• Mark Ledbetter

Establishing an Attitude of Prayer in Troubling Times

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 1 Peter 4:7

It is certain that as we approach the Return of our Lord, we shall witness troublesome events – natural disasters, violence, and contradictory voices clamoring for attention and allegiance to their cause. As Jesus reveals, the intensity and frequency of such things will only increase as we approach the day of His Coming (Matthew 24:1-14).

We are warned by Jesus and the Apostles of these unsettling events not to cause us to panic or become despairing, but to encourage us to remain diligent and enduring regardless of the intensity of that which we are sure to encounter.

It is the Apostle Peter who presents a sure-fire way to keep our hearts and minds settled during troublesome days – prayer. Essential to maintaining a healthy prayer life is controlling our thoughts. Without sound thinking, our prayers are hampered and debilitating.

Without a vigorous prayer life, we are prone to discouragement, distress, and we allow ourselves to be caught up in despondency – helpless and hopeless. Without maintaining our constant contact with, and entering the presence of God through prayer, doubt replaces faith, while fear replaces trust. We jeopardize our very lifeline with our Heavenly Father.

Be of Sound Judgment

We are to place our thoughts in “safe keeping,” protecting them from intrusion of thoughts determined to rob us of our peace with God. Such invading thoughts of fear and doubt can only be repelled with a peace that passes all understanding, the thrust of the Apostle Paul’s admonition to pray:

Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Through thankful prayer and earnest prayer, our anxiety is replaced by God’s peace, a peace that is guarded by the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus. It is an unexplainable peace because, since it comes from the Father Above, it is supernaturally endowed and supernatural in nature.

Just as the Prophet Isaiah declares, “The steadfast of mind He [God] will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in you,” (Isaiah 26:3) so the Apostle Paul concludes with this thought:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8).

By entrusting our thoughts to God, we place our thoughts in a safe place, one where thieves and robbers cannot penetrate or steal our peace or our joy.

Be of…Sober Spirit

To be sober in spirit in a literal sense means not to be intoxicated, and in context, it means we should not be intoxicated with worldly cares and pleasures. In fact, Jesus warns:

Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Such attitude in prayer reflects an attitude towards life. People can become drunk on power and pleasure, lose all sensibility and should such attitudes invade the prayer closet, it is certain our prayers will become self-absorbed and driven by carnal desires. This type of prayer, the Apostle James warns, will not be heard (James 4:3).

The End of All Things

The approaching hoof-beats of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse requires that those looking for Jesus’ Return maintain an established prayer life that fixes itself upon the conquest of unsettling thoughts and concerns through the peace that is obtained by safe-guarding our thoughts and maintaining a sober-mindedness.

Further, with expectation of Christ’s Return, we must engage the prayer closet with the full armor of God, “with all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit,” alert, steadfast prayer for others (especially our persecuted brothers and sisters), and pray that men and women anointed by God may “make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:10-19); as well as “pulling down strongholds” of the enemy, destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Hope for Troubling Times

The promise of Jesus’ return is enveloped in signs and wonders that point to eschatological (end-time) themes. Yet, the promise of His return provides hope for the present as well as the future. A secure future gives us strength to overcome present adversities. We can remain overcomers by establish a proper attitude towards prayer.

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