“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray." 1 Peter 4:7
In the days the Bible was written people would often protect themselves by building a wall around their city. At various spots around the wall they would erect towers or ramparts from which watchmen could view coming danger. The primary ability a watchman needed was to stay alert. Sleepy or distracted people make poor watchmen.
Peter says, “The end of all things is near” (1 Peter 4:7). Things are drawing to a conclusion and God has made it clear that spiritual deception, world turmoil and evil will increase. In light of this fact we are admonished to “be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” The Holy Spirit is telling us that the most important activity needed as the end draws near is meaningful effective prayer.
Peter tells us that to pray effectively we must be “alert and of sober mind”. The Greek word translated alert means to have a clear mind or literally, to be in your right mind. A clear mind is an uncluttered mind. If my mind is full of all kinds of distractions then I am hindered from meaningful prayer. When my mind is cluttered I may not pray much at all and when I do it is laborious and seems futile. So I need to learn to clean my mind of clutter that I may pray.
That’s where the second part of Peter’s admonition comes into play. He said we are to be alert and of “a sober mind.” This word sober means to be temperate or self-controlled. A meaningful prayer life includes spiritual discipline such as the discipline of solitude. When author Dallas Willard was asked the key to spiritual growth and maturity his answer was, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” A difficult task for American Christians but one we must learn. With a clear and uncluttered mind we are able to focus on God and hear His voice.
If there was ever a need for watchmen on the wall it is now. A nation spiraling out of control and unable to find its footing needs watchmen who will pray. Troubled and disintegrating marriages need someone who will watch and pray. An impotent and powerless church needs someone to climb into the rampart and alertly watch and pray. We could add to that list our cities, our schools, our businesses, our relationships, our ministries for the Lord and the work of His kingdom. Jesus said that those who believe in Him would to the works He did and “greater works than these.” As we are alert and sober in prayer we will surely see greater and greater movements of the Holy Spirit and the revival we so desperately needs will come.
Will you take up the challenge to be a watchman? Will you take your place on the rampart and pray? There is no greater challenge. There is no greater opportunity for while evil increases so does the work of the kingdom and the activity of our God. Let us not shrink back in fear or be lulled to sleep but let us be alert and sober and watch unto prayer.