Jesus, facing the greatest spiritual and physical battle of his life, taught us some great truths in the Garden of Gethsemane that should be our goal as we face the challenges of 2022. His words are a precious reminder that no matter how big or dark the challenges ahead of us might seem, we can take action to remain faithful to Him and His Word and refuse to be shaken or dismayed.
Matthew 26:36-46: Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
“Watch and pray” is the daily call for the Christian believer in 2022. This is our sacred duty and is fundamental to our Christian walk. We cannot sleep our life away physical or spiritually. Jesus Christ is still asking us every day “Can’t you watch with me for one hour?” Jesus Christ’s most intimate disciples that lived with him and he taught daily, fell asleep and failed to watch and pray with him during this crucial time. This is not an easy task, but it is a vital task if we want to grow in our Christian walk and have an impact on the world around us. We cannot shine as lights in this wicked world unless we watch and pray. We cannot be the salt of the earth unless we watch and pray. We cannot carry out our calling as an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ if we don’t watch and pray. It is the foundation of all spiritual warfare: Stay awake, be alert, watch and pray in complete trust to God never doubting his faithfulness to do what He promised to do.
Keep watching from egeiro = to arise, arouse) pictures a sleeping man rousing himself from slumber and so means to refrain from sleep and by default to be awake, alert, and watchful. A secular use of gregoreuo described a person carefully crossing a river while stepping on slippery stones. If they did not pay strict attention to their steps, they would end up in the water (compare “enter into temptation”). The disciples are to remain alert, watchful, ready to meet the danger and be quick to perceive and act. We are to be in a constant state of readiness and vigilant, alertly watchful, especially to avoid danger as this word suggests intense, unremitting, wary watchfulness; We are to be watchful and ready to respond to external influences, focused, alert for the winds of temptation or overt attacks of evil. We are to remained alert lest we be deceived by the devil the deceiver or sin which is deceitful.
Gregoreuo is in the present imperative, which is a charge to continually stay awake! Jesus is saying that it is imperative that we not become indolent and lazy and let down our guard or we will become easy prey for our inveterate, intractable enemies – the world, the flesh and the devil. The internal and external forces that come against us demand us to be alert and vigilant. Jesus is calling His disciples to be on the alert, maintaining a constant state of vigilance (vigilance suggests intense, unremitting, wary watchfulness; keenly alert to or heedful of trouble or danger as others are sleeping or unsuspicious).
Puritan John Owen explains that keeping watch means…
as much as to be on our guard, to take heed, to consider all ways and means whereby an enemy may approach to us… (this watchfulness requires) a universal carefulness and diligence, exercising itself in and by all ways and means prescribed by God, over our hearts and ways, the baits and methods of Satan, the occasions and advantages of sin in the world, that we be not entangled, is that which in this word is pressed on us.
Vincent comments on the significance of Jesus’ using the illustration of an awake, alert doorkeeper in this parable writing that
“In the temple, during the night, the captain of the temple made his rounds, and the guards had to rise at his approach and salute him in a particular manner. Any guard (doorkeeper) found asleep on duty was beaten, or his garments were set on fire.” (Greek Word Studies)
Mark it down that the Christian who is not alert to the enemy’s attack is in for trouble. Don’t misunderstand… we are not to look for a demon behind every bush. We are simply called to a continual state of spiritual alertness. We are setting ourselves up to succumb to a spiritual attack if we do not watch.
What should we watch for? The enemy’s strategy and movement; the flesh vs. the spirit in our walk, the influence of the kosmos, the basics of spiritual warfare, and the return of Christ. Watch that we are on guard and do not succumb. We don’t want to be fooled or bamboozled. We don’t want to be susceptible to a sneak attack.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu says: If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle
Praying from pros = toward, facing, before [idea of definiteness and directness in prayer with the consciousness on the part of the one praying that he is talking face to face with God] + euchomai = originally to speak out, utter aloud, express a wish, then to pray or to vow. In the NT is always used of prayer addressed to God (to Him as the object of faith and the One who will answer one’s prayer) and means to speak consciously (with or without vocalization) to Him, with a definite aim. Proseuchomai encompasses all the aspects of prayer — submission, confession, petition, supplication (may concern one’s own need), intercession (concerned with the needs of others), praise, and thanksgiving.
The commands to watch and pray precede the warning about temptation. In other words, don’t wait until the temptation comes to begin to watch and pray. Watch and pray before the temptation comes! Then you are ready to deal with the temptation and much more likely to come through the testing time victoriously.
Wiersbe comments on watch and pray noting it is like saying “Pray with your eyes open”… The familiar phrase “watch and pray” goes back to when Nehemiah was leading the people in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and restoring the gates. The enemy did not want the holy city to be rebuilt, so they used fear, deceit, and every kind of ruse to hinder the work. What was Nehemiah’s defense? “Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them [the enemy] we set a watch against them day and night” (Neh. 4:9NKJV). Jesus (Mt 26:41; Mk 13:33), Paul (Col 4:2), and Peter (1Pe 4:7) commanded God’s people to “watch and pray,” to be on guard and pray with intelligence and alertness. We are soldiers in a battle and we dare not go to sleep while on duty. (Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament)
Are we underestimating the importance and power of prayer in the Christian life? Is prayer more of a brief mental gymnastics exercise that we keep short and sweet or is it a vital link with our Heavenly Father, a conduit for his mighty power to be manifested to the world. Has our prayer life fizzled out, pushed to the back by other priorities in our busy life? Do we go through the motions when we pray, but have failed to understand its significance in the Christian walk?
Eric Ludy in Wrestling Prayer says:
God’s vision of prayer is more epic, more majestic, and more grand…Prayer is aggressive, growling, attacking, commanding, persevering, passionate, and feverishly unrelenting-its battlefield firing as if every utterance is chirping away at enemy strongholds and every petition is moving God’s indomitable purposes forward in the natural…realm. Prayer is nuclear in its power and revolutionary in its effect.
Does our prayer life reflect this magnificent power of God and shake the foundations of the earth or do we just produce a few sparks that soon fade away? Jesus says, “when you pray, believe…” and Paul prays in Ephesians that we might know “the immeasurable greatness of his (God’s) power for us who believe.” Prayer brings the immeasurable greatness of God’s power into our circumstances, into our fellowships, into our communities and into the world. Prayer cannot be reduced to a simple ritual where we go through the motions. It has to be more than a few words of grace before a meal or a few seconds of words before we fly out the door. Prayer is not spiritual-sounding chit-chatter but is birthed in the heart of God and wrapped in His power. Prayer changes everything.
E.M. Bounds in “Prayer Has No Substitutes” says:
Prayer is the greatest of all forces because it honors God and brings him into active aid. There can be no substitute, no rival for prayer, it stands alone as the great spiritual force, and this force must be imminent and acting…Many believe in the efficacy of prayer, but not many pray. Prayer is the easiest and hardest of all things; the simplest and the sublimest; the weakest and the most powerful; its results lie outside the range of human possibilities-they are only limited by the omnipotence of God.
Prayer has not diminished in power or importance. Prayer is still indispensable to Christian living, and we must elevate our vision of prayer and utilize this mighty key daily.
Eric Ludy in Wrestling Prayer says:
We have far more faith in the power of the enemy to defeat us than we do in the power of our God to deliver us, change us, empower us, and demonstrate His mighty nature in and through us…I refuse to have a form of godliness that denies the power thereof. I want the real thing, not some trumped-up show of emotion, not some Christian light show, not some sugarcoated sermon about God loving me still even though I am covered in filth and once again trounced under the feet of my enemies. I want the ancient power that coursed through the veins of Joshua, the ancient strength that stirred within the soul of Gideon, the ancient passion that overcame Josiah, and the ancient courage that gushed forth from the soul of Daniel. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to accept our modern rendition of Christian mediocrity as God’s best for His church. I read the Bible and my soul is stirred…Countless millions of so-called Christians are frittering their lives away in a powerless, defeated, miserable wilderness of half-doubts, sinful bondage, and paralyzing fears. They have God, but they only have the crumbs of His person. They have life, but it’s a life upon a hospital bed, intravenously being maintained by selfish consumption and fleshly addictions. I refuse this hollow form of life and godliness. I yearn for something more, something better, something real.”
Chrysostom: “The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt.”
The first great purpose of watching and praying is that we enter not into temptation.
Enter: entrance into any condition; to come into existence, to come and go freely. It denotes one mode of living and acting. It denotes to come to life and to take the road to enter.
James 1:13ff: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
We enter into temptation when we are lured and enticed by the desires of the flesh. Once we enter in a conception takes place and sin is birthed. There is no 9-month waiting period. Sin is birthed immediately.
We will all be tempted we just do not to enter into it to bring it to life so it becomes the way we act and live.
Enter into temptation. It becomes our sphere of action.
Temptation isn’t just going to come at you; you’re going to sink into it. It’s going to conquer you if you don’t watch and pray.
Jesus set forth the universal principal of life while we await His second coming. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh (sarx) is weak.”
There are 2 basic definitions of sarx, the first being the physical body (“flesh and blood”). The other main meaning of sarx is flesh in its moral, ethical sense. Flesh in this sense denotes fallen human nature apart from divine influence and even opposed to God and godliness. The expression of the “anti-God energized” flesh is through the instrument of the physical body (“flesh and blood”), which is itself morally neutral but is the instrument of either righteousness or unrighteousness (cf Romans 6:12). In sum, flesh refers to man’s unredeemed humanness, acting apart from God and the Spirit of Christ, and in total subjection to the power of sin.
You are about to face the most serious, difficult, threatening temptation and test of your life. And you’re going to sleep in preparation for that? They slept three times in spite of three warnings: “Stay awake, stay awake, stay awake.” And the result is in Matthew 26:56, “Then all the disciples left him and fled.” That’s what you get for sleeping. That’s how much power you have, if you just sleep through the war. Jesus fought the battle and he won. What were they doing while he was fighting the battle? They were sleeping.
Be a vigilant man. Don’t be a lazy man. Don’t be a slacker. Get up. Get a vision. Be intentional. Don’t sleep your life away. It is remarkable to me here that when he says, “The flesh is weak and the spirit is willing,” he’s not mainly talking about sex. He’s talking about weariness. You’re just too tired to read your Bible, too tired to lead the family in any kind of moral enterprise, too tired to go to church, too tired to talk to anybody. You just think to yourself, “I just want to go home and sit.” You will be a sitting duck for the Devil if you yield to that kind of lifestyle.
We often experience the weakness of our flesh in the strength of its sinful cravings and compulsions. But in Christ, God sets us free not only from the penalty of our sin (Colossians 2:14), but also from the power of our sin that remains very active in our flesh (Romans 8:2; Romans 7:23):
Jesus gives us his Spirit to empower us to walk in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4) so that we no longer are enslaved to cravings and compulsions of our flesh (Galatians 5:16).Sin-penalty paid, Spirit-power imparted, and the kingdom inherited (Matthew 25:34), all because our King is so gracious and lavishly generous. What a gospel!
When it comes to resisting the powerful demands of our weak flesh, the Bible describes it as dying (1 Peter 2:24). That’s because our deceived, corrupt flesh believes our life will be happier if we gratify it. Denying it can feel like dying to something life-giving. We must remember every day that “nothing good dwells in [us], that is, in [our] flesh” (Romans 7:18). When we, in following the Spirit’s direction, die to our flesh, we are dying only to what would destroy us, things like “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness” (Colossians 3:5).
When our weak flesh seems to wield great power through its cravings and compulsions, we must watch and pray for the Spirit, for greater is he that is in the new (regenerate) us than he that is in the old us. Today, when your unruly flesh makes maddening demands on you, remember: It will not kill you to die to your flesh. You are choosing life.
Habakkuk 2:1-3: I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Watch and listen to the Master. Run with the vision. and purpose He has given you, wait for its full manifestation. Let Him complete its work in you.
He won the battle of Gethsemane. They lost it. But clearly this story is in the Bible so that we can watch all of that and be ready for the battle of Gethsemane. That is, be ready to move with Jesus into his saving work. To join him in making the greatest difference in the world. And the point of Gethsemane for our lives is: “Come with me into this battle. I have done, and will do, the decisive work of turning the human heart to myself. But I intend to win this battle with you at my side, speaking my word. I didn’t invite Peter, James, and John into my warfare for nothing. I didn’t warn them about the weakness of their flesh and call them to vigilance and prayer for nothing. I did it for you. I intend for you to fight and suffer and triumph with me. Do you want to make a difference in this world? He has taught you in Gethsemane how to fight. He says, “Rise, let us be going.”
Look at the secret of Charles Simeon, who endured great hardships in his powerful 54-year pastorate in Cambridge (1782–1836). His friend, T. Housman, stayed with him for a few months and tells us something of this man’s devotion: Never did I see such consistency, and reality of devotion, such warmth of piety, such zeal and love. . .Invariably he arose every morning, though it was the winter season, at four o’clock; and after lighting his fire, he devoted the first four hours of the day to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. . . Here was the secret of his great grace and spiritual strength. Deriving instruction from such a source, and seeking it with such diligence, he was comforted in all his trials, and prepared for every duty.
It is true for individuals. And it is true for churches. No prayer, no power. And we need spiritual power. Consider the first quote (above) from Mark 9. There are spiritual forces that Jesus says are very hard to overcome. His disciples asked, “Why could we not cast it out?” Jesus answered, “Insufficient prayer!” What did he mean? Probably not that they hadn’t prayed over the demonized boy, but that they had not lived in prayer. They had been caught in a prayer-less period of life. Notice: Jesus cast out the demon without praying: “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” But Jesus had prayed. He lived in prayer. He was ready when evil came. But the disciples had become weak and negligent in their praying. And they were powerless in the face of strong evil forces. “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” In other words, without persistent prayer we have no offense. As a church we are meant to invade and plunder the strongholds of Satan. But no prayer, no power. The same is true of defense: Continue steadfastly in prayer. There is so much power to be had in persevering prayer. Don’t forget the “impudent friend” of Luke 11:8 and don’t forget the parable Jesus told to the effect that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1–8). Perseverance is the great test of genuineness in the Christian life. O, let us be a praying church, and let 2022 be saturated with prayers to the Lord of the harvest. Won’t it be great to say in the end, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)? Be watchful in your prayers. This means, be alert! Be mentally awake! We must be on the watch as we pray — on the watch against a wandering mind, against vain repetitions, against trite and meaningless expressions, against limited, selfish desires.
I Corinthians 16:13: Be on the alert, Stand firm in the faith, Act like men, Be strong. Paul like a general keenly aware of the real spiritual war surrounding every saint, uses four Greek military terms to issue a staccato command (all in the imperative mood) to the church at Corinth (and the churches of every age) and all in the present tense (continuously) calling for each to be the habitual practice for the rest of our lives! (Note: “be on the alert” = gregoreuo) All saints are to be on guard at all times. They are not to give up an inch of vital territory. They are to behave with true courage.
I Peter 5:8: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
MacArthur: We must have an attitude of vigilant defense. The reason we to watch and pray, trust God and humble ourselves under His almighty hand, is because our adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Peter says be on the alert, be watchful. It’s an aorist imperative, stay awake, be ready, be alert, watch out. The outside forces that come against us demand us to be alert, vigilance. The enemy, by the way, is very subtle. According to 2 Corinthians chapter 11 he disguises himself as an angel of light and his ministers as angels of light. He very rarely shows himself for who he is. He almost always masks himself as a religious personality, almost always endeavoring somehow in some way to be able to approach you subtly so that you can’t recognize the reality of who he is. But let’s find out about him. Let’s find out why it’s so very, very important to be alert. Your adversary, the devil: That introduces us to the enemy in spiritual warfare; a very personal designation, by the way, your adversary the devil. He’s not only the adversary of God, he’s not only the adversary of holy angels, but he is your adversary as well. “Adversary,” by the way, is a legal Greek word that means the legal opponent in a lawsuit in a technical sense. So you have an enemy and you better be alert. Even though you can trust God and entrust yourself to God, you need to be alert to the enemy in general. This enemy here is called the devil, diabolos, slanderer. The term diabolos or slanderer means a malicious enemy who slanders. It can even go beyond that and mean a malicious enemy who attacks. He is also called destroyer and he is called Abaddon and Apollyon and both of those terms mean destroyer. He is the slanderer. He is the accuser. He is the destroyer. And he is prowling about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. He’s always active and he’s always looking for an opportunity to overwhelm us. His aim is to sow discord, to break fellowship, to accuse God to men, to accuse men to God, to accuse men to each other, to undermine confidence, to silence confession, to get us to stop serving God. He’s always after us. He is called in John’s gospel three times the prince of this world. He commands the human system. So as he is moving around seeking whom he may devour, it is not that you have to come into contact with him individually to fall prey because he orchestrates a whole realm of demon beings and he orchestrates and controls the whole world’s system. And so from his seat as prince of the world he orchestrates an environment which in and of itself can devour us. He is also called the prince of the power of the air by Paul in Ephesians chapter 2. The power of the air means the supernatural demonic power that exists in the universe. He commands that so he commands the human system, the cosmos, the world and he commands the air, the supernatural sphere in which demons move. And so he individually and he through his demons and through his system is prowling about like a roaring lion wanting to devour someone. That’s Satan’s ploy, to move through the world to find somebody he can consume. The prowling, roaring lion is a symbol of viciousness in Scripture. I would just commend to you Psalm 22 verse 13, that Messianic Psalm talking about how the “bulls of Bashan have encircled me,” referring to Christ being encircled by those who hated Him at His cross. “They opened wide their mouth at Me like a ravening and a roaring lion.” That’s a picture of viciousness, of maliciousness. That same expression is used elsewhere in the Psalms with the same intent of one who would be vicious. Psalm 104 verse 21, “The young lions roar after their prey.” So, Satan is going after his prey. He’s going out to consume. He’s going out to chew someone up. That’s his goal. Satan is moving around wanting to take someone and literally rip that person to shreds, looking for someone to devour. Satan’s goal is to devastate. And you must understand that the objective of his devastation, listen very carefully, is not unbelievers for obvious reasons, right? He already possesses them. He wanted somebody like Job who named the name of God. And I believe that he goes after people who name the name of God, wanting to destroy, tear up, devastate. Even though obviously he cannot take away their salvation, he can destroy their life, he can destroy their testimony, he can devastate them.
You better be on the alert because you have a personal adversary, an enemy, the slanderer, diabolos, Abaddon, Apollyon, the destroyer who is moving all over the earth with one goal in mind, finding people who name the name of Christ and wanting to tear them to shreds and destroy them. You better be alert. The strategy of Satan is to oppose and attack the name of Christ, destroy His name, destroy His character, destroy anything that names His name so that you discredit Him and cause people to turn their back on Him.
Now what is the program of warfare? How does it work? Let me take you a little deeper into that. First of all, how does Satan deal with non-Christians? Simply stated in Revelation chapter 12 verse 9, he deceives them. He comes down and deceives the whole world. He blinds their minds, 2 Corinthians 4:3 and 4, so the light of the glorious gospel doesn’t shine unto them. He deceives them through ignorance, unbelief, false religion, love of sin, fleshly gratification. He deceives them by developing a cosmos and a system that looks alluring, inviting, pleasurable, fulfilling. And he comes at them through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.
What is the lust of the eyes? I see it, I want it. What is the lust of the flesh? I feel it, I want it. And the pride of life. And he moves in developing a deceptive system. When unbelievers sin, it isn’t that Satan is there making them sin, it is that Satan has concocted the system that is infested with his demons who keep it moving down its hellish, deceptive path and it makes victims out of the human race.
1. Set aside a time and a place each day, and don’t leave it to chance.
The devil defeats most praying before it happens because we didn’t make a plan. If you don’t plan — believe me — you won’t pray. I have been at this a long time, and the devil hates me and my prayer life. You wouldn’t believe how many good things keep me from praying — not sin. Sin does not keep me from praying; righteousness keeps me from praying: answering holy emails or just checking out one more piece of relevant news to pray about at whatever news service you click on. It’s not evil that keeps us from praying; it’s good things. And the devil is shrewd to the bottom. So pick a place, and pick a time, and show up.
2. Combine your praying with reading the Bible.
Take what you read in the Bible and turn it into prayer, because your brain, if it’s a typical human brain, will have a very hard time holding a train of thought while you pray with no help from the Bible. Try it for just ten minutes without your brain flipping out on the dust you see on the venetian blinds. Just try it. Satan is wicked in his goodness. He might whisper, “It needs to be dusted. It wouldn’t be sin to get up and dust it, would it?” Use the Bible and turn the Bible into prayer. Read, pray; read, pray; read, pray; read, pray as long as you want to or as long as you can.
3. Pray from the inside out or visa versa.
You can either pray from the outside in or the inside out. Start your prayers:
- Have mercy upon me. Convict me. Kill my fleshly lusts. Change me. Guard me. Humble me. Destroy those aspects of me. And then you move out from me to my family. Then I move out to you, the church. And then I move out from there to the wider movement of Christ around the world — our missionaries and the whole global cause of Christ. And then I move out from there to the political-historical arena of the world. Or you could go the other direction and move from the outside in. If you wonder why I don’t put God in the middle, it’s because he’s in every circle. And the main point of every circle is “hallowed be thy name.”
Structure Isn’t Legalism
The hard truth is we Christians don’t do very well. We don’t pray very much. We pray at meals maybe, unless we are still stuck at the adolescent stage that thinks good habits are legalism. We may whisper prayers before a tough meeting that we’re walking into. We may throw God a kiss as we crawl into bed. But we don’t set aside significant, regular, daily, disciplined time to pray in those ways much. And we don’t think it’s worth it to meet with others to pray, by and large. And we wonder, “Why is my faith weak? Why is my hope feeble? Why is my passion for Christ small?” And meanwhile, across these rooms, the devil is whispering in your ear, “The pastor is getting legalistic now. He’s moving into the legalistic phase of the sermon. He’s starting to use guilt now. He’s getting the law out now.” That’s what he’s saying. To which I say, to hell with the devil and all of his destructive lies. Is intentional, regular, disciplined, earnest, Christ-dependent, God-glorifying, joyful prayer a duty — a discipline? It’s a duty the way it’s a duty for a scuba diver to put on his air tank before he goes underwater. It’s a duty the way pilots should listen to air traffic controllers. It’s a duty the way soldiers in combat should clean their rifles and load their guns. It’s a duty the way hungry people eat food. It’s a duty the way thirsty people drink water. It’s a duty the way a deaf man puts on his hearing aid. It’s a duty the way a diabetic takes his insulin. I hate the devil. I hate the way he is killing some of you by persuading you it’s legalistic to do regular, set-aside, disciplined praying. I hate the devil and the way he’s killing you, telling you that it is legalistic to be as regular in your prayers as you are in eating your food, in sleeping, in internet use. Is it legalistic to eat three times a day? You sleep every night for goodness’ sake. Mix it up. The devil is laughing up his sleeve at how easy he can take out Christians. You should just look at him and say, “I’m older than that. I’m not in fifth grade anymore. I’ve grown up a little bit. Get out of my life. I’ve got work to do, because I am a sinner in desperate need of talking to my King every day. If I don’t set a time and a place, I’m a goner.” If we don’t eat, we starve. If we don’t drink, we die of thirst. If we don’t exercise a muscle, it atrophies. If we don’t breathe, we suffocate. And just as there are physical means of life, there are spiritual means of grace. It’s so simple. So many of you are trying to live your life spiritually without breathing, eating, drinking, exercising, and you wonder, “What’s wrong? It’s your fault, God.” It’s not his fault.
Watchfulness and prayer are inseparable. The one discerns dangers, the other arms against them. Watchfulness keeps us prayerful, and prayerfulness keeps us watchful. To watch without praying is presumption, to pray without watching is hypocrisy. The eye that sees clearly the facts of life will turn upwards from its scanning of the snares and traps and will not look in vain. These two are the indispensable conditions of victorious encountering of temptation.
Each of us must ask: What is my Achilles heel? We need to know our on the Lord for His help, we will be protected from “the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul: Take every virtue, every grace and fortify the whole-Wesley.
Never forget to watch for his return:
Mark 13:31-37: Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.34 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. 35 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:36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
We watch and pray with Him and are never taken by surprise with His return. We are ready, we are alert, we are engaged in wrestling prayer, we stand against the onslaughts of our enemy, knowing the final victory is coming. We are deceived by our enemy but stand in the evil day until the final trump sounds.