When I wrote “Watch and Pray,” I had just started an optical business, and prayer was a solid foundation in my life for a long time. Being a veteran and small business owner, I’ve seen many prayers answered. I experienced situations that only prayer could work out—not just in the middle of the crisis, but at the beginning.
As an optician who owns an optical shop, I provide eyeglasses and contact lenses. When I order a pair of glasses or contacts for a patient, I pray for the patient, and when the order is complete, I pray for them again. I don’t know what they are going through, but I do know that we all need prayer. Making time to intercede for someone without knowing their needs or what they are going through is a blessing. I’ve also had patients ask me to pray for them about a situation going on in their lives, and I pray with them right then. I’ve learned that if someone asks for prayer or says please pray for me, there is no better time than right now.
Every day I listen to the song “Pray,” sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. It is one of my go to songs and is so powerful.
I used to waste a lot of time on things that people usually end up complaining about—TV shows, the news, our looks, work, a bad call during a game, or whatever it may be. But now I see that that is time I could have used to pray instead. Time spent in prayer reflects who or what we consider important. One of my favorite times to pray is when I’m fishing. It’s like my closet to speak with God when I’m in God’s wonderful creation, especially during a sunrise or sunset. For me, it’s not about catching fish, it’s about being in God’s presence, appreciating all that I have been blessed with, my family, and my friends.
When Jesus told the disciples to watch and pray, he was instructing them to take time to be alone with God. Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I give thanks and praise for all things that God has given me the opportunity to enjoy. Prayer is not simply for complaining and asking for things, it’s a special time to acknowledge all the little things in life that we take for granted. For me, prayer is like eating: it will hold you for a little while, but later you will have an appetite for more.
It’s a new year and a time when prayer is needed more than ever. Do you have a friend that needs prayer? Maybe someone with whom you have a difficult relationship needs prayer. Perhaps you need to pray for your pastor, public safety officers, the military, or your local, state, and federal government. Don’t wait! There is plenty to pray for, and an unending supply of prayers that God is waiting to answer. Prayer is the key. All your woes, your highs and your lows—take them to God for God already knows!
One thing I have done in my many years of reading The Upper Room is to pray for each writer and their family, the state or country where the writer is from, and everyone that is possibly connected to the writer (directly or indirectly), and for the staff of The Upper Room. I have also already prayed for everyone that has read or will read the meditation, and I ask that you pray for me also. God has blessed you to be able to pray!
Our resolve must be different. My prayer is that we have finally reached a tipping point. My hope is that when the protests fade and the marches slow that our will as a church to truly eradicate the scourge of racism won’t dissipate but grows even stronger.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.