From the very beginning of the letter, Peter made something very clear that he gets back to here. In chapter 1, verse 2, he let us know that we were chosen by God for obedience to Jesus Christ. And this is a theme that we see throughout this letter. We don’t belong to ourselves. We belong to God. We don’t live for ourselves. We live for God. At least we should be.
Now here in chapter 4, Peter reminds us yet again, we do not live for ourselves, but for the will of God. And it is for that reason reason that we endure suffering and put away sin in our lives. (1-3)
But living for the will of God is not merely avoiding sin and being willing to suffer for his sake. It’s living every moment of every day for him.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. (7)
In short, remember that this life is temporal. Jesus is coming back. And so all that we do should be done with that in mind. Don’t let the pleasures of this world, the worries of this world, or anything else cloud your mind. And don’t let sin reign in your lives either. All these things take our focus off of what’s truly important: God and his kingdom. Each day, we should be drawing near to God and doing all we can to bring people into his kingdom. And that’s where most of our prayers should be directed.
But how often do our prayers remain purely self-focused? I’m not saying that we should never pray for ourselves. Jesus, in the model prayer he gave us, encouraged us to do so. (Matthew 6:11). But remember again, we don’t live for ourselves. And so when we pray, it should start with, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
When we are too focused on ourselves, when our minds our clouded by the things of this world and the worries of this world, we lose sight of that. And when we fall into sin, letting ourselves become slaves to it once more, we definitely lose sight of God and his kingdom in our lives.
That is why Peter writes, “Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”
I don’t think Peter is saying, “so that you may have the ability to pray.” Rather, I think he’s saying, “so that you can pray effectively.”
“So that you can pray according to the will of God.”
“So that you can pray in such a way that God will honor your prayers.”
The NASB puts it, “be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”
In short, we cannot pray effectively according to the will of God if our hearts are not right.
How we pray shows where our priorities are. It also shows how much we are truly living for the will of God.
What do your prayers show about you? Do they show a person living according to the will of God?