February 2014

4 Things Every Watchman Must Do

The ministry of a watchman is a form of prayer that is focused on praying for God’s purposes and protection over a specific people, geographical area and/or nation. It requires dedication, focus, consistency and perseverance. The watchman’s passion is to discern the will of God and pray it into existence. Simply put, the watchman is called to watch and pray. (See the blog post The Watchman Calling.)

While everyone is commanded in the Scriptures to be sober, vigilant and watchful for the purpose of prayer not everyone has a specific calling and gifting to be a watchman.

Those with a watchman calling could be likened to the person standing next to a wall who is gifted with sufficient stature to simply look over the wall for prolonged views of the other side. For those without such stature extra effort is required, with a leap or a ladder for even a limited view.

However, regardless of anyone’s calling, it is beneficial for all of us, watchmen and non-watchmen alike, to consider how to grow and function more effectively in the watching and praying ministry.

Here then, from a Biblical overview, are the four essential functions of the prayer ministry of the watchman. An effective watchman is engaged in . . .

The Watchman Calling

“Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41 ESV

Watching and praying or what the Bible refers to as being a spiritual “watchman” may be the most critically important aspect of prayer that there is. The very nature of being a watchman requires staying awake, alert and vigilant to perceive what is happening. It also demands taking the appropriate steps of obedience of faith to either stop it, avoid it, or prepare to endure it. Jesus’ challenge to His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane to “watch and pray” illustrates this truth like none other. His agony expressed in prayer was directly linked to His watching to see what His Father was showing Him and His obedient response. Tragically, His disciples were sleeping instead of watching and praying. As a result they found themselves unprepared for what was about to unfold. Unfortunately, it is an all too familiar portrait of the condition of most churches today with regard to watchful prayer.

Structure and Spontaneity in Prayer

One of the biggest challenges with regard to prayer is to develop a frequent, extended time of prayer that is at the same time energizing and sustainable over the long haul. Since prayer is the means by which we communicate with God, who is our creator and the lover of our souls, why should it not be so? I am of the strong conviction that indeed it can be so and is in fact our rightful inheritance as children of God.

But how is it possible? The secret lies in utilizing and blending two seemingly incongruous approaches to prayer – structure and spontaneity. I share this out of my own experiences in the trenches of prayer and the observation of the experience of many others. But most importantly a strong case can be made from both a Biblical perspective and common historical practice that developing a vibrant and sustainable prayer life depends upon striking a balance between structure and spontaneity.

But before I delve into the practicalities of how to do that let me define the terms I have chosen to describe the kind of prayer life I believe God intends for each of us to have. In the opening sentence I described the ideal prayer life with four words: frequent, extended, energizing and sustainable.

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