I’ve been reading in 1 Peter the last couple days. Today I was in 1 Peter 4, and verses 7-9 stood out to me. Verse 7 speaks of being “earnest and disciplined in your prayers.” I must admit that that is an area where I struggle to be consistent. I struggle most (I think – but what do I know?) with the discipline part. There are so many things that I allow to take my attention. I am embarassed by how inconsistent my prayers often are.
I can only thank God that that very verse is followed up by, “continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” Now love is something that we don’t do on our own well. It is something that we need the Spirit to develop in our lives. It is an encouragement to hunker down and become earnest in our prayers; to become consistent. As Paul says in Corinthians, the greatest of the triumvirate – faith hope and love – is love. It is the life blood for the rest. And it is the life blood of our prayers. If we want our prayers to be earnest and consistent, then we must submit to this love.
It is not a warm and fuzzy love. It is a passion for God’s heart: people. It is not a self-seeking thirst, but a love that is completely willing to sacrifice for another. And I think there is where our prayers (my prayers) often fail. We pray for ourselves, not out of an outright selfishness, but out of a lack of real spiritual interest in what God desires. We get so focused on our own personal needs, the health of our relatives and friends, and the growth of our own church that we can somehow miss praying for God to boldly speak through people throughout our towns and cities. We miss opportunities to meet him out in the fields.
And when you know that your prayers are weak like that. When you are aware of their paucity somewhere in the back of your mind, there is an inclination to just stop. It’s the wrong reaction, but it is incredibly human, I think – or at least human in the sense of fallen human nature. Rather than asking God to increase our love (which would correct the lack of passion and insistence in our prayer) we simply don’t pray like we know we should. I trust to myself because it is “easier”, less demanding.
God, help me to remember that everything I have is to be used to demonstrate your love to others. My home (the next verse) is to be open as a tool for showing love. My prayers are to be faithful and consistent, for God’s will to be done, for my own sin to become apparent to me through God’s action in my life, for my heart to be maleable so I can really live up to the purpose on my life (that God could demonstrate his love through me).