The call to watch and pray is strongly encouraged throughout the Bible as a safeguard against evil, particularly at times when there is a sense of urgency and/or an awareness of being vulnerable.
watch and pray
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NAS “Temptations to …
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 ESV
Recently I discovered a great book about resisting temptation, which remarkably is not written from a religious perspective. It is a fascinating read. It provides a very helpful study in understanding the various factors that make people susceptible to and able to resist temptation.
The name of the book is “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.” Written by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney it documents findings from voluminous social science and brain research focused on the human ability to exercise willpower, self-control and resist temptation. Truth is truth no matter where one finds it and it is always instructive to see how empirical research confirms and enlightens Biblical truth.
Baumeister cites from his research that the average person spends four hours every day resisting temptation. Wow! That certainly verifies what the Apostle Paul wrote two thousand years ago, that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” We all have to admit that temptation is an everyday reality.
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 . . .
“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.