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)
One of the reasons that people don’t pray well is that they live in a cloud. They may be praying, but they are not praying soberly.
Certain situations come upon us in life, and they make us sober up. You know where I’ve seen this a number of times? In marriage counseling. Mostly it’s men. Through years of pastoral ministry, I’ve seen guys come to me and they say, “Pastor, I can’t believe it, my wife wants a divorce. Tell her not to divorce me.”
And then I’ll say, “Well, tell me the story.” And when the man begins to do that, almost invariably, he begins to allude to the fact that he has not treated his wife very well through the years. He has neglected her through working too much or spending the evenings with his buddies, or he has treated her like a hired girl, or just taken her for granted, or whatever. And sometimes it goes on for 10, 20, 30 years.
And you know what happens – one day, she comes and says, “I want out. I’m divorcing you.” Now, she may or may not have a biblical reason, but one thing is sure – she is just too tired to take it anymore. And the moment she says that, do you know what happens? I’ll tell you what happens…He sobers up. Now you get it, right? He wasn’t necessarily drunk. He was just a fool living in a cloud…and now he’s awake. Now, he looks at this wonderful woman who has put up with him through the years, and he snaps to attention. It’s like he was dreaming and now he wakes up.
Aside from coming for a visit to see me, a man in this situation will begin to act quite differently…if she gives him a chance. He will begin to realize what he had, and his life will change. He will sober up. And if that man is a true Christian, I’ll tell you what else he will begin to do…he will begin to pray. He probably hasn’t given very much time to praying about his marriage in the past, but now that he’s sobered up, he starts to pray. And he will pray as if everything depends upon his prayers.
Now listen to what Peter is saying: Wake up! The end of all things is at hand. It’s smelling salts for an unconscious man. It’s a cold slap across the face. The end is near. Therefore be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the sake of your prayers.
This is the kind of spirit we have to have if we want to pray well. You see, a lot of people pray; not many people pray as if their life depends on it, as if their children depend on their prayers, as if their marriage depends on their prayers, as if their church depends on their prayers. Many people pray, but I doubt that most of them pray…soberly. To be sober in prayer is to understand what is at stake, and when you understand that, you get blood earnest. And earnestness in prayer is one of the great keys to prayer.
“The Devil is aware that one hour of close fellowship, of hearty converse with God in prayer, is able to pull down what he hath been contriving and building many a year.” – John Flavel
“If I had only prayed more…” “Oh, that I had prayed a hundred-fold more!” – Dr. Andrew A. Bonar