Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.1 Peter 3:7
Most everybody prays sometimes. Maybe it’s only from a foxhole where it is said there are no atheists. But this kind of panic prayer does not make for a powerful life of prayer characterized by Divine answers to intercessions on behalf of others.
We know that the Scriptures are not written as a list of helpful tips on making your best life now, but Peter comes close to it in his first epistle. Three times he links certain behavior to our prayers. This list is made up of three classic exhortations similar to Paul’s exhortations to put off old behaviors and put on Christ and his lifestyle.
Living a life of submission
The first connection is at the end of a list of four statements encouraging the believers to live a life of submission (1 Peter 2:13-3:7). First is a general admonition to all believers to live in submission to the governing authorities. Living this way will silence the fools who are maligning you. The section ends with, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.” I risk offending some by asking whether or not our behavior toward our President may be hindering our prayers. Think about this one for a minute regardless of who our President is.
Submission to masters
He then moves on to give specific instructions to servants. Respect your masters even if they are complete jerks or worse. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” Our contemporary application in the United States is to employers rather than masters. How do you relate to your employer?
Submission to husbands
Wives are the next category of folks called to submission, this time to their husbands. This includes unbelieving husbands. There is a clear redemptive purpose in a wife’s submission to her husband, “they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” This section opens with the word, likewise. That means it is to be seen just like the other admonitions to submission to human authority and to the masters of slaves.
Submission to wives
There is another likewise in the final admonition to submission. It is for husbands. The word submission isn’t there, but the characteristics of a submissive person are there. The husband is to live with his wife in an understanding way, showing her honor as the weaker vessel. Peter caps this off with “so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Peter makes it clear that a life that is not lived in submission to God and his order in Christ will be hindered when it comes to prayer. To remove hindrances to your prayer life, examine yourself to see if you are living a life of submission according to the Scriptures.
Living a life of practical righteousness
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For
“Whoever desires to love life1 Peter 3:8-12
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
The second tip for answered prayer is related to the first. “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” Peter goes on in 1 Peter 3:8-12 to describe the conduct of a righteous man and quotes from Psalm 34:12-16 which ends with
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”Psalm 34:16
We always have to look carefully at the context when the word righteousness is used. Sometimes it refers to the righteousness of Christ which has been credited to our account on the basis of grace through faith. Other times it refers to practical righteousness, not imputed righteousness. In other words, it refers to how we live our lives from day to day. In this context, it refers to practical righteousness, how we actually live. It includes things like unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. The book of Psalms says God’s ears are open to our prayer when we exhibit such behavior.
Living a life of submission to the Spirit
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.1 Peter 4:7
The third admonition is to live in light of the end of all things and be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers (1 Peter 4:7). Here the implication of self-control is to curb one’s passions. Sober refers to being calm and collected in spirit; to be temperate, dispassionate and circumspect. All of these qualities require a Spirit-led life. So, Peter is essentially telling us that we are to live in the Spirit for the purpose of prayer.
To sum up, the effectiveness of our prayer life is affected by our life of submission to human institutions such as government, employers (masters), and spouses; a life of practical righteousness; and a life of submission to the Holy Spirit.
I encourage you to take a bit of time with Jesus and ask him how you are doing in these three areas of your life and whether or not they are hindering your prayer life. If he shows you areas that are not as he wants them, repent and renounce the offending behavior. As you draw near to Jesus, he will draw near to you.