Let’s use the opportunity of #GivingTuesday to remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive – be it today or at any other time of the year.
How to watch before, during and after praying.
1 Peter 4:7 reads, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer”.
The end is nigh. Christ’s second coming draws near. Judgment is around the corner.
How, then, such Christians act? With great sobriety!
According to our text we read of two key marks of a sober life, namely, watching and praying.
What does a sober Christian do? Watch and pray! Pray and watch! Pray watching! Watch praying!
The Puritan divine William Gurnall (1617-79) taught that Christians are to watch before, during and after prayer.
1.- Watching Before Prayer
How can we watch before praying?
First of all, we grace-transformed saints should organize our day around prayer. If we do not set aside a specific time during the day to pray; it is highly unlikely we will get around to praying at all. It is a great idea to have a concrete hour of the day dedicated unto the pursuit of God.
If you establish a set-time of the day to pray with your spouse and family, do not let anything else take its place. Let us say that your family time is from six till seven. If someone calls you inviting you to go play golf at that time, just do not go.
It is that simple. Prayer time is God-time. His glory and your family’s spiritual welfare are far more important than other activities.
As well as upholding family worship, do not forsake your local congregation lightly. If you use any old excuse to miss church meetings, your kids will not take spiritual matters all that seriously and they will end up doing the same when they get a little bit older. Kids need to see their parents ablaze for God’s glory.
Secondly, do not allow anything to pollute your conscience during the day. If you spend your whole day flirting with sin, you sure will not have any desire to seek God come even-tide. Sin will suffocate your desire to pray.
God has called you to be a priest and, as the Old Testament teaches, no priest could touch anything unclean. So be brave. Be holy. Be pure. Do not play about with iniquity.
A third practice that helps us to prepare for prayer is taking note of all the blessings the Lord showers upon us throughout the day.
Every day we have new reasons to praise and give thanks unto God. If the Almighty blesses you at work, in your studies or at home; then turn that blessing into a prayer of thanksgiving.
Make prayer material out of your daily experiences. This will keep your soul healthy as you prepare for drawing near to the Lord’s presence at prayer time.
Fourthly, do not forget to pray throughout the day as well. Send up shots of worship to the Lord as you are out and about on the street. Enjoy every moment in the Lord’s good presence.
Phrases such as “Thank You Lord” and “Praise be to Your name, Father” should ever be gushing forth from the regenerate heart.
Praying thus is like sending a WhatsApp message of love to your wife when you are not at home. You send her an “I love you” or a kiss emoticon so she knows you are thinking about her.
What wife would dislike her husband acting so? Why, then, would God not rejoice in hearing those spontaneous praises of thanks that His children offer Him throughout the day? Did not God create man to have communion with him?
2.- Watching During Prayer
How can we watch during prayer?
To kick off, you have got to be wise with the time you establish for domestic prayer. If you get your family together at eleven at night, everyone is going to fall asleep within the first five minutes.
Pick a time of the day when your mind is alert. My wife and I, for example, celebrate our devotional time almost always after lunch.
Another good piece of advice during prayer is to get rid of distractions. Switch off your mobile or leave it in another room altogether. This is God’s special time with you and your family.
Give God the honour due to His name. If you are not 100% consecrated to the task at hand, you are not going to do it well.
With regards to prayer itself, we follow a three-fold pattern at our local church. We start with praise then proceed to petition and confession.
Nowadays, it is all too common to find Christian prayer abounding in petition. “Lord, do this! Lord, do that!” But such is not the way of the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer starts with God’s glory and only then does it talk about us, our needs and sins. Keep God first in your prayer life.
3.- Watching After Prayer
And what about watching after prayer?
First, analyze your prayers. What did you pray the last time you were before the Lord? How could that prayer be more biblical? Where did you pray amiss? Did you truly honour God?
Did you dedicate more time to praise or to petition? Were you honest about your sins before the Most High or did you hide them? The content of our prayers is a fantastic spiritual thermometer.
In second place, I would encourage you all to look for answers. If you have asked for something according to the will of God, be assured that the Lord has heard you. Wait for the fulfilment of your prayer.
How many times did Moses pray for the Israelites and God responded with His mighty arm? Believe that the Lord is able to convert the young people at your church or your lost loved ones!
Do not give up praying for them just as Monica always pleaded for the conversion of her son Augustine in her time of intercession.
Thirdly, after praying, keep yourself in God’s presence. Keep praying spontaneously. Even when your head hits the pillow, continue meditating upon the beauty and the glory of the Lord.
Remember His promises. Pray. Keep your spiritual appetite alive. If you allow the lamp of your personal devotion to dwindle, you will soon find your desire to attend public worship radically diminishing.
To wrap up this reflection about watching and prayer or prayer and watching, let me ask you about your prayer life. Are you praying and watching? Are you spiritually awake?
Do the public and private means of grace enthuse or bore you? Are you giving a good example at home concerning the pursuit of the Lord? Do your loved ones see that you are on fire for God? How are you spiritually?
May the Lord God Almighty give us all a good dose of this sober spirit of watching and prayer!
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer”.