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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 36 - Mark 13:33 - Watch and Pray Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




Watch And Pray.


"Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is."

-Mark 13:33.



     There is a threefold exhortation here in reference to the coming of the Son of Man; (1.) take heed; (2.) watch; (3.) pray.

     I. Take heed. Or "look;"-look about you;-have your eyes on the alert; mark every object,-persons and things; let nothing escape your notice. A Christian is not to close his eyes and see nothing here. He is left here that he may both see and hear. And out of every sight and sound he is to extract something that will profit, quicken, stimulate, sanctify. What he sees each hour as he goes out and in; what he hears in conversation, or reads in books and newspapers; all are to furnish materials for his growth. But perhaps the special reference in the expression "take heed," is to the previous discourse concerning the signs of his coming.  Keep your eyes open to these.  Understand what is passing day by day; interpret events; connect them with the coming of the Son of Man. You see false Christ's; you hear a Babel of opinions; you mark the new forms of immorality and infidelity; you are startled with the bold assaults made on Scripture, and on the Christ of God, on his blood, and cross, and righteousness;-connect all these with the coming of the Lord; interpret them as signs of the last days; do not treat them as common things; do not close your eyes upon them; do not be indifferent to them; do not admire them as tokens of intellectual development and human progress. Understand them all according to God's purpose and mind. Examine them in the light of apostolic teachings and warnings. Be not deceived concerning them. Beware of the strong delusion. "In under-standing be men."

     II. Watch. Keep awake. Be not like the virgins who all slumbered and slept. Let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober. How often was that word "watch" upon the Lord's lips! His apostles took it up in their epistles; and in the Apocalypse the Lord resumes it,-"Blessed is he that watcheth." There is a tendency to slumber. As the disciples, both on the transfiguration hill and in Gethsemane, fell asleep, so do we in the most solemn circumstances and times. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak. The atmosphere of earth seems loaded with slumberous vapors. This present evil world exercises a soporific influence; Satan, its god, the prince of the power of the air, does all he can to lull us asleep. It is a struggle to keep awake. Hence the necessity for the solemn and startling words "awake," "arise," "watch." Be ever on your guard, as sentinels at their post; as watchmen on the towers of some beleaguered fort; as seamen navigating some difficult stream with windings, and sand banks, and rapids; or as servants sitting up at night to wait for their master's return. "What I say unto you, I say unto all, watch." "Be vigilant, for your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." In the midst of a heedless world and an unwatchful church, how needful the perpetual warning, "Watch." And all the more as we see the day approaching. The more that we see a world "sleeping;" or wasting its hours in vanity, and pleasure, and lust, and gaiety, the more let us feel the necessity for resisting the wide-spread influence and keeping awake. "Let us not sleep as do others."

     III. Pray. "Watch and tray that ye enter not into temptation." He spoke a parable that men ought always to pray and not to faint. "The end of all things is at hand, be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." Prayer is the attitude of a helpless, needy man; whose only refuge is in God. No help within; no help from man; only help in Jehovah's omnipotence;-that is the meaning of prayer. Prayer is always needed; most in days of evil and trouble. Do we feel our need of prayer? Do we know what it is to pray? Do we delight in prayer? Do we pray in faith? John Welch's knees were hard with his constant prayer,-are ours in danger of becoming so? "Pray much," said Alexander Peden; "it's praying folk that will get through the storm."

     (1.) Pray for our own needy selves. Nothing but prayer will keep us steadfast, or enable us to grow, or make us more than conquerors.

     (2.) Pray for the needy church of God. God has a church, and will have a church everywhere on earth; but in some ages that church is low and barren; more earthly than heavenly; her light dim; her step feeble; her strength small. It is so now. Pray, then, for a needy church, that in all these respects God would visit her; raising her up; reviving her; re-kindling her light; re-invigorating her strength, re-adorning her with all gifts and graces; re-clothing her in apostolic raiment, and sending her forth to do his work with the old power and success of primitive days.

     (3.) Pray for a needy world. It is blind, and knows it not; poor, and thinks itself rich; foolish, and thinks itself wise. It is doubly needy. It is not aware of the extent of its ruin, and alienation, and depravity; not alive to its danger and hopeless prospects; not anticipating its doom. There is a hardening, and searing, and blinding process going on in connection with "modern progress." The men of earth now are like the Antediluvians in the days of Noah; like Sodom, on its last day before the judgment came; like Pompeii, ere the volcano poured its torrents of fire upon it; like Babylon, in the night when Cyrus seized it; like Babylon the great, in the day of its pride. Oh, pray for a needy world! Not merely for its civilization, or its reformation, or its intellectual and moral elevation; but for something deeper and more decided than these; something without which morality, and literature, and intellect will profit nothing; something without which its science, its eloquence, its wisdom, its music, its proficiency in the fine arts, will not avail.

     Our Lord's reason for all this is solemn,-"Ye know not when the time is." The "time" is that referred to in the previous verse; the unknown and untold hour of his arrival. It is this great event that forms the urgent reason for taking heed, for watching, for prayer. He is coming! We know not when. He is coming! It may be soon. This is no time for carelessness, or sleep, or prayerlessness. Church of the living God! up from thy bed of sloth; to thy knees; watch and pray. Man of God, enter into thy closet,-plead with all thy might.

     O heedless sinner! wilt thou not awake? Arise, call upon thy God. Betake thyself to the great refuge.