"The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." 1 Peter 4: 7
By 64 A.D. the Roman world was a place of chaos, confusion and catastrophe for many Christians. Peter made a dire assessment of the situation, but offered suffering believers a sense of direction in the fog of war.
Peter’s words, predicting the end, may appear to miss the mark, but when they are read in the light of eternity, the past 2,000 years have flashed before the eyes of God like a split second. He sounded a call to battle for prayer warriors in his day. They still ring true. Read them. Heed them.
The study of end times over the past 2,000 years has taken serious scholars and competing crackpots down many different paths. In the end, they always end up in the same place. When The End comes, God wins. Case closed.
In the meantime, Peter issues The Commander’s standing order. He reveals the one purpose for the obedient prayer warrior. Pray with sound judgment and sober spirit.
Praying with sound judgment means to pray with a moderate estimate upon yourself, while placing a high estimate on God. Sound judgment is marked by calm, not panic.
Panic is the lowest form of praying. It causes fools to rush in where angels fear to tread, and implement the first good idea that pops into their mind. Praying with sound judgment understands how God works, in the climate of prayer.
“Our tendency is to rush out and help God do this. God works in the climate of prayer and opens doors as a result of prayer.” Michael Catt
Those who lack sound judgment breathe their own ether, drunk with the toxic cocktail of personal desire, and perceived destiny. With great passion, they race right by God’s idea and put their name on a man-made movement that misses His purpose. Putting a man’s name of a movement of God is a sure-fire way to invite God to take His hand off of it. This only happens…EVERY TIME.
Those who seek to make a name for themselves as leaders of the next Great Awakening might be surprised to know that Jonathan Edwards did not perceive himself as leading a great revival. He was convinced that God was leading it, and he was humbly surprised that he was included in it.
The partial title of the essay Edwards wrote in 1737 describing the Awakening God brought to his church holds one of the keys to understanding revival. Pray for a Great Awakening, but expect to be surprised by it.
“Containing a Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton, Massachusetts, A. D. 1735.” Jonathan Edwards
Praying with sound judgment means to think of yourself soberly, to be calm, and to be in your right mind. When every one around you is losing their mind, have the mind of Christ.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation,…” Philippians 2:5-7
Praying with sound judgment means to exercise control over your emotions, to curb your passions. It is not enough to desire for answered prayer, or to be desperate for it, like a petulant child about to receive something it wants, but just won’t wait for it. Waiting for an answer to prayer does not mean pouting through the process. It should build one’s confidence and expectancy in the provision and grace of The Father.
Prayer calms my heart by replacing desperation with expectancy. Sound judgment reveals that I know prayer is my first priority not my last resort. This builds my confidence in The Father and I wait, knowing His answer is on its way.
Recently, I returned from a gathering of pastors praying for the next Great Awakening. I went to my parent’s retirement center and gave my 92 year-old father a report. As I began, he leaned towards me like a child on Christmas morning. With his eyes wide open with expectancy and his face beaming with joy, he whispered, “What do you hear out there? Is it coming?” Taken aback by his unbridled enthusiasm, I choked out the words, “Dad, your prayers have been heard. Pastors are praying. It is coming.” He leaned back on the couch and clapped his hands together and looked towards Heaven, not me. I was the messenger of revival, but God was the mover. It was a sacred moment for us both. Trust the process.
Note to Self: Trust the process. Be engaged in it. Don’t rush it. Sober spirit is a call to you to be calm, collected and circumspect in the face of the enemy. Peter uses this word to describe seasoned warriors marching in step with God, and engaging the enemy. When you pray, you do not stand alone. You fight next to The Champion. Remember The End. God wins. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!