Watch and Pray

Jesus once said to his disciples, “What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch”. Mrs. Eddy often spoke of the need for watchfulness. In Science and Health, she writes: “Silent prayer, watchfulness, and devout obedience enable us to follow Jesus’ example”. She also counsels us: “Be watchful, sober and vigilant. The way is straight and narrow which leads to the understanding that God is the only Life”.

I recently came across an article in a Christian Science Sentinel entitled WATCHING, by John Lathrop (October 13, 1923), where he writes at length about the real meaning of watching in Christian Science. Watching includes steadfastness in the truth. He illustrated this point with a story from the American Civil War between Union and Confederate soldiers, which I’d like to share with you this evening. (AND I QUOTE):

“A Confederate soldier and a few comrades were creeping stealthily up to the Union breastworks. They were sharp-shooters, and they were seeking a Union sentinel who was marching up and down the breastworks. When they came within firing distance, the leader knelt down and took careful aim at the sentinel. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, his attention was arrested by the sound of someone singing a hymn, and he realised that the singer was the person at whom he was aiming. He paused, listened, and waited until the singer had finished the hymn. Then he rose to his feet and said, “Boys, we will go home now”. They turned and disappeared in the underbush.

Years after the war, this Confederate soldier was crossing the ocean. It was Sunday evening, and some of the passengers were singing hymns. During one hymn, he was startled by the strange familiarity of the voice next to him. He said to the man, “Where have I heard your voice before?” They compared notes, and the man turned out to be the Union soldier. “Yes, I well remember that occasion”, he said. “While marching up and down that day, I was suddenly seized with a sense of great

danger. I couldn’t see the danger, or hear it, and in my extremity my thought went out wholly to God for refuge and protection. I could think of nothing to do but sing that dear old hymn of refuge and safety which I had learned in childhood, “Jesus, Lover of my soul”. Then a strange thing happened. When I was half way through the hymn, suddenly all sense of danger vanished, and I was at peace”. (END OF

That man was watching...he was alert, and sensing danger, he reached out to God for protection. Watching and praying had kept him safe from harm. In effect, he was listening to God’s angel thoughts, those spiritual intuitions which keep us safe and on “upward wing”.

Mrs. Eddy writes, “Watch, pray, demonstrate. Released from materialism, you shall run, and not be weary, walk and not faint”. And in her much-loved hymn, “O gentle presence”, she lovingly reassures us:

Beneath the shadow of His mighty wing,
In that sweet secret of the narrow way, Seeking and finding, with the angels sing: “Lo, I am with you alway,” - watch and pray.

Explore More Living It Posts