Ephesians 6:18 The Apostle Paul is urging prayer in the ongoing warfare for the believer as it is Satan’s intent to take the believer down. Watchfulness in prayer is commanded. In the original language, a watchman was not meant to keep an enemy out but was to warn as his first job. Watchfulness is to be aware first and foremost.
How does watchfulness, alertness come to be paired with prayer? The outlook, entrance, and content of prayer ought to be watchful. In the context of a battle, watchfulness takes on a particular meaning.
II Samuel 10 – David had sent his emissaries to the son of the king of the Ammonites as a sign of respect on the death of the king’s father. But the emissaries were humiliated. When David retaliated with war the Ammonites hired the Syrians to help fight against the Israelites. Samuel 10:11 Joab made sure the Israelites were aware of where the battle was going on, whether against the Ammonites or the Syrians, and was pledged to fighting where the battle was fiercest. Watchfulness is knowing where the battle is hot. If we are just praying for a list without knowing where Satan is attacking, it is of little value.
Matthew 26:41 In the Garden of Gethsemane the Lord commanded the disciples to watch and pray. Luke 22:53 He stated that it was Satan’s hour. If the believer is watchful for Satan’s hour he can pray in a particular direction. The disciples were not watchful in this way and were overcome.
The outlook of prayer: Because we are often successful at work or in life, we can enter into prayer with a worldly outlook. But prayer is entering into a holy place with God. We can enter into it with our work shoes on, with our successful attitude, but that is the wrong way to enter. The exhortation to watchfulness is often coupled with the exhortation to being sober. Exodus 3:1-5 We forget that Moses was commanded to remove his shoes in the presence of God in the burning bush. We forget that we must come into God’s presence in a particular way, regarding God as holy. Leviticus 10:1-3. We ought not enter as Nadab and Abihu, offering strange fire. Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2 The Lord Jesus commands us to pray “Hallowed be Your name”. We don’t just barge in with our work boots on.
The believer has an incredible privilege to come into God’s presence through Jesus Christ, and the believer has a unique relationship with God as Father. But for an extended period of prayer, the believer ought to “remove his shoes” because “God is in heaven and you on earth” Ecclesiastes 5:2. Psalm 95:1 begins with extended worship and praise. This is a humbling of self to come into God’s presence with worship and awe because He is great above all and holy above all. The believer must stop before anything else, stop and acknowledge God with worship. This is proper watchfulness. The believer has the right to come into God’s presence only through the blood of the Lord Jesus, Hebrews 10:19-22. If we will not stop and worship, we will not be heard as Nadab and Abihu were not accepted. The believer comes into God’s presence with thankfulness for the work of Christ, extolling the greatness of His work. This is also watchfulness in prayer.