Ephesians 6:18 – Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—NKJV
When I was in the military, in training, I was assigned several different duties that I was responsible for carrying out. Inevitably, I would be assigned watch duty. This required me standing at a gate on the base, for many hours, making sure that only “authorized” people were coming on the base. As each car pulled up to the gate, we checked for military identification and made sure that a military sticker was on the vehicle. Those without the proper credentials who needed or wanted to access the base were asked to pull over while we checked their credentials, or to turn their cars around. I am grateful that I had no incidents involving someone who wanted illegal access!
The whole purpose for watch duty was to make sure that those wanting access had a need to be on the base, resulting in providing protection for those on the base. Some people enjoyed this duty, while I considered it a mundane waste of time. And yet there was no denying that it was an important duty. Lives were at stake, and we were the first line of defense for keeping them safe. It was important that we were alert during watch to insure that nothing and no one got past us while we were at our post.
As I read the verse in Ephesians, the phrase, “being watchful” jumped out at me. Immediately following was a reminder of my time on watch duty. When I served watch duty, I served no matter the weather, the time of day or night, or how I felt. Watch duty was expected and necessary. When I think of watchfulness in the word, and its connection to prayer, I know that it requires an even greater sense of urgency and dedication in the life of the believer.
Typically when we teach on prayer or even think about prayer, we think of fasting and prayer. But scripture lets us know that watching and praying also go hand in hand. The word “watch” means, “being awake or alert”. Naturally and spiritually, being on watch requires alertness as we guard our lives against our enemies.
Remember in my previous post that I mentioned Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? Tonight, I return to that scene where Jesus spoke to His disciples:
Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41 – NKJV
Jesus mentions an important reasons for watching and praying: that we enter not into temptation. And this particular statement was made to Peter. My husband and I was just having a “what if” conversation about Peter. What would have happened if Peter would have watched and prayed? Would he have still denied Jesus? I don’t think so! What would have happened to Jesus’ prophecy? There would have been no need to warn Peter because He would have known that Peter would have spent that time on watch duty! How many things would we avoid, would be kept away from us if we took watch duty more seriously?
Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. Mark 13:33 – NKJV
Hear the words of Jesus: watch and pray about the day of His return. Be alert, aware, on guard! Don’t live life as if He isn’t coming back any time soon, for no one knows the day or the hour. He was so insistent that we remain watchful, that He said it three times in this passage alone. Watch! Don’t fall asleep! Wake up so that you are not caught unawares!
Peter finally got what Jesus was trying to tell him, so maybe that’s the real reason he had to experience it:
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 1 Peter 4:7 – NKJV
Prayer is serious business, and it requires watchfulness. Most people pray after something serious happens, but a watchful person prays before a thing happens. That’s the real message in watchfulness and prayer. Everything won’t be stopped at the door, but there is something to knowing the enemy is on the attack and being prepared for that attack. Watch duty keeps us alert to our surroundings and potential dangers. Each of us must be on alert!
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He said “pray that you are not led into temptation”. Isn’t that something? When you are watchful, you can avoid temptation and even sin! When you are watchful you can avoid or sidestep the attacks of the enemy! Just like in the military. Surely our bases are prepared for being breached, but it is much easier to keep the enemy out, than it is to have to deal with him once he gets access! That’s the power of watch duty! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have Jesus show us all the things that didn’t happen because we were watchful and we prayed? I think so!
As we were raising our children, we would never allow anyone to speak negative things over them. If someone did, I would just say something like, “I bind that in Jesus Name!” My husband and I were extremely watchful over our girls! If we saw something in our children that we didn’t think would lead to wise and godly choices, we prayed about it before it could come to fruition. One of our daughters was particularly stubborn as a toddler. I was told she would give me a hard time in her teen years. We didn’t wait for her teen years to pray or to deal with her stubbornness , we jumped right on that mess! We knew it wouldn’t be cute at 13, so it wasn’t cute at three!
One final word. Watchfulness requires honesty and a willingness to respond to what you see. When God showed me something about my children, I wouldn’t get worried, I would just say something like, “Ok, Lord! Show me how to pray!” And then I would pray! Or vice versa, when my husband would see something. We didn’t fall apart, we didn’t accept it as the way it would be, and we certainly didn’t enlighten our children to the future the devil had for them! No way! We canceled his assignments and his attacks in prayer! But we had to stay honest about what we saw and heard, and then get in line with God to change undesired behavior. Were we perfect parents? Not even! But we were and are watchful and prayerful!
You have been assigned to watch duty! No one can do it better! There will be times when it may even seem mundane, but it is most important! Your watchfulness can make the difference in your life, your family, and even your church. Get started today and still the hand of the enemy! I know you can do it! Wonderful Jesus!