Watch therefore and pray always
Pray without ceasing
1 Thessalonians 5:17
The literal translation of this verse in Luke begins:-“watch ye, then – in every season..” And the verse continues :- “praying…” Jesus sets an incredibly high standard – watching in every season and praying. Paul also sets a seemingly unreachable goal – pray without ceasing.
To watch in every season and pray without ceasing seems an unrealistic request, and yet we find both Christ and Paul giving believers a seemingly impossible task, but the physical action must be transliterated into a spiritual behaviour. Am I to be continually gazing out of the window or be forever crouched on my knees? Am I to neglect the daily duties of life or adopt the attitude of some pious monk?
Not at all. But the injunction is to keep Christ as the pivotal point of all life. We are to pray continuously in the spirit and to be always watchful in spirit and truth. Spiritual watching and spiritual praying are two sides of the same spiritual coin. The Pharisees and religious leaders failed to understand the ‘spirit’ of the Law. They became entangled in their attempts to perform the spiritual in the physical,` They tried to carry out the letter of the command rather than the godly principle.
We too must grasp the spirit of Christ’s earnest entreaties to watch and pray. We too must be unceasingly spiritual alert maintaining an unbroken attitude of heart. We are to clothe ourselves with a temperament of anticipated watchfulness. We are to develop a perspective of ceaseless prayerfulness. We are to watch and pray in spirit and in truth, at all times and without ceasing.
For what purpose are we implored to carry out this magnificent task….? Often it’s in the context of Christ’s return. We are to be spiritually ready for His return. Often it’s connected with Satan’s attacks and we must be spiritually equipped. We are to be ready: for we do not know the day or the time that our Lord will come.. but our readiness should not be in fear but a dear desire to be with the One we love. We are to be equipped: for the enemy is a roaring lion seeking who to devour, – but our alertness should be a deep concern to stand fast in the evil day for His sake.
A watchful prayerfulness and a prayerful watch is linked is with patient endurance, and patient endurance is linked with standing firm in Christ. Patient endurance is to do with standing firm in the evil day, Paul warns us to:- “Stand therefore … and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13 And the Lord Jesus Himself in this same context earnestly exhorts us to:- Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is” And He tells us:- “Take heed – See, I have told you all things beforehand.”
We can’t buckle on our armour as we hear the mighty floodgates burst open. We can't practice being covered by Him as the raging waters engulf our lives. I believe God is stripping away all areas of support upon which we have relied. I believe He is preparing a remnant that will stand fast in that evil day. I believe God wants a few watchmen that’ll truly recognise the approaching day. I believe that those heeding His warning will have prepared beforehand.
So how do we fulfil the continuous watch and unceasing prayer demanded here? For evil days will wax worse and worse and many will faint by the wayside. Well, the Lord Himself gives us the answers – we are not kept in the dark. He tells us – watch ye, then – in every season, praying that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are about to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:36
Philips, in his translation of this passage writes:- Watch out – don’t let My sudden coming catch you out, don’t let it find you living in careless ease, carousing and drinking. Don’t let Me find you occupied with the problems of this life either, like all the rest of the world are. Keep a constant watch and pray that it’s possible that you may arrive in My presence without having to experience these horrors.
Should we not take the warnings of Christ as seriously as His precious promises? Should we not regard these words of Scripture with equal care and caution? We are to guard our heart – in thought and word and deed and motive. We are to obey His warning – and prepare our hearts for the days are evil. We are to be ready and watch in every season and pray continuously, so that having done all we are able to stand firm – in Christ
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