Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s foundations podcast. Today’s passage 1 Peter 4:1-11. We are going to focus on verse 8 (from the Message version):
Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer.
I find it a huge encouragement to know that there’s a community of people – those listening to this podcast for example- who are reading their Bibles today and trying to listen to what God is saying. Because if we ever needed to hear God speak to us, as individuals and as a church…it seems like right now!
You don’t need me to tell you how crazy life is currently. From the personal everyday challenges that we are each in our way dealing with, to the national/global issues we are all reminded of every time we turn on the news, there is a realisation that now, more than ever, we need a guide to lead us through these difficult and confusing days. As James pointed out last week in his awesome reflections – we do have one! We have Jesus, who speaks to us through his word and guides us by his Spirit. And in a time where it feels like everything is coming to a head, we, as disciples, need to hold fast to the truths of our faith in Him and how we work that out in our everyday lives.
Peter was writing this letter to a people who were also living through incredibly challenging times. In today’s focus verse, he instructs the believers to ‘stay wide awake in prayer’. I don’t know about you but there are moments during lockdown where I feel like I’m losing track of time. I really have had to think hard to remind myself of which day of the week it even is! For many because we might find ourselves doing the same thing, at the same time, in the same way, one day can feel like it blurs into the next. In a way, we can find ourselves sleep walking through life.
Today’s focus verse is a timely reminder that what God wants us to do is to keep our eyes open. To stay awake! To pray. That we might be awakened again to our need for Him so that we might become more like Him.
I lead our youth church here at STC and for the past two weeks, in the wake of all the protests happening as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve been asking the question: how can we really make a difference for Jesus in this time? As believers we must recognise that the starting place if we really want to see change has to be found in the place of prayer.
Prayer is many things. But at its heart it’s the place of interaction between us and God. I’ve heard our team leader here, Mick, describe it as a place of divine persuasion. The place where we can and should bring our needs (petition) and the needs of others, praying for others (intercession) as we ask God to bring about change. Do you know what? Our Father in Heaven wants us to ask him for things. Something I think I’m learning in this season is that I need get better at learn how to ask. Jesus tells his disciples this – Ask and you’ll get, seek and you’ll find, knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). We have a father who is always willing to give…..if only we would learn how to ask. We discover that, are reawakened to that through prayer. There are ways in which we actively step more into this – using the weekly prayer email as a bit of guide or prompt, getting in touch with the wonderful Heather Andrews who heads up our team of intercessors. But even more than that God wants us to become more and more aware of his presence with us every day, every moment and become sensitive to his Spirit prompting us as we lift ours needs and those of others around us to Him in prayer.
Of course prayer is not only the place where we seek change but it’s ultimately where we are changed. We believe that God can work through all things, and perhaps these are days, in which He is awakening again a need within us to press into Him even more through prayer. To rediscover both the intimacy but also the power that comes through prayer. What we find is that as we begin to interact with God in prayer in this way, as we bring before him our human wishes, our needs and our desires… an exchange takes place and we begin to take on his heavenly wishes.
We discover that it’s not just about getting, it’s about giving.
Prayer is more than just something we do and say, it’s something we become.
It’s the place where we become more like Jesus. The place where we are changed.
And the place where God re-awakens within us a desire to play our part in bringing it.
So this day, may we be alert and wide awake. Now is the time to keep pressing into prayer. To keep trusting. To keep going. Because our heavenly Father is always willing and always giving.
Father, thank you that we can call you Father and we can come to you in prayer. God, we bring to you today our needs, the things happening around us, situations we are aware of, the stuff that is on our hearts and we know that when we ask you about these things…you always answer. Help us to have our eyes open in this season Jesus – for our need for you, that we might become more like you. Lord, teach us how to pray. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 4:1-11 (NIV)
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body has finished with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.