“But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” Matthew 24:43
Whenever Jesus urged His disciples to “watch and pray” it was always with the intention that they be protected from harm and prepared for what is coming. (Mark 13:33, 14:38 & Luke 21:36 etc.) The call upon God’s people to be engaged in a “watchman” ministry goes back to the Old Testament. There we see numerous instances where individuals were commissioned at critical times to take positions in strategic places to be on the lookout for danger, warn people and if possible ward it off. (Ezekiel 3:17, 33:1-9, Isaiah 62:6-7)
That same call to prayer with a watchful attitude is still a mandate for the church today. Both Paul and Peter, as apostles writing to New Testament believers urged the continued ministry of watchful prayer. Paul writes, “Stay alert [watching] and be persistent in your prayer for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT) Peter says a very similar thing. “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” (1 Peter 4:7)
Both apostles convey that same urgency we see from Jesus when it comes to exercising the power of prayer in preparedness for and fending off evil in our lives.
Several years ago the Lord gave me a very practical encouragement in this regard. It showed me that watching and praying really does fend off evil. And it illustrates the reality of the analogy Jesus used when He said “if the owner of the house had known at what time the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” Matthew 24:43
A remarkable thing happened early Friday morning during our church’s week of prayer and fasting. (Bridgewood Community Church) We had scheduled 6 AM prayer meetings at the church each morning that week and I was on my way there when I received a cell phone call from the church’s security company. The caller informed me that a door had been opened in the building and it was setting off the alarm since no security code had been entered. Since I was just minutes away I told her I would be there shortly and check things out. I assumed someone coming to the prayer meeting had arrived at the church, had a key but perhaps did not enter the code correctly.
When I arrived the building was as dark as the predawn sky but one car was parked in the parking lot with its lights on. I drove up to the car and discovered it was one of our parishioners who had arrived early and was sitting there waiting. That was puzzling to me because they had not attempted to go into the building. So who had set off the alarm? I called the security company. In talking to the person on duty I discovered that the alarm was initially set off when a back door into the youth room was breached at 5:51 AM. Surprisingly, just two minutes later at 5:53 AM the back door of the sanctuary was also breached.
Upon further investigation here is what we pieced together must have happened. Sometime on the day before, the back door of the youth room had been intentionally unlocked. It likely was done by a young man whom a staff member, upon recollection, said they had noticed in the building the day before because he looked unfamiliar. The building was open all day and into the evening for public prayer so access to the building by anyone and everyone was unrestricted.
That same young man we surmised, had returned early Friday under cover of darkness with the intention of burglarizing the church.
What he did not bargain for was the fact that an early-morning prayer meeting was scheduled to begin the same time he was making his break in. Just after his entry, as he was making his way into the building proper near the lobby, he saw car lights approaching down the driveway. Frightened, he ran through the sanctuary and out the back door. He had only been in the building two minutes with no time to take anything.
We praised God profusely for His protection in that instance, but it gave us serious pause. It stands yet today as a sober encouragement that watchful prayer does make a huge difference in our lives. What thievery by the evil one, what temptation and hardship, have all been avoided by giving regular time to watchful prayer? Praise God, only heaven will tell. But conversely, how much thievery, temptation and hardship could have been avoided if we had simply watched and prayed?
That points us right back to the two simple phrases Jesus taught all of us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” In that same spirit, may each of us make a fresh commitment to weaving watching and praying into the fabric of our daily lives. It does make a difference!!
Click Here for an email subscription to this blog