What did Jesus mean when He said “Watch and Pray?”
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Just what are we watching for?
I remember going to a store one day and remaining in the car while my friends went in to do some shopping. In the car next to me was this little dog sitting in the driver’s seat staring intently at the door of the store. This little dog would not take his eyes off that door. Every time the automatic doors would slide open the little dog’s ears would perk up. He would stand with his front paws on the steering wheel panting, wide eyed and tail wagging expectantly. Time and time again people would come out of the door that was not his master and the dog would return to his intense watchful position, not disappointed, but with an obvious understanding that one of these times it will be his master, he had only to wait patiently.
As I watched this dog the Lord showed me through this simple illustration that this is what He is talking about when He said “watch.” Eventually the little dog’s master did exit the door. His excitement and enthusiasm came unhinged! I could hear his happy little whines and yelps as he watched his master walk strait to the car. His love and appreciation for his owner was unquestionable.
They could not have been apart for more than 30 minutes, yet the dog greeted his owner like he had been missing him for a month. To this dog, his master was the most precious person on the planet, and could not bear to be apart from him for any length of time. It was so obvious this dog loved his master with everything that was in him.
What would it be like if we saw our Heavenly Father this way? What difference would it make in our lives? How would it affect our relationship with Him? What would it do to our perception of life? How would it affect our joy? Our peace? Our faith?
After seeing this little dog I am convinced that we often take the Lord for granted. That we don’t really relate to Him like He is the creator of the universe, the master of ALL. Our hearts are divided, our minds are distracted and we allow other things matter more than what should matter most.
The Bible says to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all our needs will be met. (Matt 6:33) Yet we continue to approach God with our laundry list of needs and wants like He wasn’t serious when He said that.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is about living a life with a very narrow, focused perspective. To maintain that perspective we must be imitators of Jesus. Jesus said this:
John 5:19-20 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
Jesus ONLY did what He saw. Jesus was able to do what He did because He constantly practiced watching the Father. He truly did “seek first the Kingdom of God.” Could this be a big reason that we don’t see the level of supernatural life that we read about in the book of Acts?
The discipline of watching moves us from being a child/servant to a mature son. It is only the mature sons that can receive an inheritance. (Gal 4:1-2)
The discipline of watching creates an awareness of God that puts all of life in proper perspective. The more we keep our attention and focus on Him, the clearer we become on who He really is and who we really are to Him.
The discipline of watching produces an integrity of heart that makes resisting temptation easy.
The discipline of watching keeps you prepared to face anything that life would dish out to you.
The discipline of watching may be the most important part of prayer. When we practice watching, we know what to pray for and how to pray. We know what to do and how to do it. We position ourselves to be a trusted vessel that the Father can use to flow through.
Have you looked back on your life and realized that there were times that you felt closer to God, the anointing was stronger, God seemed to be moving more in your life and you were noticeably more focused on Him? I have experienced this myself and questioned God about it. His answer was simple, yet profound. He said: “At those times you were more aware of Me, more conscious of Me.”
I began to see the importance of maintaining a high level of “God Awareness.” Furthermore, I realized that the responsibility of maintaining that awareness fell to me. With that realization I began to think about what produces and awareness of God and what pulls me out of that awareness.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
The principle is this: “WE BECOME WHAT WE BEHOLD.”
We draw power, influence and identity from the things we are most conscious of. One of the sneakiest tricks of the Devil is to make us, and keep us Sin Conscious. The price for sin has been paid and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from a consciousness of sin. It doesn’t cleanse us from our ability to sin. This is where the Devil tries to get a foothold in our mind. He brings thoughts and memories of past mistakes and uses that to draw our attention to our weakness instead of God’s goodness. If we don’t control this thought process we end up in guilt, condemnation and shame and draw our identity from our ability to sin and not Christ. Our awareness of our weakness becomes greater than our awareness of God. This is why it is so important to continually cultivate our revelation of righteousness.
Righteousness is the foundation of our identity in Christ. As our identity in Christ becomes grounded, our awareness of God increases. If we can keep this truth before our eyes we rob the enemy of many of his tricks to deceive. If he can keep us from realizing who we are, he can keep us from functioning in the power of the Spirit. If he can keep our attention on ourselves, he can keep our attention off of God.
Matthew 6:22 The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, (single, clear) your whole body will be full of light.
Again we see that what we look at has a profound effect on our lives. We must be narrowly focused on what we allow ourselves to behold. Our perspective determines the amount of light we have, how bright we shine, and how full of light we really are.
Presence vs. Principle
Another trick the enemy uses is to get us to substitute knowing God, for knowing about God.
1 Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
The word “knowledge” in the above verse indicates an intimate knowledge that unites you with the object or person it is talking about. It indicates a personal experience with instead of merely knowing about. There is a HUGE difference.
If you read a biography on the life of any given person, you can acquire a great deal of knowledge about that person, but unless you actually spend time with the person you can’t honestly say that you know them.
As a people, Christians have been duped into believing that knowledge of God’s word is the equivalent of knowing Him personally. We understand the principles and grasp the concepts of faith but we don’t really know God because we don’t spend time with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, quietly meditating on who He is so that He can expand our hearts and minds to receive the awesome revelation of His eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, being. We can’t begin to wrap our head around who He is by only reading His word. We must also spend time in the light of His presence. Both are needed to mature, and both are needed to effectively live and walk by faith.
We learn the principles of God’s amazing Word and then we try to live by these principles in our own strength. If we will spend as much time with God as we do learning about God our awareness of His abiding presence will produce an effortless walk of faith that keeps us living and abiding in holiness. Instant obedience becomes a natural thing. Resisting temptation to sin becomes effortless.
Think about it, if Jesus Himself was physically with you every minute of every day, walking with you, standing right beside you, would you have a problem resisting sin? Would have a problem obeying His word? You would be so acutely aware of your every action and word that you would only do and say those things that pleased Him. This is how Jesus lived His life. He set the example for us to follow.
John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
John 8:28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.
John 12:49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.
The more time we spend alone with our Heavenly Father, the more awareness of His presence we will walk in throughout our day.
Awareness of God births the character of God, the nature of God, and the faith of God within us. Awareness of His abiding presence makes us more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His leading. Awareness of God helps us to see others how God sees them and therefore opens the door for us to minister Christ to them more effectively.
One of the hardest things we will ever do in our prayer life is …NOTHING! Ok, nothing isn’t quite the word we are looking for. Silent Waiting is a better way to say it.
Waiting in silence, expecting God to reveal Himself to us, is a powerful and fruitful endeavor. Quietly meditating on who He is and what He has spoken to us in His word or by His Spirit is an amazing exercise of our faith and is very pleasing to our Father.
Psalm 23:2-3 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
The Good Shepherd, by the Holy Spirit, is always trying to lead us to a place of peace and stillness. It is a place of refreshing and restoration. It is a place to find direction and discern the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Waiting on God renews our strength.
The practice of silent meditation upon God and His word fills up our spiritual gas tanks and empowers us to run well.
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
It is in the Stillness that God is known. Reading God’s word and listening to preaching and teaching helps us to know about God, but spending time in His presence is what we need to actually know Him intimately. God is raising up a people in this generation that will live life from the outflow of His presence, rather than merely living by the principles in His word.
“In our stillness before Him, He prepares us to host His presence.”
Psalm 62:1 Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. Psalm 62:5-6 My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.
“Silently waiting on God anchors our soul.”
When life throws us a curve ball, when things get tough and it seems like we are pressed on every side with problems, difficulties and even attacks of the enemy. Silently waiting on God and thinking about His goodness, His greatness, His faithfulness and His amazing love for us gives us strength to stand in faith and trust in His tender mercies and his power to deliver us out of all our troubles.
Isaiah 30:15 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not,
Quietness and stillness should be practiced individually and corporately to keep us from trusting in the world and its systems. The Lord is speaking through Isaiah a strong word of correction to His people for trusting in Egypt for their strength and salvation instead of Him. Unfortunately, they would not have it.
In this age of distractions and constant movement it is vitally important that we practice stillness in God’s presence.
“Peace is the frequency of God. We must tune in to this channel of stillness to hear the still small voice of the Spirit.”
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” – Corrie ten Boom
“If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.” C. H. Spurgeon
Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” – Martin Luther
“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.” – Charles Spurgeon
“Prayer is simply talking to God like a friend and should be the easiest thing we do each day.” – Joyce Meyer
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV)
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” – Mother Teresa
“To get the nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees.” – Billy Graham
“Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.” – E.M. Bounds
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Andrew Murray
“The fewer the word the better the prayer.” – Martin Luther
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. – Matthew 6:7 (NKJV)
It has always been God’s plan to operate through man when dealing with the affairs of the earth. The earth is owned by God, and always has been. But, He gave man control over the earth for a season, to govern and take dominion. God gave man authority over the earth. Man gave away this authority to the devil, bringing sin and death to creation, separating us from God, and cutting us off from our birthright as sons of God.
Jesus Christ has abolished the things that separate us from God, restored our birthright, our authority on the earth, and our ability to take dominion over the power of darkness and destroy the works of the devil. We have a responsibility to exercise and execute this restored authority so that God’s plans and purposes for the earth can be fulfilled.
1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Prayer is simply man exercising his legal authority on earth to invite God’s influence on the planet. Because God will not violate man’s will or His own word, God waits for man to pray so that he can act on our behalf. Prayer is not optional. It is essential for the fulfillment of God’s purpose on the earth. Prayer gives God the right to intervene in man’s affairs.
In the Garden, Adam walked with God in the cool of the day. This is our model for prayer, walking with God. Getting to know Him, discussing man’s mission, his stewardship, his fruitfulness, his potential. Man gets in trouble when he’s not there to meet with God and pray. Adam’s sin, and his new felt shame, guilt, and condemnation made him run and hide from God. This is the response of a sin conscious mind. Though Jesus has restored us all, like Adam, many are still silent and hiding.
The greatest aspect of prayer is our ability to be with Him. He is our Father and we must know Him as such. Let nothing keep us from approaching Him in prayer. If we want God to act on our behalf we must pray.
Very few Christians feel they have a successful prayer life. One of the big reasons believers struggle with prayer is because of all the wrong teaching they’ve received about it. Another reason is that they simply do not pray.
I like the guitar, always have, but I don’t play that well because I don’t practice on a regular basis. I may practice an hour a day for two weeks and then not pick it up again for a month. I am not committed to getting better so I remain at the same level of proficiency, which is NOVICE. The same is true for most Christian’s concerning their prayer life, they don’t practice prayer principles regularly so they get little results.
Getting results in prayer can be easy if you understand some basic faith principles. When you begin to see prayers answered and realize that YOU can be effective and dynamic in prayer, it will become a lifestyle for you, not just a last resort when trouble knocks at your door.
There are different types of prayer, the prayer of faith, the prayer of consecration, the prayer of repentance, the prayer of intercession, etc. Different rules or principles apply to different kinds of prayer and to be effective you must pray according to the guidelines laid out in the bible. The one thing I want to focus on in this teaching is the prayer of faith and the link between your praying and your saying. This will change your life and bring results almost immediately.
Mark 11:22-24 ~ 22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
This is in reference to the time that Jesus cursed the fig tree and later on the disciples noticed it and pointed it out to the Lord. Jesus took this opportunity to teach them one of the most powerful lessons about prayer and the power of words. First let’s establish something. Look at verse 23 and ask yourself, “is this prayer?”
If you answered “no,” you are correct. You see Jesus was making a point that words are powerful just like the prayer of faith is powerful. Most folks don’t get that, and they pray wonderful scripture based prayers and then undo them by speaking words of doubt and unbelief. Your praying must match you saying. We are talking about the prayer of faith mixed with the “spirit of faith.” This is the combination that brings victory every time. So let’s look at what the bible says about the spirit of faith.
2 Corinthians 4:13 ~ And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,
Your mouth is the biggest indicator of where your faith is. If you have a heart full of faith, your words will reflect that. If your heart is full of doubt and unbelief, you will speak words of doubt and unbelief.
Luke 6:45 ~A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Now let’s look at the most important parable in the bible. Jesus said in Mark 4:13 …“Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” This is what is referred to as “The parable of the sower”. Follow the link to Mark 4 and read the whole chapter if you like but focus on this verse,
Mark 4:14 ~ The sower sows the word.
In this parable we see clearly that the soil is the heart or human spirit and that the seed of the word will get different results depending on the condition of the soil. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God works like this. That means that all things pertaining to the Kingdom of God works on this principle on some level. Since we are talking about the prayer of faith, let’s focus on how this principle applies.
People will often say that they are “standing in faith” for healing or some other need to be met, and yet when you ask them what scriptures they are standing on they can’t give you a definitive answer. Understand this; faith begins where the will of God is known. If you don’t know what the will of God is concerning your situation, you don’t have any basis for believing.
The first step in praying the prayer of faith is to find out what God’s will is for that particular situation. His Word is His will. If you are praying, “God heal me if it be your will”, you are NOT in faith because you don’t know His will.
The New Testament is clear that healing is a part of our redemption. Jesus paid the price for your healing over 2000 years ago. If you are not clear on that, if you are not fully persuaded that healing belongs to you as a child of God, then you are not capable praying in faith. Find out what God says about healing and meditate on His Words. Here are three verses of scripture that I use, speak and meditate on when I am standing in faith for healing.
1 Peter 2:24 ~ who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
Matthew 8:17 ~ that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”
Isaiah 53:5 ~But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
These three scriptures alone should settle any doubt about God’s will for you to be healed. There are plenty of other passages about healing and other promises in God’s Word. Find scriptures that address your situation, pay close attention to scriptures that really jump out at you because the Holy Spirit will quicken certain scriptures to you and bring light to your spirit man by those words. Knowing God’s will is the foundation that Faith must stand on.
Once you are clear on God’s will, make releasing your faith an event. Mark this moment in your heart, write it down in a prayer journal, Post it on a note where you can see it regular, if possible, have your spouse, your pastor, a faith buddy or someone else to agree with you. Set this day as a memorial in your life that THIS is where I take a stand and claim what belongs to me. Make a big deal out of it and let God, the Devil, and everybody else know that no matter what I see or how I feel, that this shall come to pass in my life!
There is built-in accountability in making a huge deal out of releasing your faith. You mark your soul with a time and place of no turning back, you see it as a place of change and it helps you stand firm when the going gets tough.
Galatians 6:9 ~And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
You can do the first two steps perfectly and have absolutely NO results if you don’t bridle your tongue. Make it a point to ONLY speak words of faith about what you prayed for. Guard yourself from speaking words of doubt and unbelief. And don’t hang around folks that do nothing but talk about the problem. Always declare the answer. Call those things that do not exist as though they did! God does this, Abraham did it, and you need to learn to do it too if you are going to be strong in faith.
Romans 4:17 ~ (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
Joel 3:10 ~Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’
Your words either make you or break you where faith is concerned; they are the steering wheel that points you to the path of victory. Once you have released your faith, continue to speak words of faith. Feed your faith with God’s Word by saying what He says about you. The bible says that faith comes by hearing. What better way to hear it than speaking it with your own mouth.
Romans 10:17 ~So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
If all you hear are doubt, unbelief, fear, and negative reports, these are what you will have faith in. Feed your faith with God’s Word. Don’t let it depart from your eyes or your mouth and your faith victories will abound.
Joshua 1:8 ~This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
These are not all of the principles involved in prayer or faith, but it is a good place to start. First and foremost, be a person committed to the Word of God. Realize that the bible is God speaking to YOU. God’s Word is God’s will, and faith begins where the will of God is known.
For years I prayed that God would help me see things, people and situations the way He sees them. That sounds like a pretty good prayer don’t you think? I did too, until recently the Lord told me NOT to pray that way any more. He said: “Instead, pray that you would see things the way I want you to see them.”
At first I thought, “Isn’t that the same thing?” But He showed me that it wasn’t. I saw that man is not capable of seeing the way God sees, the responsibility is far too great. To see the true heart of every person and all of the details about every situation, to see the cause and effect of everyone’s actions, not mention the future outcome, would be overwhelming and confusing.
Talk about information overload! I was limiting God by praying for something that He was not able to give me. Thank God for His mercy! Praying beyond God’s ability to answer me was a new thought process all together. I had to reevaluate how I was praying about everything.
I now understand that we only need to see and know very little if we are living by faith. We are to walk in love believing the best of every person. If we saw what was in the hearts and minds of every person it would be hard to believe the best of them. We only need to know the next step, the rest we walk out by faith, trusting that God knows best and that He only wants the best for us.
The Word of God gives us plenty of instructions on how we should see things, and if Gods Word abides in us it filters everything we see with spiritual insight. I believe now that asking God to help me see things the way He would have me see them is another way of asking for His wisdom. It also removes a huge burden to understand every detail.
As Christians we are called to live a life of the Spirit. We should ALL be tuned in to ONE spirit, the Holy Spirit, and commit ourselves to His leading. When we do this there is no danger of mistakes and no need to understand every single detail.
Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
If God gave us every detail of every situation we would have no need for faith, and without faith it would be impossible to please Him.
Hebrews 11:6 ~ But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
There is a passage in Philippians that has come alive to me since I’ve had this revelation.
Philippians 4:6-8 ~ 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
You see, once we do verse 6 and 7, the burden of communication is on Him. In verse 8 it gives us the instruction on what to do while we are believing to be led by the Holy Spirit. We think on these things in verse 8 and it keeps us on the right frequency to receive the leading of Peace, it keeps us in faith and makes our walk pleasing to God.
We don’t need to see how God sees. We only need to see enough to take the next step. Sometimes that step may look like the wrong one in the natural. Sometimes that step will go against your understanding, but the Peace of God PASSES your understanding. This is why we must learn to be led by Peace.
Peace is a present day ministry of the Holy Spirit and is to be the arbitrator of our lives, sitting as ruler over everything and every decision.
Colossians 3:15 ~ And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Bottom line? To really walk by faith we must understand Peace and its function in our lives. The more we walk in Peace, the less we will feel the need to know all the details.