The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. (1 Peter 4:7)
Prayer is vital to our spiritual lives. Without it we cannot survive or thrive in the Christian life. Prayer is our life link to God, enabling us to remain in Him at all times. Unless we remain in Him, we cannot bear fruit. We cannot accomplish anything that has any eternal significance if it is not the result of prayer; all of our work would just be in vain if it is only coming from our flesh. Prayer keeps in touch with the Almighty. Through prayer God can speak to us and we can obey His word.
But it is hard to pray. To pray unceasingly or constantly is a noble goal. How can we do it? There are two prerequisites to a vital prayer life. First, we need to be alert. Second, we need to be sober minded. The NIV translation seems to blur the distinctions between these two words. Actually, they are different, even though they are also related. The first, to be “alert,” actually means “to be of sound mind, i.e. to be reasonable, sane.” The second, to be “sober minded,” actually means “to be self-controlled, temperate, balanced.” In other words, there are two aspects about me that I need to manage in order to pray constantly or unceasingly: my mind and my body (which includes my emotions as well). What’s going on in my thoughts and thinking is crucial to my spiritual life. Am I still purpose driven or am I thinking wrongly about things? Is the word of God guiding my thoughts or am I just operating based on human wisdom? I need to manage my mind. Secondly, I need to discipline my body, and also my passions or emotions. How am I exercising and eating lately? Am I sleeping adequately? Am I aware of my emotions lately? Am I passionate about godly things, things that God is passionate about also? Is my heart after the Lord’s heart? Interestingly, the more I pray the more I am able to manage my mind and body. So it works like a loop (at least in my experience). When I am disciplined in my thoughts as well as in my body, then I am able to pray. The more I pray the more I am able to discipline my thoughts and my body.
How are you doing with these two areas of your life? Are you aware of what’s going on in your mind and body? Your lack of discipline in these two areas will affect the quality of your spirituality. Make an inventory. Repent and renew your commitment to walk with God daily. Stay focused and don’t let your mind drift into useless things. Discipline your body and emotions so that you can pray.