One of the things Paul tells us about prayer is the need to stay alert. Prayer can be hard work; in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus entered into a time of prayer, a time of fellowship, a time of communion with His Father, but He also asked the other disciples to ‘stay here and keep watch with me.’ (Matt 26:38) When He returned to them, He found them sleeping and said, ‘“Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”’ (Matt 26:40-41)
The Bible exhorts us in many places to wake up and not be asleep (see 1 Thess 5:6-8, Is 52:1, Eph 5:14, Rev 3:2). When I used to invigilate exams, there was a need to stay alert. An invigilator is required to ‘keep watch’ over candidates, but in the peace and quiet of an exam room, with the sun shining through windows, this can be a difficult thing to do. The invigilator has to stay alert and cannot afford to slumber. In the same way, we can’t afford to be sleeping when we should be praying. We need to be disciplined and committed, setting aside time to pray because we know this is our lifeline to God. This may mean getting up a little earlier than ideally we’d like to… spending some time at lunchtime in prayer instead of just reading a newspaper or chatting to colleagues… saving some time at the end of the day for God. It’s surprising how hard it can be to concentrate when we start to pray, but we can overcome this lethargy by taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10;5)
.God’s word and prayer are two of the greatest blessings God gives us and also two of the greatest weapons we have. He doesn’t leave us in battles without the right equipment; He gives us everything we need to overcome. The blessings actually become the means to win the battle! As we stay alert, depend on God’s word and rely on prayer, we are enabled to become victorious in the spiritual battles of life.