The Necessity of Prayer – Lesson XXVIII, Prayer and Vigilance
Matthew 13:24-30, Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
1. Forbearance of sleep; a state of being awake.
2. Watchfulness; circumspection (to inspect all around) ; attention of the mind in discovering and guarding against danger, or providing for safety. Vigilance is a virtue of prime importance in a general. The vigilance of a dog is no less remarkable than his fidelity
3. Guard; watch.
When I joined the U.S. Navy in 1961 I was sent to Rhode Island to Officer Candidate School for 4 months to become an officer.
But one of the necessary duties of a young man there was to stand watches either in the barracks or patrolling the streets around the barracks on a watch called the fire watch.
All of the barracks were wood frame white buildings and were subject to destruction by fire.
I even remember the number of the barracks I lived in, 1122.
But the Navy, rightfully so, was concerned about our lives and always during the night had posted sentries to walk the street to be on guard for fires.
We were not there to keep the enemy out of the barracks for the only enemy we were to look for was fire.
But it was not just to watch for fire, we were to warn others it we saw fire, we were to alert others of the danger that they were in.
We were to forebear sleep; we conducted our 4 hour watch in a state of being awake.
In other words if we were not vigilant we were useless.
A sleeping sentry is much worse than no sentry at all.
For those who sleep fully depend on the sentry, the one who is vigilant in order that their sleep will be effective.
We expect those who are in leadership roles to be vigilant.
To be constantly on guard lest we are overtaken by our enemies.
So today we will talk about Prayer and Vigilance.
The Apostle Paul describes the Christian in the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians as a soldier or warrior who is ever in conflict, a soldier who is ever vigilant.
Conflict is inherently fluctuating.
Conflict is not at all times constant.
The very fact that conflict is not constant demands vigilance.
Conflict is at times hot and is at times cold.
Conflict consists of ebb and flow, prosperity and adversity, light and darkness, victory and defeat.
In the book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul describes the soldier or warrior’s power, which is the Lord.
He describes the warrior’s amour, which is of God.
He describes the warrior’s foes which are of the devil.
And he describes the warrior’s resource which is prayer.
The Christian soldier is to pray at all seasons if he is to be vigilant.
Prayer is to clothe the amour in which he is to engage the enemy in battle.
Prayer is as an array of weapons displayed to the enemy to drive fear into the enemy.
The Christian soldier, if he fights to win, must pray much.
He who does not pray much does not intend to win.
God gives direction to Pray always with all prayer
Christian soldiers, fighting the good fight of faith, access that only acceptable place of retreat, the place of prayer.
In God’s manual for the fight, in God’s manual for the Christian soldier Paul wrote in:
Eph 6:18-20, Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
It is clear and obvious from scripture that the life of a Christian is a warfare, an intense conflict, a lifelong contest.
We are to pray always, there is never a time to let down!
The Christian life is a battle waged against invisible, ever alert foes, ever seeking to entrap, deceive, and ruin the souls of men.
The Bible is clear.
God does not call men and women to Sunday school picnics.
The Christian life is not filled with holiday pleasures.
The Christian life is not a part time thing to be engaged in on a whim or fancy.
It is not walked on a primrose path.
No aroma of roses is sensed on this path.
On the contrary the Christian life demands effort, it demands wrestling, and great struggling.
The Christian soldier is called upon to put his full energy into the fight in order to frustrate the enemies of God and to come off as more than conqueror.
God fully expects victory for he has fully armed and prepared his soldiers for the battle.
The Christian soldier goes forth to battle with the flag of Christ which is embroidered with the words, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!
The Christian life from start to finish is pictured in the Bible as war.
From the new birth to the last beat of the heart it is war.
There is no Rest and Recreation until the great general we serve declares it to be.
There remaineth a rest for the people of God but it isn’t now.
This is the time of battle.
Does the devil back off when you go on vacation?
If anything he turns up the attack.
The marching orders of the Christian is to “endure hardness like a good soldier.”
Is this the understanding of the average Christian?
How much does the average church member know of this conflict and the demands Christ makes upon him?
How ignorant is the man who lacks faith, of the battle that is going on all around him.
How ignorant he seems to be of the enemies he will encounter if he serves God faithfully!
He seems oblivious to the fact that the world, the flesh and the devil will oppose any advance toward God.
There is little if any understanding of the battle.
And if there is little understanding of the battle there is no need to put on uncomfortable amour and engage oneself in praying always and watching with all perseverance.
For that takes great effort.
But for the child of God who understands the conflict, who has his eyes open to the conflict, there is only one refuge.
That child rushes to put on the whole armor of God and rushes to the feet of the only One who will provide the wherewithal for the fight.
The Christian soldier wrestles not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places.
This means “wicked spirits in high places.”
Paul understood clearly the forces that were set against him and it is no wonder he used military language to urge God’s children to “put on the whole armor of God,” and “to pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.
Paul suffered the wounds of a soldier daily as he fought for the cause of Christ.
Paul had a military mind, a mind that was dedicated to the cause regardless of the wounds that came from that dedication.
Today there is hardly a trace in the church of the militancy of the Christian life that Paul displayed.
Do Christians look at themselves as soldiers?
Am I a soldier of the Cross, a follower of the lamb?
The discipline, self-denial, willingness to suffer hardship, dogged determination, that is prominent in the military life has largely disappeared from Christian works.
And that is because there is little faith to believe what God says about the enemy.
Instead of an alert sentry the church is a sleeping sentry.
Today’s Christian does not have a clear idea of the character of the life that he has entered.
Sometimes I think that Christians think the Christian life is to be a joyride.
He knows little of his enemies.
He may not even believe he has adversaries of his immortal soul.