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“Watch Therefore and Pray Always”

eyes watchWatch Therefore and Pray Always”

Looking toward the end times, Jesus admonished His disciples and future believers to, “Watch therefore, and pray always…” (Luke 21:36).

This was not the only occasion where Christ urged His disciples to “watch and pray”. On another instance after seeing that the disciples fell asleep as He was praying, He was grieved that they could not even pray with Him for an hour and warned them to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

What does Jesus Christ mean when He said that we need to be watching and praying?

Jesus’ word to “watch,” is taken from one of two Greek words (gregoreuo and agrupneo), which have similar meanings—to “stay awake” and to “be sleepless.” They are usually meant in the literal and metaphorical sense—to be on guard and vigilant, alert and fully awake, to be aware, and intently focused.

This meaning has two (2) very important applications.

In Matthew 26:37-41, the meaning of “watch” is primarily physical and external. Jesus chided the disciples for not being awake during the hour before His arrest. What Jesus said to Peter had the application of watching or guarding the surroundings around him as well as fighting against the physical weakness to temptation: “The spirit (intention/desire) indeed is willing, but the flesh (body/strength) is weak.” (Matthew 26:41).

On this instance, watching signifies external and physical preparedness coupled with prayer that gives one the understanding, wisdom, discernment, and strength to go through difficult situations.

Mark recorded Jesus saying: “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch” (Mark 13:33-34). This means that watching is not passive, it involves being actively working in God’s work, and to be accountable in what we are entrusted with.

The parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-35 (Luke 21:29-33) also reminds us of the need for constant discernment concerning the "time and seasons" in which we live in. We cannot afford to be oblivious for the things happening around us--may it moral decay, departure from the truth, wars, and economic troubles, persecutions, deceptions, and false messiahs coming our way.

In Luke’s account, Jesus tells us that “when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31). Then He warns about not letting “that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34). This was a clear indication that we need to be actively aware of the happenings, news and events all around us.

Jesus concluded by saying, “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). Our awareness to the current issues and conditions of the world gives us the discernment that helps us to be alert (‘escape’), as well as put us in a unique opportunity to intercede, and pray always “Thy kingdom come!”

Second and equally, if not the most important application: watching our internal or spiritual condition.

As Jesus’ words in Luke 21:34-35, reminds us very clearly,

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.”

His instruction is to watch ourselves, which is what “take heed to yourselves” means. Christ is talking about being vigilant about our own spiritual state, as well as being circumspect and spiritually awake as we go through life.

The parable of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) is very instructive of our need to be spiritually prepared and ready. Keeping one’s lamp filled with oil represents staying close to God and staying filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus concluded the parable by saying, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (verse 13).

As we “eagerly wait for” Christ’s return, not just passively wait around (Hebrews 9:28), Jesus was emphatic that our “lamps” should be burning in hope and anticipation for His return. We are to be always expectant and prayerful!

“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching ”(Luke 12:35-36).

Prophetically, Jesus echoed that point: “Behold, I am coming as a thief (meaning suddenly and unexpectedly ). Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Revelation 16:15).

Keep on watching and praying! Let’s live with the eager expectation and readiness for Jesus Christ’s return. The renewed preaching of gospel of the kingdom of God will remind us of the emminent end (Mathew 24:14); we can also expect for more persecutions to come (Matthew 24:9-10, 20-21), and we can pray for the strength “to pass through” all these (Luke 21:36). In turn, it will keep us focused, our lives pure and our hearts ready to meet Him!

Thus, Jesus summarizes it best with a sobering warning to all,

Mark 13:35-37:“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

1 Peter 4:7 “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”

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