The Essence of Prayer
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
When Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States, he was tasked with leading a fractured nation. Lincoln is viewed as a wise leader and a man of high moral character, but another element to his makeup, perhaps, was the foundation for everything else. He understood that he was inadequate for the task at hand. His response to that inadequacy? Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
When we come to grips with the massive nature of life’s challenges and the severe limitations of our own wisdom, knowledge, or strength, we find, like Lincoln, that we are utterly dependent on Jesus—the One who has no limitations. Peter reminded us of this dependency when he wrote, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
God’s love for His children, paired with His absolute power, make Him the perfect Person to approach with our frailties—and that’s the essence of prayer. We go to Jesus acknowledging to Him (and ourselves) that we’re inadequate and He’s eternally sufficient. Lincoln said he felt he “had nowhere else to go.” But when we begin to comprehend God’s great care for us, that’s wonderfully good news. We can go to Him!
By Bill Crowder
In what ways do your inadequacies reveal themselves? How do you normally respond in those moments?
All-sufficient God, I know that without You I can do nothing. Thank You for always being with me, for perfectly knowing me, and for being my true Helper in times of need.
Read more about prayer.
Writing to believers experiencing persecution, Peter focuses on the need for humility as they rely on God to deliver them. Most scholars believe 1 Peter 5:6–11 represents an early Christian tradition of encouraging humility because of the presence of Satan. This idea is underscored by the fact that verses 6–9 show a striking similarity to James 4:6–7, 10. When the end of 1 Peter 5:5 is read along with verse 6, the similarities are even more evident. This shows that the idea of being humble and submitting to God when we’re confronted by our enemy was common in early Christianity. Verses 8–9 go on to describe how to effectively combat the devil through resistance, firm faith, and encouragement from the community of believers. James simply says to “resist the devil” (James 4:7). Peter and James call for both passive faith (submitting to God) and active faith (resisting the devil) from their readers.