Getting Serious About Talking to God
Why we must make the most of the great privilege of prayer.
The doctrine of coming judgments is not popular. Most Christians don’t like reading or hearing about it. They say it’s scary, unedifying, and much too depressing. Yet, believers are commanded to be disciplined in prayer because “the end of all things is at hand; therefore, be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7).
Through the blood of Jesus Christ, God has given us the great privilege of coming directly to Him; and we should make the most of it, particularly as the days grow darker. In his commentary on 1 Peter, American theologian Albert Barnes (1798–1870) wrote,
People naturally pray when they suppose that the end of all things is coming. An earthquake induces them to pray. An eclipse, or any other supposed prodigy, leads people to pray if they suppose the end of the world is drawing near. A shipwreck, or any other sudden danger, leads them to pray, Psalm 107:28. So people often pray in sickness who have never prayed in days of health. . . . Who can conduct us through the dark valley but he? Who can save us amidst the wrecks and ruins of the universe but he? Who can dissipate our fears, and make us calm amidst the convulsions of dissolving nature, but God? As that event, therefore, may come upon us at any hour, it should lead us to constant prayer.1
Jesus’ disciples never asked Him how to preach or teach. Instead, they asked Him how to pray (Lk. 11:1). Prayer is God’s gift to mankind (Ps. 116:2), and we must avail ourselves of it.
The Hebrew word for “prayer” is tefillah. Tefillah is viewed as an awakening of the hidden love within the heart. In times of trouble or impending danger, prayer is our immediate connection to talk with God, who is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3).
After the Rapture—when God carries all Church Age believers, both dead and living, to heaven before the seven-year Tribulation—we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for the works we did in Jesus’ name while on Earth (5:10).
But until that day, the church should be engaged in holy living and ceaseless personal prayer: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9).
Intercede for the Lost
The end-times judgments of Revelation 4—18 cannot be stopped or altered by prayer. Yet we are privileged to be able to pray passionately for the salvation of the lost.
Jesus Christ took God’s wrath on Himself to save everyone who will repent of his or her sin, accept God’s forgiveness through Christ, and receive the gift of eternal life by faith (Rom. 5:8–9). God is merciful and gracious (Ps. 103:8), as well as holy and just (99:9; Rom. 3:26). We should feel deep anguish for those who will perish without Christ, particularly because of the inescapable judgments to come.
The 19th-century English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon expressed his deep burden for the unsaved when he said, “Lost! Lost! Lost! Better a whole world on fire than a soul lost! Better every star quenched and the skies a wreck than a single soul to be lost!”2
Even Jewish tradition speaks of a “throne of judgment” and a “throne of mercy.” God is viewed as sitting on one or the other as He dispenses justice or mercy respectively. An individual would pray, “Let my prayer come before the throne of thy glory, and let my cry come before the throne of thy mercy” (Talmud, Abodah Zarah 3b).
The apostle Paul wrote, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1). We see the days grow more perilous each year. The horrific reality of the coming Tribulation serves as a strong incentive for prayer that focuses on sharing Christ with the unsaved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4–6).
Never Give Up
We who believe the Bible know what lies ahead. But not everyone believes. The apostle Peter confronted teaching in his day that denied Jesus is returning to judge the world: “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,” wrote Peter, “and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Pet. 3:3–4).
Today scoffers and scorners still influence the unsaved, as well as naïve Christians who find it convenient to accept false views: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3–4; cf. 2 Pet. 2:18–19).
The church is in a spiritual war, and we are to be prayer warriors, praying persistently. An essential battle gear is prayer. We are commanded to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).
Praying keeps our minds and hearts clear. We have been issued specific orders: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
Seventeenth-century English preacher John Bunyan, best known for his allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, wrote, “When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.”3 Prayer should be more than words. It should be a sincere expression of our faith that God hears our pleas, no matter what the circumstance.
- Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible, “1 Peter 4,” biblehub.com (tinyurl.com/yyzlc4wg).
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, cited in James Jennings, “Quotes on Reaching Out to the Lost,” September 13, 2011 (illbehonest.com/quotes-on-reaching-out-to-the-lost).
- Warren Wiersbe, The Bumps Are What You Climb On (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 85.