Our Redeemer perfectly understood the wants of humanity. He who condescended to take upon himself man’s nature was acquainted with man’s weakness. Christ lived as our example. He was tempted in all points as we are, that he might know how to succor all who should be tempted. He has trodden the path of life before us, and endured the severest tests in our behalf. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. Christ took upon himself our infirmities, and in the weakness of humanity he needed to seek strength from his Father. He was often to be found in earnest prayer, in the grove, by the lakeside, and in the mountains. He has enjoined upon us to watch and pray. It is the neglect of watchfulness and close searching of heart that leads to self-sufficiency and spiritual pride. Without a deep sense of our need of help from God, there will be but little earnest, heartfelt prayer for divine aid. Our hearts are deceitful; our foes, many and vigilant. If we neglect to fortify a single weak point in our character, Satan will assail us at that point with his temptations. He is constantly plotting the ruin of the soul, and he will take every advantage of our careless security.
Christ came to our world to engage in single-handed combat with this enemy of man, and thus to wrest the race from Satan’s grasp. In the accomplishment of this object, he withheld not his own life. And now, in the strength that Christ will give, man must stand for himself, a faithful sentinel against the wily, plotting foe. Says the great apostle, “Walk circumspectly,”—guard every avenue of the soul, look constantly to Jesus, the true and perfect pattern, and seek to imitate his example, not in one or two points merely, but in all things. We shall then be prepared for any and every emergency. Unceasing watchfulness is a great help to prayer. It keeps the mind from drifting away from right principles. It shuts out that vanity and trifling which prevails in the world everywhere, and to an alarming extent among professed Christians. He whose mind loves to dwell upon God has a strong defense. He will be quick to perceive the dangers that threaten his spiritual life, and a sense of danger will lead him to call upon God for help and protection.
There are times when the Christian life seems beset by dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. But the clouds that gather about our way, and the perils that surround us, will never disappear before a halting, doubting, prayerless spirit. At such times unbelief says, We can never surmount these obstructions; let us wait until we can see our way clearly. But faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things.
Watchfulness and vigilance are needed now as never before in the history of the race. The eye must be turned off from beholding vanity. Lawlessness, the prevailing spirit of the age, must be met with a decided rebuke. Let none feel that they are in no danger. As long as Satan lives, his efforts will be constant and untiring to make the world as wicked as before the flood, and as licentious as were the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. The prayer may well be offered daily by those who have the fear of God before them, that he will preserve their hearts from evil desires, and strengthen their souls to resist temptation. Those who in their self-confidence feel no need of watchfulness and unceasing prayer, are near some humiliating fall. All who do not feel the importance of resolutely guarding their affections, will be captivated by those who practice their arts to ensnare and lead astray the unwary. Men may have a knowledge of divine things, and an ability to fill an important place in the work of God; yet, unless they cherish a simple faith in their Redeemer, they will be ensnared and overcome by the enemy.
It is because the duties of watchfulness and prayer have been so sadly neglected that there is so great a lack of moral power. This is why so many who have a form of godliness bring forth no corresponding works. A careless indifference, a carnal security concerning religious duties and eternal things, prevails to an alarming extent. The word of God exhorts us to be found “praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance;” and again, “Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” Here is the Christian’s safeguard, his protection amid the perils that surround his pathway.
— E.G. White, Review and Herald, 10/11/1881