“Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication
for the saints.” Ephesians 6:18 (KJV)
As we continue our discussion on prayer, I’d like to offer another practice to incorporate into your prayer life and that is the practice of “watchfulness”. “Watch and pray” has been a rally call for the saints since the recording of biblical history. Whether the call came from Nehemiah and the builders of the Jerusalem wall (Neh. 4:9) or from those who would stand for the LORD (Jer. 51:12; Hab. 2:1), dedication to these two activities has been a resounding recipe for victory. In our text today, watching and praying is a critical strategy to employ as believers engage in spiritual battle against Satan and his evil minions. While this letter was written by the Apostle Paul to the church of Ephesus over a thousand years ago, it still holds wise counsel for believers today.
Paul writes this letter from prison concerning conflicts which have risen between the Jewish and Gentile believers. Rather than maintaining every effort to maintain “unity in the faith” (Eph. 4:3-4), these new Christians had forgotten that the real enemy was Satan—“not flesh and blood, but the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12, NLT). They are exhorted to “stay alert and be persistent in their prayers for all Christians everywhere.”
This rendering of “watching” (agrpneo) is used in the New Testament only four (4) times with the first two found in the Gospels (Mark 13:33; Luke 2:36). In these accounts Jesus speaks to his disciples about watching as it relates to end times and their readiness for His imminent return. Jesus warns them to be “circumspect, attentive, and ready.” The author of Hebrews uses watching to encourage “constant vigilance over someone or something”. The image is one drawn from shepherds and their watch over their sheep. It conveys the seriousness with which spiritual leaders, “those who have rule over you”, are to exercising constant vigilance over their human flock (Hebrews 13:17).
In our study text of Ephesians 6:18, Paul uses watch to encourage his readers “to be intentional” in their prayers; and their prayers were to focus specifically on the saints of God. Why? Because Satan hates the church collectively and believers individually. Satan especially targets the Church and believers in order to discredit our witness, to discourage our service for the Lord, and to destroy us—spiritually, physically, and emotionally (1 Pet. 5:8).
Jesus was intentional in His prayers for His disciples and His future Church.
Are we then exempted from responsibility to pray for one another? Are spiritual and moral failures within the church a result of human frailty or are they the casualty of “our failure to pray” and cover our brothers in Christ? Let us in our daily prayers include those who battle alongside us for the Kingdom of God. Let no believer fall from Satan’s attack as a result of our failure to “watch and pray.”
SELAH: Ask the Holy Spirit to show you who He wants you to be more “watchful” for in your daily prayers. Look for those outside your immediate friends and family.