In answer to the disciples’ questions about signs of the destruction of the Temple (which was fulfilled in 70 AD), and the end of the world, we have what is known as a near and far prophecy. This meditation is not about those prophecies as much as it is an exhortation to ponder the words of Jesus, ‘Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.’ (Matthew 24:42)

The meaning is clear. We do not know when Jesus is going to return, but we do know that He tells us to watch. The Greek word for watch means to give strict attention to, be cautious, active;to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one. Vigilance is necessary. The apostle Paul told the saints in Thessalonica, ‘Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:6) Peter exhorts us that, ‘the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.’ (1 Peter 4:7)

An active part of watching is connected to prayer. Praying saints tend to be watchful saints. In fact, praying is a vital part of the armor of God: ‘praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.’ (Ephesians 6:18) So the ability to watch is strengthened by prayer, and according to Colossians 4:2, prayer is strengthened by thanksgiving.

Now date setting for the return of Christ is nonsense. But if the words of Christ mean anything, they tell us to be ready at any moment for His return. That means that I must purpose to pray my way through today. That means that wherever the providence of God leads me vocationally, the singular thing that enables me to guard my heart and be spiritually alert is prayer. It is prayer that keeps me in communion with God. It is prayer that enables me to resist the fiery darts of temptation. It is prayer that keeps me looking up, for my redemption is drawing near. Watch and pray, beloved, for the thief is on a mission to devour. But rather than be thief-conscious, draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Pray in your day, pray throughout your day.