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Be therefore sober and watch unto prayer

by Anton Stier

The Bible tells us of a coming period before the return of the Messiah when believers will have to deal with a lot of false teachings and temptations. Peter therefore calls us to common sense, watchfulness and prayer.

Fight over Jerusalem
We live in serious and perilous times. Everywhere in the world we discover an irrevocable process of disruption and chaos. The global impact of Islam, aids, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, a loss of sense of values and natural disaster can only be turned by the return of Israel’s Messiah. The Middle East is especially a powder keg that can easily be set on fire. The recent war between Israel and Hezbollah once again proved the situation can change unpredictably. Are these changes totally unpredictable? No, because God’s Word reveals a future scenario. The Bible shows us a future when the Middle East conflict will result in a fight over Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12 writes about Jerusalem as a cup of trembling and a burdensome stone for all people (Zech. 12:2,3). The conflict about Israel will become a matter that will exercise many minds until the day of the Lord comes. Then everyone will see the march of Israel’s enemies ending up in their own destruction as 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4 states: “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”
The Bible tells us the falling away will come, as well as the revelation of the man of sin who will sit in the temple of Jerusalem shewing he is God.

Peter wrote: “But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer”. Since we are believers seeing the end of all things coming soon, it is important to be sober and watch unto prayer.

Sober
The word Peter uses for sober is also found in Mark 5:15. After the Lord delivered a man who was possessed with legions of devils, the man sat at the Lord’s feet “in his right mind”. Because of that deliverance he was able to control himself. Paul uses the same word in 2 Corinthians 5:13 as a counterpart of the expression “to be beside ourselves”. Soberness is what we need in order to Biblically analyze the developments in the world.

Watch
After ‘sober’ Peter mentions the word watch. Both words are being used together in the Bible and have the same meaning. The Greek verb ‘nēphō’ which is being used here means ‘not being fuddled’ (see also 1Thess. 5:6-8). According to the Greek word we have to be able to think clearly and be alert to all kinds of temptations and false teachings that are a characteristic of the latter times.

Pray
Soberness and watchfulness are conditions for prayer. In Greek the word ‘prayer’ is used in the plural, meaning various kinds of prayer like worship, thanksgiving, intercession, praise, but also meaning ‘praying repeatedly’. A lot of times we are so focused on doing something that we are too busy to pray. Prayer is of great importance especially in times of trial.

The Lord says to His disciples: “Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation”. And to Simon He says: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:31-32).
Although God is the Almighty One Who does not need our prayers in order to act, it is a privilege to know the Lord is willing to involve us in the fulfilment of His plans. “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence” (Isaiah 62:6).

Prayer and daily life
Prayer is considered to be the soul’s breath. Although this expression is not to be found in the Bible, Paul does call us to pray without ceasing. (1 Thess. 5:17) and to continue in prayer (Col. 4:2). Prayer therefore is essential concerning our relationship with God.

Free entrance to heaven’s throne
The Bible tells us we are able to enter God’s heavenly sanctuary by prayer because of the blood of Christ. Because of Christ’s sacrifice God calls us to frankly enter His Presence in prayer: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19).

Christ our Mediator
The blood of Christ is the reason why we can enter into the holiest. The risen Lord is our living Mediator. Therefore we can pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

A holy life
An important condition for prayer is an intimate relationship with the Lord and the people around us. Paul writes: “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8).
This verse is not about the uplifting of hands but about the uplifting of holy hands. Prayer requires a holy life, a life without wrath and/or doubting. Even the relationship between husband and wife is important concerning prayer: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

Look up
David prayed: “Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:3). When David prayed he knew God was listening and it made him look up to the Lord concerning the answer to his prayer.

No vain repetitions
Prayer is not about the words we use, but about the condition of our hearts.
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for