We know to pray.  We know to be thankful.  But to watch?  What exactly does Jesus mean?

Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

To be watchful is to be aware and to be alert to surroundings.  The reason someone “watches” is typically for protection.  A guard is put on watch to protect that which is important.  Or when there is a “tornado watch” it is to be aware in order to protect that which is valuable–life.

To be on watch means that there is the expectation of something to come that’s important.  And the exact time of that expected event happening is unknown.  It could be a short time or a long time.  But to be aware and looking for signs for that something to come.

In the Scripture watching is often to be aware of temptation and to escape events about to happen.   It was a watching to protect and guard something, mainly our souls.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Watching wasn’t passive but something oftentimes coupled with prayer.   Several times in Scripture we see “watch and pray” used together.

We oftentimes watch the news.  Through it we even have an expectation of bad things to come (at least in this nation).  People are watching for signs for an economic meltdown or another world war.  But when it happens, it’s not enough to say, “See!  I told you so.”  That won’t much matter.  What matters is that we watch AND pray.  We pray for our protection from evil, we pray we won’t forget God’s ways, we pray for faithfulness, and I also believe we pray for God’s mercy even in judgment.

But in the watching we stay alert and sober-minded.

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

1 Peter 1:13
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

 1 Peter 5:8
 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I think in these times we need to heed the advice to watch, pray and be thankful.  It doesn’t say watch and be despairing and fearful.  It doesn’t say watch and do nothing.  It says to pray, being watchful and thankful.  Thankful that for those who hold firm to the end, Jesus is our salvation.  Watchful so that we are aware of that which is going on around us.  Not so drunk on entertainment and electronics that we forget.  And “devout in prayer.”  Devotion requires sacrifice of things we want to do and where we want to spend out time. It’s the time of sobriety as the Scripture says.

Perhaps we all need to get the Kitchen Safe and put our computer cords and phones in it.  It’s a timed lock box with no password to open it up.  Then get back to our knees, our Bibles, and our eyes that are watchful on what God is doing in the world.