Have you ever considered prayer as a trial under which you are tested (1:6)? There is no arena under which one’s faith is tested more than in prayer, and when it is thus tested and found to be genuine, it will result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:7).
Peter has called all believers to holiness of life (1:13–25), which is evidenced in four areas: (1) living stones in Christ’s spiritual house, (2) holy priests offering spiritual sacrifices (2:4–10), (3) honorable aliens sojourning in this vile world (2:11–3:22), and (4) diligent stewards of God’s varied grace (4:1–19). All this is necessary preparation for the final exhortation before us (5:5–11).
In this text Peter drills down on necessary aspects of faith with a list of instructions, all of which pertain to prayer. Citing James 4:6 and 10, he first points to the singular necessary principle for success in every test: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (v. 5b). No one can hope for success in getting answers to his prayers when God opposes him.
While not specifically mentioning prayer, every phrase in this passage involves praying. First, if you want God’s ear, humble yourself before Him (v. 6; 2 Chron. 7:14). Humbling moves the mighty hand of God to lift you up. The hand is symbolic of His great power to deliver His people (Psa. 98:1). Much of our prayer is pleading for deliverance, is it not? Indeed, prayer is an enigmatic work of weak and powerless children through which He moves to act in mighty power. “Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us” (Psa. 68:28; Jer. 33:3; James 5:16). Humble, fervent, believing, earnest prayer gets God’s ear and moves His hand in powerful and effective ways. It lifts up and exalts the praying saint and gets glory to God.
Second, the closet of prayer is also the dumping ground for worldly cares (v. 7). Quoting from Psalm 55:22, Peter exhorts the burdened heart to cast or hurl its burden on the Lord. This casting is a participle: being part of the humbling process, it also involves praying. Worldly cares reflect unbelief; they distract and unduly burden the Christian life. These must be given to the Lord. Interestingly, this whole section mirrors James’s instructions on drawing near to God (James 4:6–10).
The great object of our praying is our warfare against Satan (v. 8). We need to take the devil on in the closet, wrestling in prayer (Eph. 6:12; 18–20). We are to “resist him, firm in faith.” We are not alone this, for “the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (v. 9). Jesus defeated Satan on the cross; the saints carry this victory to the prayer closet.
The fruit of this suffering—and praying is suffering—is that “the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (vv. 10, 11).