There are several instructions the writer gives, because the end if near. The first instruction involves prayer. I find it interesting that there is no “thou shalt pray.” Prayer is assumed. The writer believes that God’s people will be given to prayer. Some more than others, of course. But it is a significant part of each believer’s life.
No, the instruction is not “make sure you pray.” The instruction is make sure you pray with a right heart, right attitudes and right perspectives. Words used to describe praying with a right heart are: earnest, alert, disciplined, sober, self-controlled and right-minded.
Prayer as the writer describes it should be a serious, focused, intentional connecting with God. This does not necessarily preclude a free, emotionally released time of worship. But, there ought to be time when we place our heart as intermediaries between God and people, between God and the world, and between people and the world. It is not a fun sort of prayer. It is a burden of love. It is assuming the burden of suffering with people and for people – in our hearts, minds and prayers.
We ought to be concerned by slowly God’s kingdom is growing. We need to pray for the Holy Spirit’s invasion of the world.
We ought to be concerned by how small God’s family is. We ought to pray for the Word, the gospel and the Spirit to invade hearts, cities, people-groups, cultures and societies, turning the upside down as they learn about God’s love and his desire to adopt them as his children.
Yes, we should pray for jobs and healing for people we know. We should pray for parking places. But we need to expand our hearts. God wants to touch those close to us: family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. He also want to touch those far away.
We also need to understand our authority. When the disciples were still immature spiritually, Jesus sent them out, told them to proclaim his message, and gave them authority to heal and cast out demons. He gave them authority to validate their message. He later went on to give authority to his church to “bind” and “release.”
Maybe he gave this authority to increase our faith. Maybe so we would develop his heart toward the world. In either case, we need to recognize he has given us authority, and we need to learn to wield it … in love, for people, for God’s kingdom, for good.