DAY 11 - STAY ALERT

Through prayer, we have access to the God of the universe, the Creator of all things…our heavenly Father. Yet lots of us struggle to take full advantage of this amazing gift, and we fall asleep on the job.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God's mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God's ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

EPHESIANS 6:18-20 (NLT)

OUR DEVOTIONAL

When I was 22 years old, I joined the Army, and went off to Basic Combat Training (BCT). Everyone who joins the Army goes through this training. One aspect that you learn in BCT is the importance of staying alert and being always ready for the enemy. One of the ways soldiers train for this is by doing “fire guard.” No, you’re not watching to see if the building burns down; you are watching for the enemy. Every soldier participates in fire guard every night for one hour. During your hour, you stay awake, you wait, and you watch…very exciting.

I remember one night when I was woken up to loud yelling and commotion. Our drill sergeant found the fire guard soldier asleep during his watch. Being the drill sergeant, of course he woke up the soldier very loudly. Then he had all the soldiers in our platoon get out of bed, and we spent the next 30 minutes doing pushups and other super fun exercises.

Our drill sergeant wanted us to see the importance of standing watch, to be prepared for what might happen. “When you’re in combat and you fall asleep on your watch, you and your platoon can all get killed!” I will always remember these words from my drill sergeant.

A couple years later, I did the real thing while deployed in Afghanistan. I stood watch many, many nights while out on missions, waiting and watching for the enemy, reporting their movements to my commanding officer. Most of the time, nothing happened on my watch; in fact, it was pretty boring. Sometimes, I saw movement that turned out to be nothing. But every once in a while, I observed enemy movement that turned out to be mission critical. I will always remember the importance of staying alert and being ready.

We are called to do the same in our prayer life. Every day, we stand watch against the enemy for ourselves, our families, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. This might look different depending on what’s going on in our community. Our prayers for Bruce’s healing are one example. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit might prompt us to pray for an acquaintance with no information about what’s happening in their life. It could also include simply being diligent about asking for blessing and protection for yourself, your spouse, and your kids every day before work or school. It’s okay if it feels “commonplace” or “normal.” It’s still the vital work of standing watch in prayer.

Sometimes, honestly this watchful prayer can seem boring, like we’re not doing anything; but sometimes, it’s life-and-death important. We need to develop the discipline of persistent, watchful prayer. When I saw enemy movement, I called it in to the artillery unit, and they “took care of it.” In some ways prayer is the same. We can “call in” our situation and requests to God, and then He works; He “takes care of it.” We can’t let the enemy get by us without calling “artillery” (that is, God). Not only that, He wants us to “call in” all sorts of things: our needs, requests, feelings… everything!

FAMILY MOMENT

As a family talk about what it would be like to stand watch (it’s cold, lonely; you’re tired; time moves slowly; it can be scary) and the consequences if you fall asleep (people could die). Then shift the conversation to how it feels sometimes when we are praying non-stop for an issue. Maybe we feel like we’re the only one praying. What might happen if you “fall asleep” (spiritually) in your prayers? Make a list of family and friends who don’t know Jesus to pray for each week. Then pray together.

PRAYER & REFLECTION

  1. Evaluate your prayer life, on a scale of 1-10, 1 being not good and 10 being absolutely amazing. How is your prayer life, and what can you do to move up 1 number?
  2. Can you pray alone for an hour? Do you need to develop this discipline?

When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”

MATTHEW 26:40-41 (MSG)
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