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 . . .

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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.

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Could it have been avoided?

The senseless mass murder at the Naval Ship Yard in our nation’s capital this week raises many questions. Not the least of which “could it have been avoided?” Many things, as with past massacres such as the Newtown School shootings less than a year ago, are under consideration that shoulda woulda coulda been done to prevent such tragedies. But I have not heard, at least through secular media, even a hint or suggestion that it could have been avoided through prayer. To even suggest that prayer might have headed off such a tragedy doubtless jars the sensibilities of some, but let us stop for a moment and consider it as a possibility.

In the bible, both Old and New Testaments there are numerous accounts of earnest, concentrated prayer being made where tragedy was thereby averted Jerusalem’s last minute deliverance from its own imminent demise when surrounded by the Assyrians during the reign of King Hezekiah was a direct and miraculous answer to prayer. And the Apostle Peter’s eleventh hour escape from prison and certain death directly coincided with a prayer meeting that was focused on his behalf. (2 Kings 19 & Acts 12:5-16)

And even more noteworthy is the fact that throughout the Bible God actually encourages individuals to take up positions as watchmen in prayer specifically for the purpose of being a safeguard against evil. Many of the prophets, including Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah and Habakkuk were specifically called by God as watchmen to intercede on behalf of God’s purposes in the nations. God told Isaiah “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6-7 NIV)

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A Heavenly Perspective on Prayer

“And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be . . .and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” Jeremiah 29:7

Recently I was on a late evening flight from Chicago to Minneapolis. I happened to have a window seat, which I usually eschew because of my gangly frame and long legs. It was a clear night and I found great delight in looking out the window at all the lights demarcating the expressways, streets, businesses and homes of Chicago as we climbed into the night sky and headed west. It wasn’t long before the earth below grew dark there were far with less concentration of lights and as we made our way over Northern Illinois and into Wisconsin as the intriguing clusters of lights extending to the black horizon stirred my imagination.

Across the moonless landscape I was able to see towns of varying sizes and shapes with their distinctive lighting patterns illuminated primarily by their street lights. But I also noticed scattered here and there solitary lights coming from rural family farms and what I imagined to be isolated business located along the roads connecting people and the greater clusters of lights to one another

As I sat and marveled at the clarity with which I was seeing the earth below from my perspective at 40,000 feet, I began to imagine what it must be like for God to look down from heaven in search of those whose hearts are turned toward Him in prayer and intercession. I could just envision that each one of those lights represented some devout person who was at that very moment praying earnestly to God. That as it were, they were night watchmen literally illuminating the darkness around them by their intercession. As they stood in the gap before God on behalf of their families and communities and they were building up a hedge of protection against every demonic enemy, the darkness was being driven back. (Ezekiel 22:30)

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