When Christians hear the word watch and pray, they always think it entails “tarry night”, but this sermon is going to help you understand better.
“Watch therefore and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36).
Synonyms of the word “watch”.
So many Christians misunderstand the figurative meaning of the word ‘watch’, which is found in its various synonyms:
- To be or remain awake.
- Look at, see or view.
- Notice or pay attention.
- Mind, attend, or guide.
- Be wary or cautious, to be vigilant.
- Act as a lookout.
- Remain awake with a sick or dying person.
- Maintain a vigil etc.
And because they lack the proper understanding of the watch Jesus was referring to in the above passage; they over emphasize it in observing sleepless nights of prayers which they termed as ‘tarry night’.
If you get close and listen to their prayer points; you will discover that, they are even begging Jesus to bless them with the very cares of life He warned us about in the presiding verses i.e, 34 and 35.
Even if some of them are tarrying to say the prayer point Jesus gave above; the night time shouldn’t be the only time we have to be watchful in prayers.
Rather we should do that at all times and in all places.
How the idea of tarry night came about.
I am convinced that this idea of tarry night came as a result of Jesus telling us He will come like a thief in the night.
And for this reason, the believers concluded that the night time is when Jesus will come; forgetting that He had stated plainly that no one, even Himself or the angels, knows the hour or day.
In order to have a proper understanding that Jesus was not referring to the tarry night we witness our churches do today; let us outline and examine another eschatological statement He made that relates to the need to watch:
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him. (Mathew 24:42-44)
Now what Jesus was trying to tell us here is the fact that the human being has an obligation to keep guard or watch his house so that thieves might not invade and do away with his properties.
It is worthy to note here that since the rich man will not be able to keep guard or watch by himself he must hire a watchman whose duty is to do such.
The word ‘pray’ which also means prayer has been defined severally, but I agree with the definition that sees prayer as an act of communicating with God or the Divine.
Prayer is found in nearly all the religions on earth; but let us review the different ways to pray in Christendom.
Different ways to pray in Christendom.
There are different ways to pray in Christendom which includes the following:
Thanksgiving as the name implies is the act of showing appreciation to God by way of thanks.
The bible itself helps us to understand in Hebrews 13:15 that thanksgiving is the only gift human beings can offer to God.
Thanksgiving as a way to pray entails thinking of what the Lord has dnone and keeps doing in your life, and thanking Him for them.
Adoration is that act of praising God for Who and What He is.
You can even do this through singing, either with or without instruments.
To make this kind of prayer, you have to ponder on the awesomeness of God, being able to create the world, human beings and every other thing that exists.
Contrition can simply be understood as a prayer for forgiveness.
Infact the bible says that sin is what creates a barrier between God and humans and cause Him not to hear nor answer our prayers.
So if you need the answer to your prayers, you must ensure you make a prayer of contrition so that God can take away that barrier, that is sin.
Petition is simply asking God for whatever you need in life.
The bible says in Psalm 24:1 that the earth and everything in it, including we human beings belong to God.
And in James 1:17 it says that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of light in Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
So whatever you want in life, you need to ask it from God by way of petition.
What it really means to watch and pray.
The two ways you can watch and pray according to our Lord Jesus are:
- Lookin out for the occasions of sin.
- Praying for the grace to overcome temptations.
1. Looking out for the occasions of sin.
From the above scripture and illustration I gave, we can come to the perfect understanding that when Jesus used watch and pray in the above teaching, He was telling us to be on the lookout for the occasions of sin that invades us on a daily, so we could be able to avoid them.
In other words, He simply told us to watch out for those things that are likely to make us sin so we can be able to overcome them.
You might call them temptations if you like.
For instance, if you, as a man of God, observes a lady who dresses indecently showcasing herself repeatedly in your presence and trying to make advances at you, maybe in the church premises or place of work or just anywhere.
You must first of all recognize that this is the devil’s means of trying to make you fall into the sin of sexual immorality.
2. Pray for grace to overcome temptations.
And afterwards pray God for the grace to overcome this temptation, and also try finding a way of cautioning the girl to dress decently and if she refuses you must keep away anytime she comes in view.
Don’t think that because you have the Spirit, sexual urges have died totally in you.
Remember David had the Spirit but he couldn’t resist taking Uriah’s wife to bed after overlooking her bathing naked.
Now knowing that we won’t be able to keep guard over the house by ourselves He gave us a prayer point which is intended to draw the Spirit of God to assist us according to the promise.
“I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:27).
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, “even the Spirit of truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, for He dwells in you and will be in you. (John 14:15-16).
Finally, we can understand that the night time is much safer for us, because by then we would be asleep and there is no sin that the devil will be able to tempt us into committing.
And from there we can see the need to watch and pray more by day than night.
I know this truth will be hard to accept by our Christian brothers and sisters who are living in fear of witches and wizards attack, who are not certain of the highest security they have in the one Who created everything, both good and evil, who do not know that they should waste their energy more on doing good things because no harm always come to such people.
And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? (1 Peter 3:13)
Yes! Because the Creator Himself has told them to keep calm at all times, even while asleep, since He is the One Who fights for them.
“The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace. (Exodus 14:14).