Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:17-21

If You Pray...

When does your prayer become merely rote? How do you fight against boredom of prayer by habit?

Popular Translation

17 God the Father judges everyone fairly by their actions. If you pray to the Father, then live every moment of your life in God's presence. 18 You should know that you were ransomed from the useless behavior your parents passed on to you. Silver and gold that tarnishes was not paid to save you. 19 No, the precious blood of Jesus was the payment that saved you. He is the lamb who is blameless and who never sinned. 20 God knew him before the creation of the universe. But, God showed Jesus to you in these last days. 21 You have faith in God through Jesus. God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory in heaven. So, your faith and hope should be in God alone.

Literal Translation

17 If you call upon (the) Father, the (One) judging without regard for one's status, according to the works of each, conduct your time of journey (in life) in fear, 18 having know that, not by corruptible silver or gold, you were ransomed from your futile behavior passed on (to you) by your ancestors, 19 but in the precious blood of Christ as the blameless and sinless lamb, 20 (HE) having been known before the foundation of the world but having been revealed in the last days for you, 21 the (ones being) faithful through HIM to God having raised HIM from the dead and having given HIM glory, so that your faith and hope (are) to be in God.

1:17-21 This long sentence revealed a common rhetorical device in ancient Greek, hooking clauses onto the end of sentences. The main thought of the sentence can be found in 1:17-19. Basically stated, the sentence says, "If you pray to God the Father who judges impartially according to one's actions, live your life in holy fear because you know that your were not ransomed from your useless behavior that your parents passed on to you with silver or gold that tarnishes, but with the blood of Christ, the blameless and sinless lamb." From this point, the author merely added clauses onto the sentence. The first clause (found in 1:20) hooked onto the figure of Christ and stated his presence in time (known by the Father at the beginning, revealed in the end times to his audience "you"). The next clause (found in 1:21) hooked onto the audience ("you") as those who believed in God through Christ. The sentence ended with admonition that the audience should place their faith and hope in God alone.

1:17 "without regard for one's status" is literally "not receiving face." The concept of "face" was important in ancient society; "presenting face" meant the person had a place and a presence at royal court. Without such "face," the person had no influence. In America, we have a similar concept for face; "saving face" means protecting one's dignity in a losing situation; "face time" means time in the public arena (usually in the media).

1:21 "the (ones being) faithful through HIM to God" The author addressed his audience as the "faithful," but the faith of his audience had a direction. Christians believe in God through the person of Jesus Christ.

Prayer should be more than words. It should be a mind set. When we pray we are before God. We should remember who hears our words. We should act as if he is present to us when we pray. This is the notion of holy fear. God is our creator; we are his creatures.

Unfortunately, prayer does become rote, something of habit. We might direct our words to God, but we forget he is present. Like the harsh critique of a shallow part of an actor, sometimes we "phone in" our requests; our petitions are present, but our hearts and awareness are elsewhere.

The author of 1 Peter reminds us that we should put our faith and hope in God because of what he did for us (and still does for us). He made Christ known to us. He rose Christ from the dead and gave him glory. Through his death and resurrection we were freed from sin and death. So, our lives should change. The life habits we inherited from our parents are not good enough. We should live as if our lives were living prayer.

There is a connection between prayer and life. Prayer is not to be just a part of life. In fact, prayer is the practice for life in the Kingdom. For, in the Kingdom we will forever pray, giving glory and praise to God. So, living life as if it were a constant prayer foreshadowing life in the Kingdom.

How is your prayer like your life? How is your life like your prayer? How can you live in the "Light"?