Scanning the Horizon

Michael Beck

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2)

Ancient watchmen needed good eyes. Their duty was to scan the far off horizon for any sign of impending danger. They provided an early warning signal to the inhabitants of their city. They also served as a lookout for messengers who brought an anxious populace news of good or evil.

Watchmen who couldn’t see or who slept on the job ill-served a people who depended upon them for safety. “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.” (Isa. 56:10) Prophets were called watchmen in the Old testament. “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.” (Ezek. 3:17) In the New testament, every believer is called to watch and pray. (Mt. 26:41; Lk. 21:36; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2; 1 Pet. 4:7) What does it mean to “watch and pray,” or to “watch unto prayer?”

Jesus saw that danger was near when He exhorted His disciples to “watch and pray” in the garden of Gethsemane. The danger was not simply what was going to happen, but their own lack of preparedness for it. Their spirit might have been willing to do the right thing, but their flesh was too weak to do it. Watching unto prayer involves not only seeing the danger afar off, but reaching to God for a right response to it. We not only scan the horizon to discover potenital problems in our world, but even more importantly, we reach to God for the provision to meet the challenge. God can give us a word that will keep us in the midst of trouble. He can give us spiritual armor to stand in an evil day. He can give us a word in due season for those who are depending upon us for counsel and encouragement.

At the top of our prayer list should be a request for wisdom, especially when we “fall into divers temptations.” (James 1:2-5) It is not enough to see ourselves surrounded by peril, we must also have eyes to see what God would say to us about it. “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.” (Hab. 2:1) Our prayer life must include hearing as well as speaking.

Man your watchtower – in good times as well as bad. Pray and watch always. Yes, the enemy is always up to no good. But our God always has a countermove. The devil will only give you eyes to see what he is doing. He would strike terror in your heart. Lift up your eyes, beyond the hills, to your God. Let the Holy Spirit give you eyes to discover God’s response.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.