Thess. 5:17) To whom does the Bible say that we should pray, and how? We should take note that Jesus’ prayers were always directed to the Father. (Matt. 4:10; 6:9) However, unlike Jesus, our prayers should be said in Jesus’ name. (John 14:6; 1 John 2:1-2) Our prayers to the father should be based on the motivation from our hearts, but not emotionalized for the sake of looking like we are doing a good job. We should not offer God some regurgitated prayer from memory or some prayer book. (Matt. 6:7-8) Our position and place are of no concern, as long as it is done respectfully without trying to draw attention to ourselves. (1 Sam. 1:12-13) In some cases, a quiet place may be best. (Mark 1:35) What are proper things that we can pray about? We can pray about anything that can affect our relationship with God. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Our example prayer from Jesus’ model prayer shows that we should be concerned about God’s name, his will and purposes, material needs, forgiveness of sins, and for help in resisting the temptations that come from Satan and his world. (Matt. 6:9-13) Our prayers should not always be about our needs, and they should be in harmony with God’s will. (1 John 5:14) When should we pray? We should pray anytime that we are moved to do so. (1 Ch. 29:10-13) We can pray when we are facing difficulties, or our faith is being challenged. (Ps 55:22; 120:1) We should pray before we eat our meals. (Matt. 14:19) We are invited us to pray “at all times.” (Eph. 6:18) We should be especially diligent in offering heartfelt prayers if we have committed some serious sin. We should beg God for mercy and forgiveness. (Ps 86:5; Pro. 28:13) Lastly, we must keep in mind that God does not listen to all prayers. If we expect God to hear our prayers, we must be doing our best to live by the Word of God. (Pro. 15:29; 28:9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17) We must be humble when we pray. (Luke 18:9-14) We need to work on behalf of our prayers. If we pray that God helps us to understand the Bible better, we should evidence or faith by having a regular personal Bible study, be preparing for the Christian meetings, and share our faith.

FOOTNOTES ARE BELOW COVER

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[1] To have understanding about practical matters and thus be able to act sensibly–‘to have sound judgment, to be sensible, to use good sense, sound judgment.’

[2] To be in control of one’s thought processes and thus not be in danger of irrational thinking–‘to be sober-minded, to be well composed in mind.’

[3] David Walls and Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, vol. 11, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 72.

[4] B.C.E. means “before the Common Era,” which is more accurate than B.C. (“before Christ”). C.E. denotes “Common Era,” often called A.D., for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”

[5] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 300.

[6] Rightly D. E. Hiebert, “Living in Light of Christ’s Return: An Exposition of 1 Peter 4:7–11,” BSac 139 (1982): 244; contra Martin, Metaphor and Composition in 1 Peter, 235–36.

[7] Cf. Michaels, 1 Peter, 244.

[8] The preposition εἰς designates purpose here (so Elliott, 1 Peter, 749).[8]

[9] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 210–211.

[10] Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 483–486.

[11] Expanse: (Heb., raqia) is the atmosphere surrounding earth the space above the earth that contains the clouds, planets, and stars. It is where the birds fly and the luminaries reside. God began to call the expanse heaven (or sky). The Psalmist tells us ‘The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and the expanse is declaring the work of his hands.’–Gen. 1:6-8, 14-15, 17, 20; Ps. 19:1; 150:1.

[12] Duane A. Garrett, “The Poetic and Wisdom Books,” in Holman Concise Bible Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 233–234.

[13] Or “your mental powers; your thoughts.”

[14] ThinkExist.com, Francois Fenelon Quotes, http://thinkexist.com/quotation/tell-god-all-that-is-in-your-heart-as-one-unloads/761471.html. Retrieved September 09, 2016.

[15] David Walls and Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, vol. 11, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 265.

[16] The idea of intense feelings should not suggest to us some kind of ecstatic emotionalism that we find within charismatic denominations.

[17] Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 442.

[18] Sound in Mind: (Gr. sophroneo) This means to be of sound mind or in one’s right mind, i.e., to have understanding about practical matters and thus be able to act sensibly, ‘to have sound judgment, to be sensible, to use good sense, sound judgment.’–Acts 26:25; Romans 12:3; 2 Timothy 1:7; Titus 2:6; 1 Peter 4:7

[19] Sober Minded: (Gr. nepho) This denotes being sound in mind, to be in control of one’s thought processes and thus not be in danger of irrational thinking, ‘to be sober-minded, to be well composed in mind.’–1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8

[20] Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 165.

[21] Trent C. Butler, Luke, vol. 3, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 371.

[22] Or complete or mature

[23] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 347.

[24] APPLYING GOD’S WORD MORE FULLY: The Secret of a Successful Christian Life [Second Edition] by Edward D. Andrews

[25] Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 304–305.