"Watch and pray..." - Cautioned Jesus his disciples once. But what does it mean to
watch? Among several things, it means being awake, attentive, alert, or acting in a careful
manner in order to guard against a problem. And what does it mean to pray? Several
things also. But mostly to turn to God. Which can be done in the form of praise,
thanksgiving, asking, pleading, crying out, agonizing, petitioning, or interceding. But
when and why did Jesus tell his own to "watch and pray?" The answer to this question
can be found in Matthew 26:36-50 (KJV), which says:
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith
the disciples, Sit here, while I go and pray yonder. And He took with him
Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even
unto death; tarry here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, 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. And he cometh
unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep; and he saith unto Peter, What,
could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not
into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
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. And he
came and found them asleep again; for their eyes were heavy. And he left
them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take
you rest; behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the
hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; behold, he is at hand that doeth betray
And while he yet spoke, lo, Judas... came, and with him a great multitude
with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now
he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that
same is he; hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said,
master; and kissed him.
And Jesus said unto him, Friend, why art thou come?
Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
Jesus Christ, God's Son, who became a human being - was very sad and was even
agonizing before his crucifixion. Therefore, all he desired was to be alone with his Father
in prayer, and have his disciples pray for him close by also. Sad to say, but his disciples
couldn't support him, because they fell asleep. Based on these facts let us examine:
Who needs to watch and pray?
When? Why? And how?
-Who needs to watch and pray? In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus recommended this
to his disciples. For, he knew that - in spite of their willingness to support him - they
fell asleep. And the same holds true for us - his present day disciples - also. For, we too
need to maintain a close fellowship with the Lord, but when we try to pray for an hour, or
so; we often fall asleep too; or, find our thoughts drift away to other things; or, get so
involved in our daily chores that - at the end of the day - we realize that we didn't even
find time to pray. Therefore it is very important, that every child of God find the best
time of the day, when he/she is wide awake, for daily, regular prayer fellowship with
God. As this is one of our main duties.
When should we pray?
As said before: daily, and also any time and anywhere, when we want to praise God; or
someone around us needs immediate help; or we ourselves are facing sudden danger, etc.
Like Jesus did, when he was surrounded by the sick. Then - according to
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV), we should "pray without ceasing" too. But this can only
be done by people, who lead a God centered life; are constantly close to him; and therefore
can talk to him any moment of any day.
Why do we need to watch and pray?
According to Jesus: so that we may avoid Satan's temptations; or triumph over them.
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." - He said. For, according to 1 Peter
5:8 (KJV) "...your adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom
he may devour..." Which requires constant watchfulness a prayer.
How should we pray?
On our knees, standing, sitting, laying down, with folded hands, raised hands, or
otherwise? Anyone who is healthy enough to stay on her knees for a while, may pray in a
kneeling position, in her private prayer chamber. However, our position doesn’t only
depend on our health, but also on the situation. For example, if I'm praising God, while
driving; I better stay seated in my car. Or if you secretly pray for your co-worker in your
office; you better stay in the position you were, before you began to pray. Etc. In other
words, the position of our body or hands should not cause us problems, because God
looks at our heart.
Moreover, the type of prayer we should employ, is not something we can make rules for
either; because that should depend on what we are praying for, how deeply we are
involved, and what the situation is. There are times, when we just want to praise God. At
other times we may be extremely disturbed over a situation and therefore may intercede
in tears, earnestly plead, cry out, or even agonize in prayer. Like Jesus did in the
Garden of Gethsemane. But then, there may be times, when we just want to ask God for
But, should we say memorized prayers, or pray with our own words? - Someone may
also ask. Personally, I enjoy praying the Lord's Prayer or one of the Psalms, on and off; as
I honestly desire to see all their requests be fulfilled as soon as possible. But I don't make
a ceremony out of this practice. Nor, do I repeat any of them several times in a row. For,
that doesn't impress God. In other words - although these memorized prayers are very
valuable to me - yet, during my regular prayer time, I pray with my own words, and talk to
God as to my Dear Father. Sharing with him all my problems, my victories, my joys, and
For, that's what the people in Christ's day did also. Like the mother, who
cried: "Have mercy on me, O Lord,... my daughter is grievously vexed with a demon."
(Matthew 15:22, KJV) Or the centurion who said: "...speak the word only, and my servant
shall be healed." (Matthew 8:8 KJV) Or the blind who yelled: "Son of David! Have mercy
How long should our prayers be, and what kind of aids may we employ?
How long we pray should depend on how many things we want to praise and thank God
for, how many person's spiritual or physical needs, or how many things God laid on our
heart. In the beginning
15 minutes may be enough. But the more seriously we take the responsibility of prayer,
the more time we will need; whether that will be half and hour, one hour, or more. Then,
talking about aids, we may refer to some prayer books, which maybe helpful for a
beginning prayer warrior; if he agrees with the requests and thanksgivings of the authors.
However, soon he will be so filled with countless desires, problems, and praises that he
will need to pour out his heart with his own words, without the aid of a book altogether.
But there are people who use a home made filing system - as an aid - to remind
themselves of all the issues or people he/she wants to pray for daily. While others just
create and use a list. And even other pray from memory.
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation..." - Said Jesus to his disciples,
and today, to us, as well. When? Daily, possibly at the same time and place; but also
anywhere and any time, when there is a need for it. In other words "without ceasing."
Why? In order to avoid, or triumph over all kinds of temptations. How? By using the
best bodily position our health or the situation permits; while praising God, or asking,
pleading, interceding, or crying out for things; mostly with our own words; and as long as
it takes to share everything God laid on our heart; and using our own memory, or notes or
files. Would to God, that all of us would lead such an earnest prayer life!