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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 45 : Watch and Pray | Day 313

Watch and Pray With Thanksgiving!

His family and friends were stunned. He was a Godly young man and a role model to all who knew him. He was attending a Bible college, regularly witnessed to others about the Lord, and was the leader of a Bible study. So, it came as a complete shock when one morning his parents discovered that he had taken his own life. The only clue to why he had done this was a suicide note explaining that because he was unable to conquer a certain sin, he had decided to end his life.

This young man was extremely sincere about his walk with the Lord. He was very mindful of the temptations in his life, but he did not have a Biblical focus in his watching. He focused on his inward failures, which caused him to experience great depression and defeat. If he had used his temptations and failures as motivation to look upward at Christ and to cry out to God for His powerful grace, he could have received hope, strength, and forgiveness instead of being overcome with discouragement.

By focusing on the Lord's ability to deliver us from temptation and to cleanse us of sin, discouragement and defeat can be replaced with thanksgiving and rejoicing.

If Satan cannot succeed at discouraging us with our own failures, he will often try to discourage us with the victories of those who oppose God. There is a time to be a "watchman on the wall" and to cry out warning alarms because of the attacks of the enemy. However, if this is our single focus, we will tend to be anxious because of the "progress" that the enemies of the Lord are making. Scripture specifically tells us, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” (Psalm 37:1-2).

Watching and fretting is what Satan wants us to do, because it keeps us defeated and discouraged, but watching with thanksgiving leads to joy and encouragement. Scripture states that we are to bring to God every detail of our need in earnest and thankful prayer. (See Philippians 4:6.) In order to watch with thankfulness, we must see the bigger picture of God's power and purposes in what He allows.

For example, we may watch as various Christians walk away from the Lord. However, instead of becoming discouraged, we can be thankful that God is big enough to reach down and bring them back to Himself. We can thank Him that “he hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. ... Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:10, 13). We can also thank God for the opportunity to demonstrate our love for Christ and fellow believers by praying earnestly for their spiritual condition and trusting God to work in their lives.

We can watch and pray with thanksgiving, knowing that Christ is our source of deliverance from that which would ensnare us. (See II Peter 2:9 and Colossians 4:2.)

Lack of thankfulness to God often springs from an anxious, troubled heart and leads to many other sins. (See Romans 1:21.) Let's purpose to watch and pray rather than watch and worry, giving thanks to God in all things, because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. (See I Thessalonians 5:18.) Remember, Christ has already won the victory!

“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard