This aspect of prayer is often neglected and overlooked. But God's Word makes it clear that "watching" is to be included as a specific element of prayer. The word means to be awake or vigilant. The dictionary defines watch as 'keeping awake in order to guard'; 'a close observation'; or 'to be on the alert'. When used in the Scriptures it means that believers should stay awake spiritually and keep guard.
Both Jesus and the apostle Paul linked watching with prayer. Col 4:2, "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" Peter used the same word in the warning about our enemy. 1Pe 5:8, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" So for us to pray effectively we must be mentally alert and vigilant.
It is important for us to develop a spirit of watchfulness in our prayer time. From the earliest moments Satan seeks to hinder the effectiveness of our prayers. He attacks by drawing our minds away from the key issues of prayer. What can develop if we aren't careful is a habit of praying very shallow prayers which are empty and vague. eg. "Lord bless the folks on our prayer list. Lord bless the missionaries. Lord bless our church. etc."
How to Watch and Pray:
I. Stay spiritually aware of specific needs.
A. Read the missionary prayer letter, or at least read the special prayer list that we distribute.
B. Listen carefully when prayer requests are taken and write them down.
C. Remember: our prayers should be specific and that means we must be alert to the various needs of others.
II. Stay informed concerning the news of the day.
A. Newspapers, radio, and television can keep us up to date with the changes in our world.
B. This is essential for us because we have been given the commission to go into all the world.
C. Ask God to refresh our minds concerning current events and how they may impact the work of God.
III. Ask for the Holy Spirit's leadership in our prayers.
A. Without the Holy Spirit guiding us, effectiveness in prayer is an impossibility.
B. Twice in the Scriptures we are admonished to "pray in the Spirit".
C. He is our prayer partner.
1. note: Ro. 8:26-27
2. We don't know what we need.
3. The Holy Spirit does know what we need.
4. He will help us in our weakness.
5. He will reveal to us our real needs.
6. He will go with us and intercede on our behalf.
After we are girded with our spiritual armor, we are instructed to watch and pray. cf Ep 6:18, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
We begin with praise, followed by a silent waiting, a period of confession, a time of Scripture praying, and watching. Jesus asked His disciples, "Could you not watch with me for one hour?" Let's stay alert in this matter of prayer!