Watch, wait and pray
“Good shot,” Vance said, as he went after the ball that zipped pass him on the tennis court.
He repeated those words several more times as I lobbed balls outside his reach but still on the court — much to my delight (even as some were lucky shots). Being able to keep up and return the ball consistently to Vance, Greg’s tennis partner, means I have gotten better since this spring.
For the past few months, with some exceptions, I’ve been getting up early to volley with Greg, sometimes Vance and now more frequently with Jillian. I can feel and see the difference in the trajectory of my shots. More of them are going into the court than out, and I am hitting with more power. I’ve gotten better at watching the ball when it leaves my opponent’s racket, waiting for it to come into my court, and positioning myself to return the ball.
Watch. Wait. Hit. Those three principles help me position myself and remain focused on the tennis court.
Off the court, two of those tenets –“watch” and “wait”— also have become part of my year-long prayer journey. For the last two days, I have been thinking about what the Bible says about waiting on the Lord and being of good courage and “watch and pray.”
Remember when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He told the disciples to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Instead, they kept falling asleep. (Mark 14: 32-41)
Well, I know from my own prayer life that watching and praying requires vigilance and perseverance. Some days require more personal persistence than others, more diligence to keep prayer time sacred and more desire to hear from God. Watching and praying puts us in position and readies us to move according to God’s direction. To not remain watchful and prayerful is like missing a key shot on the tennis court. To not wait on the Lord for guidance is like constantly hitting balls out of bound.
Some years ago I read what Watchman Nee, a noted 20th century Chinese church leader, wrote about the necessity of watching and praying. His words encourage me to continue to pray without ceasing.
“The easiest target of attack in the life of a child of God is prayer. We must be watchful in guarding the time set aside for prayer, protecting the prayer that is being prayed, preventing all worthless and vain prayers, and precluding Satan from interrupting our prayers. We must watch for the effects of our previous prayers and adjust our current prayers accordingly. Prayer is a ministry — a more excellent service.”
Are you watching and praying?