Challenge Day 3

It’s day three of the challenge! How are you keeping up? I’ll be honest—it’s a challenge for me (but I think that has to do with me writing the challenges along with doing them).

Review. Days 1 and 2 of the challenge had us thinking of communication with God through prayer—specifically, being deliberate about being thankful in prayer and praising and worshipping God through prayer. Each day, we read a Psalm to help us focus and then spent a few minutes in prayer. Communicating with God through prayer is one way we can grow in our faithand it’s one of the simplest (or, perhaps for some, hardest) ways to start growing.

Inspiration. Our inspiration for these first few days of the challenge is (and has been) Colossians 4:2, in particular the words prayer and thankful:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (NIV)

Today, let’s turn our attention to that little word watchful.

Antique lantern on a mantel. Photo text: Challenge Day 3, watchfulness & prayer. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

When I chose this verse a few days ago and came to that word, I skipped over it to the easier part. Thankfulness. There are numerous places to encounter people’s thankfulness, gratitude, gratefulness, etc.—but how many times in our society do we encounter the advice to be watchful? What does Paul (the author of this book of the Bible) even mean by this?

As I was exploring this idea, I turned to one of my favorite resources, If you haven’t ever used it, try it out! From there I read different versions of the verse, discovered several cross references for it, read different commentaries on it, and even delved into the Greek grammar for the original word used in the text. Basically, the idea of watchfulness here equates to alertness, and to some degree even wakefulness. It’s interesting to me that the Greek form of the word is a present participle active verb—in other words, it’s like an adjective and a verb put together, but one that indicates a continuous tense: Something not merely in the past, not merely in the present, not merely to do/be in the future, but something that should always be so. But it’s also active, meaning simply that there is action involved: it’s not just descriptive (as an adjective could be), but Paul is telling us to take action to BE watchful and alert.

But what are we to watch for? Why are we to be alert? That’s what we’ll explore in today’s challenge.

Challenge. There are two passages in the New Testament I think capture Paul’s intention when he tells us to be watchful in Colossians. Today’s challenge is to first pray that God will help you understand his word. God tells us that he will honor this type of prayer:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5, NIV)

Then, read through the passages: Matthew 26:36-46 takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane immediately before Jesus’ arrest. In it, he repeatedly asks the disciples to watch and pray with him. Ephesians 6:10-20 is the passage where Paul instructs the Ephesians to put on the full armor of God—and urges them to “be alert and always keep on praying.”

Participate. In a comment below or on the Instagram post for the challenge (@rhondalorraineblog), either describe what you think Paul is urging us to do with those two words “being watchful” or provide an example of a way to ensure we are being watchful. An alternative way to participate is to post a pic on Instagram using the tag #writinglifeaugustchallenge and use the caption for your description (I will see public posts, but not private ones).

6 thoughts on “Challenge Day 3

  1. I have to tell you, I LOVED writing today’s challenge and I LOVED exploring it more when I went through, did the readings, and thought more about it myself. I just put a 4-paragraph explanation of what I’m thinking about what it means to be watchful in prayer on my Instagram account (@rhondalorraineblog), and that was only the beginning of what I got out of this! I’d love for you to think through this yourselves and post what you think here, but I’ll tell you that my reading (and a bit more exploration of the Greek verbs) led to the ideas of attentiveness, alertness, vigilance, perceptiveness, and—my favorite—expectancy. There is a strong sense of being ready for danger, but there is also the sense of praying and expecting God to move—and being ready when he does. What do you think? What does Paul mean when he tells us to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful…”? And how would that LOOK if we were to practice it?

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