The NASB reads “sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”
ESV“be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
AMPLIFIED: “keep sound minded and self-restrained and alert…”
I think you’ll remember how much I’ve enjoyed the study notes from the Discovery Bible so I thought I would share the notes on the word we see translated as sober in the KJV.
My overall thought through this study is without this place of thinking correctly, as in, according to the thoughts of God, we can NEVER pray effectively. This causes me to consider James 4:3regarding ‘asking amiss’ and 1 John 5:14 where ‘our confidence’ for answered prayer is fixed on praying according to His will.
Isaiah 55:7 reads “Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. Verse 9 goes on to tell us His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, but in saying that, it does not say we cannot hold His thoughts. Note we our to forsake our wrong thoughts and return to Him, which by implication would mean hold his thoughts and ways.Jesus has been made unto us wisdom and we have been given the mind of Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth. Thus, like in James 5:16, we are assured our prayers are righteous and avail much.
Here are the notes from Discovery Bible on sober: (please excuse the length but it’s all so good)
4993 sōphronéō – properly, safety-minded; having an outlook regulated by true balance. See 4998 (sōphrōn).
[This word-family (root, sōphro-) comes from two words: sōos ("safe") and phrēn ("what regulates life," the root of the English term, "diaphram"). Example: An opera singer controls the length (quality) of their tones by their diaphragm, which also controls breathing and moderates heartbeat. This is "safety" for the body because it is properly regulated.]
1. 4993/sōphroneō ("thinking smart") for the believer is hearing God's voice and doing what they hear (cf. Gal 3:2-5) – i.e. "staying on God's line" by living in faith (4102/pístis, "the Lord's inworked persuasion"). Accordingly 4993 (sōphronéō) and faith (4102/pístis) are directly connected.
Ro 12:3: "For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment (4993/sōphronéō), as God has allotted to each a measure of faith (4102/pístis)" (NASB).
Reflection: The Holy Spirit does more than reveal what is wrong. He also reveals what is right (gutsy!) . . . which means living on "God's line"! Compare Jn 16:8-13 with Phil 4:8,9. For believers, 4993/sōphronéō ("think shrewdly") reflects what God defines as true moderation. This God-controlled perspective blends the extremities of truth on both sides of a matter.
2. Showing true moderation (4993/sōphronéō) brings the Lord's fullness (His maximum). "Fullness-living" lives up to our privileges in Christ (on "God's line") – boldly, at "His resolution-point" (compare Eph 3:16-19 with Jn 10:10).
Reflection: True moderation is often more "risky" and more "conservative" than what people think is "moderate!" We sin by going over God's line to "impress" people – or under it because of fear (living in compromise).
In brief ~ 4993/sōphroneō ("thinking smart") involves hearing (obeying) God's voice which alone defines true moderation. This acts with "extreme-balance" which blends "both sides" of the truth-spectrum (Ecc 3:1f, 7:18). Having this "presence (prudence) of mind" prevents us from committing the common sin of longing for more than what God has apportioned to us . . . and failing to appreciate what He has given.
Exemplifying biblical moderation is not "self"-control in the ordinary sense. Rather it shows the Holy Spirit bringing His "radical balance" into each scene of our lives – discerned through faith (cf. Tit 2:2-9) and doing what God considers necessary (Tit 2:2,5,6).
Reflection: Real balance honors "God's line" which He reveals what is "more important." This subordinates what is transient (passing) to what is eternal. 4994 (sōphronizō) and 4993 (sōphronéō) are both verbs formed from the same root (4998/sōphrōn). 4994 (sōphronizō) emphasizes passing on what the Lord reveals is true balance. 4993 (sōphroneō) exemplifies a settled state of mind that embraces what the Lord defines is true (radical) moderation
To sum it up ~ this state of mind has the ability to pray effectively into any and every situation and I find that very encouraging.