Watch and Pray

By Pastor Teck Uy

Recent events show that we are living in an increasingly vicious world. We need to be watchful so as not to be caught by surprise. Through the prophet Hosea, the Lord warned, “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). This knowledge not only refers to our knowledge of the Lord and of His word, but also being aware of what is happening around us. In fact, even Jesus wanted us to watch for the sign of his coming, saying, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come…Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt. 24:6, 42).

When Jesus was with his disciples at the Garden of Gethsemane, he said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). This message is still true today. We are surrounded by all kinds of trials and tests, and unless we are alert and prayerful, we can easily get entangled and fall. The pressure to compromise our faith mounts when we allow ourselves to be overcome by the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. As in the days of the apostles, the Lord’s warning today still stands – “Watch out!”

There are four things that we need to watch out for. The first thing is false prophets. The Lord warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matt. 7:15). There are many deceivers around, and their only objective is to mislead believers. They preach a message other that what we know as “truth” in Scriptures. They deny the deity of Jesus and put their confidence in flesh. To detect their true identity, Jesus said, “By their fruits you will recognize them” (v. 16).

The second thing to watch out for is false gods. Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Unless we are able to control our appetite for material things, those very things that we crave will lead us to destruction. Many have been led astray in their faith because of their abundant possessions. They turned to worshipping their possessions rather than God, the provider. The apostle Paul said, “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things” (Phil. 3:19). The reality is that we do not need too much to fully enjoy life. It is the Lord that gives contentment and enjoyment.

The other thing to watch out for is false brothers. The apostle Paul warned, “Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh” (Phil. 3:2). Some brothers are like dogs that come and bite other brothers. Their lives are fitly describes as dogs since dogs return to their vomit. They have a form of godliness but deny its power. The existence of these false brothers goes back to the time of the apostle Paul. We could appreciate Paul’s struggles with them when he said, “This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves” (Gal. 2:4). We should never be enslaved again by sin.

The next thing to watch out for is false security. The apostle John admonished believers saying, “Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully” (2 John 8).  If we do not trust God and lean on him, we may lose all that we have. This is the reason King Solomon, in his proverbs, said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight” (Prov. 3:5-6). There is that great temptation to be proud when we have reached a certain level of success. We do not look back and appreciate what the Lord had done. We tend to claim the glory and account it as a result of our own hard work; “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deut. 8:17-18).

All will go well with us if we heed these warning. Any of these—the false prophets, false gods, false brothers and false security—can derail our walk with the Lord if we allow them to take hold of us. Therefore, let us keep watch and pray lest we fall into their traps. Hallelujah!