In a little Lutheran cemetery deep in Nebraska farm country, I walked up and down the rows of gravestones searching for family names. Some of the stones were written in German, others too old to read. Some lived only a few moments, and others for almost a century. As I walked, a sense of urgency settled on my heart—what should I be doing with the years God gives me? What would I write on my stone?
The disciple Peter felt that urgency, too, and left us with some important instructions.
He wrote, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” (1 Peter 4:7 NIV)
So first, Peter tells us to prioritize spending time in prayer. But why?
I think Peter is reminding us that the first object of life is to have a relationship with God — because through prayer, that relationship allows us to experience His power and presence in our lives.
For a long time I didn’t believe in prayer. I didn’t think there would be anyone on the receiving end of my pleas.
That all changed when I decided I couldn’t do life alone anymore. I couldn’t rely on myself to be everything to everyone. I needed help. So I decided to start believing in the promise of the Holy Spirit of God and believe in prayer.
My first prayer? I asked God to send his Spirit into my heart to show me how to live a life of love and purpose instead of frustration and fear.
I prayed for His wisdom in my everyday life. I prayed for opportunities to do good in my family and in the world. I prayed for peace in my house, for help when there was none, for sanity in motherhood…for everything.
The more I prayed, the more I heard the voice of God through the Holy Spirit reminding me to love and show mercy in tough moments.Andrea Chatelain
The more I prayed, the more I heard the voice of God through the Holy Spirit reminding me to love and show mercy in tough moments. It’s nothing fancy. Sometimes my most intimate times with God are while I’m stirring mac and cheese on the stove or driving to work. I get lost in conversations with my God asking Him hard questions about life and to show me His ways when I am uncertain. And He honors that humility. He whispers Scripture on my heart reminding me His truth and prompts me to do things my heart wants to avoid.
Peter knew prayer would be the difference between God’s people sinking and thriving, between living stuck and moving forward in faith.
We spend moments praying so we can spend our lives loving others.
Peter continues, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:8-10 NIV)
We pray so we can hear God’s voice calling us to love people when they seem unloveable. So we can see their good, not only their sin. So that when we want to point our finger and raise our voices and give what is “deserved”, we instead follow God’s lead to love in the form of mercy and grace.
That deep, divine love is for an important purpose. That grace we dole out freely in the form of forgiving words and hugs and peace isn’t just to make life go well, it’s to be ambassadors of Christ. Our love gives others a taste of a loving God.
If prayer leads us to love and our acts of love and service lead our people to Christ for the glory of God; that’s how I want to spend my short time here.Andrea Chatelain
Peter finishes saying, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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.” (1 Peter 4:11 NIV)
If prayer leads us to love and our acts of love and service lead our people to Christ for the glory of God; that’s how I want to spend my short time here.
I want “prayer and love” to be written on my stone.
- How do you seen a connection between your prayer life and your ability to show love in hard relationships?
- How have you seen love in the forms of forgiveness, mercy, and grace bring glory to God and restore relationships?
- Think of some relationships in your life that are strained. Spend time with God this week through prayer asking him to show you how to bear with that person in love.