S62P5 – Intentional Christianity: the prayerful watch

Luke 21:34-36

But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.

There was a time when the pressures of this world caused him not to rise but to buckle.  Small disappointments and failures did not faze him at first, but as those problems grew so did his frustration and anxiety with this life.  Unknown to him at the time, his issues were rooted in his misunderstanding of what he could expect as a child of God.  What he desired to see in his life was peace and prosperity in his finances, his family and his relationships.  To him, this peace would mean that things simply would run smoothly.  When this did not happen, his prayers to God for release from these various circumstances turned into cursing God for allowing them to happen at all.  The problem was that he was not prepared.  His approach to prayer was always retroactive, seeking the Father only once the unexpected calamity struck.

The enemy would love for us to sit back and take such a retroactive approach to our faith.  He wants us to be unprepared for the troubles that we are guaranteed will come in this life.  He wants us scrambling to try to figure out how to get through circumstances only once they begin to trouble us.  Biblical instruction, however, teaches us to take a proactive approach to the trials and the pressures that are ahead.  We are not only to expect that they will come but also to ask God to prepare us for their arrival.  It is a kind of deliverance that we are instructed to request, but it is not a simple release or removal from the circumstances.  The deliverance we seek is the strength to be able to persevere through what will come instead of asking God to allow us to simply avoid it.  The prayer strengthens us prior to the struggle instead of trying to build our strength only once we are called to rely upon it.

We do not know when certain times will befall us, and we certainly do not know the hour or the day in which our Savior will return.  What we do know is that the words of Jesus Christ himself describe the kinds of times that we can expect, and He commands us to prayerfully prepare for them.  The consequence of ignoring this warning and forgoing our preparation is that we will not be able to escape those times for lack of strength.  If deliverance is what we seek, then we must be active in keeping prayerful watch over our lives and that which is to come.  It is for us to seek direction and deliverance before these times actually fall upon us for they certainly will come.  Father, give us the wisdom and the discipline to keep watch in prayer as preparation for the times that your Son has told us are ahead, that we would be delivered in strength.