In 1 Peter 4:7, Peter urges us to be serious when we pray. Even though that makes sense, and we can easily understand what being serious is all about, do we really know how to be “serious” in prayer as Peter bids?
The kind of seriousness that Peter is promoting is the same kind of seriousness that Solomon is alluding to when he says,
“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting.” Ecclesiastes 7:2a
Um, really? I am not sure I know many folks who prefer to visit the funeral home instead of dining at a fine restaurant with friends; nevertheless, one of the wisest men to have ever lived said it was better. So, why did Solomon make such a statement? I believe it is because we have a tendency to live toward the “house of feasting”. Aren’t we constantly thinking about weekend plans, home improvement ideas, shopping ventures, our kid’s activities, and possible vacation destinations?
But, when we attend a funeral it gives us a moment to think about what is really important, eternal things, human suffering, and quite frankly, it takes our attention off of ourselves and properly places it on others. The “house of mourning” un-spoils us from all the running, doing and playing we do for the majority of our lives.
A “house of mourning” can be a hospital emergency room, a divorce, job loss, or any event or season that represents heartache and or hardship. Your “house of mourning” can change throughout your life.
In the “house of mourning” we become solemn – solemnly serious. This is the disposition in prayer that Peter desired for God’s people. In some translations, the word “serious” is sometimes translated as “clear-minded”. I had never before associated the two words “clear-minded” and “serious” until I studied 1 Peter 4:7. Have you ever chastised your child whom was acting up, and while trying to instruct her you ask her to quit clowning around and “get serious”? I have. We do this because we want our children to be able to comprehend what we are saying to them. Seriousness allows for clear-mindedness. And when we are clear-minded we are more able to hear from God in our prayers.
So how do we become solemnly serious for prayer? I recommend finding your “house of mourning.” What vexes your soul? What hurts your heart? For me, it is abused and neglected children. In particular, it is two little twin boys whom were in foster care at my church. They had been abused in both imaginable and unimaginable ways. I loved them like they were my own and spent as much time with them as I could. I wanted to adopt them, but it was not part of God’s plan for us. When I begin to pray over my prayer petitions, I start with these two sweet little boys, and I am quickly in my “house of mourning”.
Is there a group of people you find yourself interceding for on a regular basis? Is there some burden you are carrying for a hurting soul? Whatever it is that carries you to your “house of mourning” use it during your prayer time. Our prayer petitions are precious and deserving of serious prayer.