Just before being arrested, Jesus tells His disciples to watch and pray. ‘Watch’ comes from a Greek word meaning to be alert, awake or vigilant. Intent, awake in order to guard, close observation. Spiritually speaking it is to be awake and alert spiritually in order to be on guard.
On guard for what? The wiles of the devil and the working of the divine. That’s what was the key issue in the garden of Gethsemane– discerning where God or satan was at work.
Watching means to develop discernment. Discernment means to separate truth from falsehood; better to detect and understand a distinction from that which is of God and that which is not.
Most Christians are not discerning. Most do not always even understand when God is speaking to them and when He is not. This is due to the neglect of our personal lives. The spirit of God communicates to us through prayer, Bible study, other Christians, and circumstances. Since many neglect most of these we have only a part of what God is saying to us. For this reason, most Christians don’t know how to distinguish, detect or understand anything other than the most obvious things that aren’t of God– they rely on feelings.
That’s why watching is so important. It is a time of examination, of peering closer and magnifying everything with the Illuminator. Ephesians 6 describes the armor of God and to conclude the passage, Paul commands the Christians in Ephesus to watch and be alert, continuing in prayer always.
Fatigue is often a harm in our prayer, and decreases our ability to watch, because it takes a clarity of mind that is not at our disposal when we are tired and our minds aren’t sharp. It also makes us more susceptible to sin….Why? We are not as discerning and do not recognize satantic snares as quickly. We are reactionary. Watching then is not an idle activity but an active one that requires diligence and vigilance.
To watch, we must make ourselves aware of satan’s work to hinder our prayer. He tries to, through various means, distract us from prayer in the first place. Don’t allow satan to draw you from the important prayer issues. Satan works trough fatigue, though distractions, through anything to keep our minds from being alert.
We should keep from praying using meaningless repetition and many words. This can also be tools of satan and may actually weaken our prayer, because we dilute our request or distort it into uselessness. Take time to be aware of the wiles of the devil throughout your life and the world. Where is he at work in the community, the nation, or the world? Become aware of it. Develop discernment and alertness and pray against such things.
Watching also means to become more aware of God’s working throughout the world. How is He acting and what is He wanting to do?
There are several things we can do to better watch for God’s working, to be aware of His presence and alert to His voice. Read material that aids you in becoming aware of specific global Christian needs, such as mission awareness books and publications, as well as news material. Newspaper, the radio, television, and news magazines can all inform us of what’s going on in the world, where God and satan are working. Merely looking around can also be a powerful way to watch for and discern God’s work. Weather disasters, picket lines, strikes, world crises, church crises, government actions and other things can all reveal God’s work to us.
Finally, ask the Spirit of God to show you how to react to it. James 1:5 tells us to ask the Spirit for wisdom. We need wisdom from on High. If He doesn’t guide our prayer as we watch, we could be misled.
Watching involves God revealing His mind to us, like 1 Corinthians 2 says, and allowing us to see those mysteries, in a spiritual way. As we are allowed into this realm, we begin to really identify with these items, and like Ephesians 6 says, we persevere for the saints with supplication, because God ignites our compassion and spiritual sensitivity.
We must watch to gain this sensitivity and discernment. This will cause us to pray more specifically, clearly, directly and hence, more powerfully and in line with the desires of God.