Jesus said; “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41) He was talking to Peter who had fallen asleep in the garden of Gethsemane before Jesus’ arrest. Of course for Peter, his sleepiness had big consequences; he DID fall into temptation when he denied he even knew the Lord.
Why doesn’t Jesus just say to pray so you won’t fall into temptation? No, instead he says to both watch and pray. Most of us understand what praying is but what is involved in watching? How do you “watch”?
I have a friend who cannot fall asleep when she is riding as a passenger in a car. No matter how tired she is, she feels compelled to stay awake in case her help is somehow needed. She keeps her eye on traffic, observes the condition of the road, prays in case of bad weather, and maintains conversation so the driver will stay alert.
Watching is something like that but in the spiritual realm. Watching is being alert to all spiritual conditions present so there is less likelihood of being taken by surprise. When you are alert, Satan may try to sneak up but he fails because it’s like you have eyes in the back of your head. You can cut him off at the pass before he lobs his fiery darts.
Prayer without watching first may be less effective because you don’t know exactly how to pray on target. If you have been watchful, however, prayer can be like an arrow hitting the bull’s eye. Maybe if Peter would have been watching he would have been able to pray and avert his fall.
Want to avoid entering into temptation? Pray, yes. But don’t forget first of all to WATCH!