For Christians, it is common knowledge to pray. But what does it actually mean to watch and pray?
You see, often scripture includes the command to watch alongside the command to pray.
In the past, I would lump the two together, considering both watching and praying as simply a command to pray. But there is definite difference between the two.
So let’s examine the distinction between Christ’s commands to watch and pray.
There are at least two primary reasons Christ included the command to watch as well as pray.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Watching for the Rapture
First, it seems believers are suppose to watch, or be careful in following the Lord, until he returns for the “catching away” (rapture) of his saints.
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
So believers are to watch over the things of Lord, and to be careful in their daily walk prior to his return. This is one form of watching that we have been warned of by Christ.
Watching Out for Evil
Second, it seems we are to watch or watch out for evil.
And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.
And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.
And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
In verse 38 Christ said to “watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”
So just before Judas comes in with a band of people ready to take the Lord prisoner, Christ wakes up his disciples.
And mature believers know how well that went for the disciples. Peter takes the liberty of chopping off the servant of the high priest’s ear.
Peter knew better than to take vengeance.
To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence;
Not only that, but then all of the disciples ran off and abandoned the Lord.
It’s pretty hard to follow the Lord when you’re running in the opposite direction.
The point is, the disciples were not watching, and therefore fell into sin.
Now I just want to ask you this…if you were one of the disciples present with Christ that day, and you had stayed awake, watched, and prayed during that time, do you think you would have been more prepared to face the enemy, or less?
Is it reasonable that the disciples might have reacted differently, had they been watching and praying?
I think so. Now, obviously, the scriptures had to be fulfilled, and the disciples had to flee at that time. Which is probably why the disciples were asleep right before Jesus was arrested, so that they would be disoriented, and not able to respond correctly.
So I think the example is there for believers to always be mindful, or watching for the Lord’s return; as well as being aware of, and watching for the evil and temptations that come their way while maintaining a life of prayer. Prayer is critically important, but if believers are not watching, their prayers will be far less effective.