I will never forget the day I went hiking on a popular Alaskan trail this summer with a friend and all of our kids. It was a beautiful day. We came prepared wearing our hiking gear, brought our bear spray, filled our camelbacks with water and brought snacks for the kids. We were the first hikers of the day to set off on the trail.
As we approached the pseudo summit, we had stopped to take a water and snack break. As we were looking around at the beautiful mountain, I had spotted something across the field about 500 ft. from us. I could see something pacing back and forth. At first I thought it was a dog, but then soon realized it was a wolf! Right next to the pacing wolf was another wolf!
We immediately put our dogs back on their leashes and instructed the kids to get together in a huddle around us, stay together to go back down the mountain. As we were walking off the mountain we were praying for God to please keep us safe and protect us from the attack of the wolf pack! I am happy to report we made it safely off the mountain, but were so glad we were alert to our surroundings. If we were not paying attention, the situation could have been so much worse.
Our situation on the mountain that day reminds me of when Jesus took the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray (Matthew 26:-45). Jesus knew the time was approaching when Judas was going to betray Him and be taken away by the Roman soldiers. In the garden, Jesus is overwhelmed with sorrow and asks Peter and two other men to keep watch while Jesus prayed. When Jesus returned from praying, He finds His disciples sleeping. Jesus says, “could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matt. 26:41).
According to Mark 14:41, Jesus goes away and comes back two more times, each time telling the disciples to keep watch and pray. But each time Jesus returns, He found the disciples sleeping. After the third time, of warning the disciples to keep watch and pray, it was too late. A crowd armed with swords and Roman soldiers appeared to take Jesus away.
Jesus knew before the crowd and soldiers came, they were about to be faced with threatening circumstances. Jesus wanted His disciples to not waver in the face of temptation. He was trying to warn them to keep watch and pray so they would not fall victim when confronted with threatening circumstances. Instead the disciples fell asleep.
Jesus was trying to warn the disciples that night in the garden, to remain physically and spiritually awake to keep them from falling into sin. Having an encounter with the wolves that day was a reminder how important it is to be alert not only to our physical surroundings, but our spiritual surroundings as well. Satan can be so quick and deceiving. Like the wolves, he is lurking around ready to attack at any moment. What a great important reminder to stay awake and alert to Satan’s schemes, because he is sneaky! I for one have been a victim and didn’t even realize it.
Just as Jesus instructed the disciples to keep watch and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, is what He asks us to do. Stay alert in prayer; it will keep you close to God’s truth and ready in threatening circumstances.
Even though we were prepared for the hike that day, we weren’t necessarily prepared for our encounter with the wolves (a threatening situation). God heard our prayers that day and kept us safe as we hiked off the mountain. In that situation, our prayers are what kept us safe.
We become more alert and watchful when we are devoted in prayer.
“Devote yourself to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2 NLT
“Be alert and always keep praying.” Ephesians 6:18b NIV
How do you stay spiritually awake?
How has staying alert and watchful kept you safe?