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Be On Guard, Stay Alert | Watch and Pray Pt. 2

Jesus encourages us to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. Watching is as important as praying. If you pray without watching then most likely temptations will overcome you.

Last week we looked at the detailed definition of the word “watch” with some examples of its usage in the Bible. If you missed it you can visit Watch and Pray (Part One).

Today we will examine how the hours of each watch are divided and their significance.

The hours of the watch

The Jews formerly have three watches and they were:

  1. The first watch is from sunset to night – 6 pm to 10 pm (lamentations 2:19).
  2. The middle watch is from 10 pm to 2 am (Judges 7:19).
  3. The third watch is from 2 am to sunrise (1 Samuel 11:11).

However, when the Romans took over the Jewish nation the Jews adopted the Romans’ four watches.

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The Roman guards worked on four shifts and these are called watches.

The first watch is from 6 pm to 9 pm, the second watch is from 9 pm to 12 am, the third watch is from 12 am to 3 am and the fourth watch is from 3 am to 6 am.

These watches were sometimes called evening watch, midnight, cock crowing, and morning (Matthew 14:25; 24:43; Mark 6:48; Mark 13:35; Luke 12:38).

“Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:” (Mark 13:35)

Let us take a closer look at each of these watches and their biblical significance. We will incorporate the Jews’ three watches within the Romans’ four watches.

The significance of the night watches

The First Watch or the Evening Watch (6 pm- 9 pm) (Intercession)

Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.” (Lamentations 2:19)

According to the above verse, during the first watch, we should cry out to God for our children and pour our hearts unto God.

After a long day of teaching and healing, Jesus often retired during the evening to pray in a secluded area.

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening came, He was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23)

Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples in the evening on the first day of the week after He was resurrected(John 20:19). Therefore, the evening watch is when you will receive revelation from the Lord.

The Second Watch or the Midnight Watch (9 pm – 12 am) (Praise)

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“So, Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.” (Judges 7:19)

The blowing of the trumpet signifies praise and thanksgiving.

“O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. For the Lord most high is terrible; He is a great King over all the earth.

Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. (Psalms 47:1-2,6-7)

We sing and shout praises to God for who He is and what He is about to do in our lives.

It is also a time of unity when the people are gathered together as one to pray and worship the Lord (Numbers 10:3-5).

It is a time to receive a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit (1 Kings 1:39). Our praises during this time become a memorial before the Lord (Numbers 10:10).

It was on the midnight watch that the Lord sent the death angel to smite the First-born Egyptians and deliver the children of Israel from slavery.

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The bridegroom returned at midnight and only the five wise virgins were saved (Matthew 25:6).

It was at midnight that Paul and Silas sang hymns unto the Lord while the other prisoners listened. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake and the foundation of the prison was shaken.

Immediately all the prison doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosened. “And the keeper of the prison, awakening from sleep and seeing the prison doors opened, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.

“But Paul called with a loud voice saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are here.’ Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas and he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” (Acts 16: 16-30)

The Third Watch or the Cock Crowing (12 am to 3 am) (Warfare prayers)

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“Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” (Matthew 26:34)

“And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.” (Mark 14:72)

The third watch is the darkest part of the night when the enemy is plotting to destroy the people of God. “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand.” (Micah 2:1)

Jesus warned Peter that he would deny Him before the rooster crow. Surely enough Peter fell into temptation and denied the Lord three times before the cock crow twice.

Even though the Bible did not state the time, we can assume based on Micha 2:1 that it was in the darkest part of the night that Herodias’ mother plotted to kill John the Baptiste because he spoke against her illicit affair with king Herod (Matthew 14).

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Psalms 37:12-13 states, “The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him: for He seeth that his day is coming.”

When we dwell in the secret place of the most High God we will be protected under the shadow of the Almighty.

Therefore, we will not be afraid of the terror by night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that walks in darkness nor the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand but they cannot enter into our dwelling (Psalms 91).

Clearly, we are protected when we remain watchful and abide in the Lord.

Next Sunday, we will look at the Lord Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry on the fourth watch of the night- the victory watch

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Thank you for reading and continue to watch and pray without ceasing.

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  1. So much truth here Beverley. Believers who partake in late night or all night prayer can sense the spiritual significance in these watches.
    Thank you for presenting these valuable Biblical points. ⚘

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Awesome post. Thank you for breaking down the watches. I participated in a prayer meeting my cousin had during the third watch. She wanted to pray for the young generation and felt many of them where out during that time.

    Liked by 2 people

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