This is one of those times when I wonder what the guys who divided the Bible into chapters and verses were thinking. To me verse one fits in clearly with the preceding chapter. Slaves are told to obey their masters, and now masters are told to treat their slaves with justice and fairness, knowing that they also have a Master in heaven.
People like to be in charge of others. Since my six year old daughter longs to be in charge, she tries to boss her three year old younger brother around and manipulate him. He in turn bosses around the dog. (And you know they would both love to boss me around whenever possible!) Across America all sorts of people are running for all sorts of offices, possibly out of a servant’s heart but probably because they think things would be better if they were in charge instead of the other guy! In whatever positions of authority we find ourselves, we must remember that we too are slaves of God. Since we are all slaves, none of us is better than another. All of us are responsible for seeking justice and fairness in the world.
"Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies" (Westminster Catechism).
Our church is in the midst of a Prayer Awakening Revival, and our youth Bible Study lesson this morning was also about prayer. Years before Paul wrote this letter, Peter and John were arrested for healing a man and giving glory to Jesus. The ruling religious leaders were in a quandary. Many people had witnessed the healing of the man and were very excited. But the leaders could not allow political or spiritual instability in Jerusalem or growth of the Jesus movement. So they came up with what they thought was a great compromise. They let Peter and John go with the admonition to speak no longer in the name of Jesus. (The disciples made it clear that they would obey God, not the edict of the council.) When the two men returned to their prayer group, the whole assembly joined together in one heart to pray. They did not pray for deliverance, protection, or divine annihilation of their enemies. They simply asked God to take notice of their situation, consider the threats against them, and allow them to speak with great boldness. They requested signs and wonders to affirm that they were within God's will, not surprising since so many religious leaders were against them, and the whole place was shaken. All were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and began proclaiming Jesus. That's some sign that they were in the will of God!
It's unlikely that the walls of my church will shake in the midst of our prayer revival, but it is absolutely possible that my local body could be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, unable to do anything but proclaim the truth of Jesus. Paul instructs believers to be devoted to prayer, keeping alert with an attitude of thankfulness. Spiritually breathing throughout the day, we inhale the Word and exhale prayer. We keep alert for the answers to our prayers and how He would have us respond to the world around us. We maintain an attitude of thankfulness, even when the situation would seem dire to unbelievers - remembering that no matter what happens on this earth the grace and love of God for us was settled at the cross. Above all, our prayer should be that God will open doors for us and others to speak the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we must be willing to act when he reveals what He is calling us to do!
Prayer is the most important conversation that you will ever hold, the most important expression of the new life. You see, prayer is the divinely appointed weapon' against the sinister attack of the devil and his angels. Prayer is the vehicle for confession of sin. Prayer is the means by which the grateful soul pours out its spontaneous praise before the throne of God. Prayer is the voice of the weeping soul calling on the sympathetic high priest in the time of need. Prayer is the intercession of the concerned Christian who calls on divine resources in behalf of another's trouble. Prayer is the simple conversation of the beloved child with the caring Father as they talk of love. - John MacArthur