On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest and give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.
~Isaiah 62:7, ESV
I believe that today the Lord wants to both encourage and honor His "watchmen:" those who regularly wait and watch for Him in prayer!
Most of you reading this have an interest in either prayer or the prophetic gifts, and many are called to be “watchmen:” intercessors and prophets for the Body of Christ.
Watchmen (and watchwomen!) are appointed by God to serve as protectors of the Kingdom’s flock. (See Ezekiel 33:7.) They devote hours of their time, usually unseen and often at night, listening to the Lord and praying His heart for His people. Because they make themselves available to Him, they become the first line of defense when the enemy tries to ravage the flock.
I saw this truth demonstrated dramatically during my prayer time one morning.
SKUNKS ON THE RUN
The Holy Spirit woke me at 3:08 AM to total darkness. I am accustomed to these early-morning wake-up calls and have my best prayer times when all is quiet with nothing to distract me. This morning, however, would be different.
As I gathered my robe around me and made my way silently downstairs, I was drawn, as I often am, to the large picture window in my dining room. From this vantage point, I can enjoy the soft light of the moon as it gently illuminates our back yard, making everything look majestic. It is here where we raise a tiny flock of chickens.
There was no moon this morning. As I surveyed my property, all was dark except for one tiny white triangle moving along the ground, scavenging. I squinted and recognized the white triangle as the face of a hedgehog cleaning up the remains of what scraps we had fed our chickens earlier that day.
Too curious now to pray, I remained at the window for a few moments to be sure that there was no danger from this predator.
Unfortunately, I was so focused on the hedgehog’s movements that I didn’t notice at first what was happening nearby in my chicken run.
As the hedgehog made its way closer and closer to our coop, I wondered: do hedgehogs eat chickens? I had baby chicks out there.
Suddenly, all my senses went on high alert. I decided to get a flashlight, make some noise, and hopefully scare away this wild animal.
The moment I turned on the light, my eyes saw the true danger. The hedgehog was only a distraction; there were two skunks in our chicken run, and one of my chickens was completely vulnerable, standing no more than two feet away!
While it’s rare, we have had skunks eat chickens before. Immediately I ran upstairs to wake my husband. I did not want to risk being sprayed by skunks and I had no idea how to get them out of the run. But I knew he would!
Together, with me shining the light and my brave, barefoot husband taunting the skunks with a long stick, we were able to drive them away from the coop. Our chickens were safe.
We discovered afterward that there was a breach in the chicken wire fence surrounding the coop: a hole big enough for predators to enter in.
Praise God, skunks in the run became skunks on the run because God used me as a “watchman” over my little flock! Had I not obeyed the Holy Spirit when He woke me to pray, I could have lost my entire flock in just one night.
At long last, I sat down to listen to the Lord. He began to speak to me about the value of a watchman.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A WATCHMAN
"Watching" in prayer is different in that it is prophetic, or Spirit-led, in nature. Just like the early-morning warning God gave me to protect my flock, prophetic prayer is initiated by God to encourage and defend His flock as needed.
This type of prayer is not limited to simple prayers of supplication and petition! It moves beyond the priestly role of presenting typical needs of God’s people into a more prophetic role, praying with Jesus our great Intercessor as He prays from His throne.
Praying this way requires a shift in your perspective: just as the watchmen of old climbed a tower or stood on a wall to heighten their ability to see and perceive danger, so prophetic prayer warriors today take time to ascend in the Spirit, praying from a place of victory in the Presence of the Lord!
While younger believers may debate over how long to pray and the best times to pray, you as a watchman recognize that there is no formula or limit to prayer. You might encourage a new believer to begin with 15 minutes a day; you might believe a leader needs to spend at least a “tithe” (2.5 hours) of her time in prayer daily; yet in your heart, you know that being a true watchman is Spirit-led, demanding 100% availability and participation!
You are available to God at His request, not yours, day or night, as Isaiah describes above. Why? Because the call on your heart is to cry out to the Lord for restoration, salvation, protection, redemption, and ultimately for His beautiful Presence to fill the earth!
The Bible describes these characteristics and functions of a watchman (Click here to download a print-ready copy):
You are appointed by God (Ezekiel 3:17; 33:7)
You pray tirelessly for the establishment of God’s Kingdom (Isaiah 62:6)
You listen for God’s voice (Habbakuk 2:1-20)
You inform leaders and kings of impending danger; changes and “shifts” in the natural or spiritual landscape (2 Sam 18:25)
You announce publicly what you see prophetically (Jeremiah 31:6; Isaiah 21:6)
You write or publish the visions you see (Habbakuk 2:2)
You warn believers and nations of danger, sounding the alarm (Ezekiel 3:17)
You rejoice at the Lord’s coming (Isaiah 52:8)
You know what to look for, discerning between good and evil (Isaiah 56:10)
You know who belongs to the flock and who is an outsider (2 Sam 18)
You open the door for true shepherds and reject the enemy (John 10:3)
You serve as the first line of defense in building and in battle (Nehemiah 4:9)
Your watching is only effective while the Lord is in charge (Psalm 127:1)
You are responsible to warn but also expect that some warnings will go unheeded (Jeremiah 38:17; Ezekiel 3:17;33:7; Isaiah 6)
You know that your call is to watch and warn regardless (Ezekiel 33:4-6)
Hebrews 13:17 says that good leaders keep watch over our very souls, and both submission and honor are due to those who watch faithfully and protect us spiritually.
Prayer warriors and prophets, I want you to know that your sacrifices are both seen and appreciated by the Lord! Your petitions are heard in heaven, and as swiftly as my husband rose from his sleep to protect our flock when I warned him, so the Lord Himself arises to defend you! (See Psalm 12:5 for a promise you can pray.) Your prayers set skunks on the run!
Not only that, but the enemy’s attacks also serve a purpose: they show us where breaches are that need repairing.
Think of it this way: every attack of the enemy exposes him somehow, allowing us to become wiser and more successful in discerning his schemes. I can assure you there will be no more holes in my fences after last night’s attack! A diligent watchman calls attention to danger and alerts us to what must be rebuilt in order to survive.
HOW OFTEN DO WATCHMEN PRAY?
David worshiped the Lord after every six steps when he moved the ark to Jerusalem.
Daniel prayed three times a day from his window even though he was a busy national leader.
Nehemiah appointed 50% of his people as watchman-warriors while rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall.
Ezekiel lay on his side for 390 days to atone for Israel’s sins.
Jesus often ministered all day and prayed all night.
The early church devoted themselves to constant prayer.
Ephesians 6:18 calls us to pray in the Spirit at all times.
For the watchman, continual prayer is not a burden at all, but joy because the Lord has called and commissioned you to it!
Today, know that you are highly esteemed by the Lord for your sacrifices. Because of you, angels are empowered to act. Because of you, thousands will be saved, restored, and released into their God-given destinies. Because of your obedience and partnership with the Lord, people around the world are being blessed with His power, protection, and love!
God bless you! The Lord arises to the sound of YOUR voice and scatters the enemy! As the darkness grows, may your light shine even brighter. May you never recoil from your task in fear but always cry out to the Lord who rescues you. (Psalm 107.) May you trust that as you do your part communicating with God, God will do His part because He has a covenant of love with you. He will arise because you are His friend!
Blessed is the one who listens to Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting beside My doors.
QUESTIONS FOR LEADERS:
1. What value do you place on prayer? Do you give greater emphasis to feeding, nurturing or building the flock in your care than to protecting it through prayer? Do you honor those who serve in more “visible” ministries yet neglect those who work, unseen, as watchmen?
2. The Bible clearly states that putting God first through prayer is essential. Nehemiah devoted 50% of his resources to watchful prayer while building Jerusalem’s wall. Because of this, he was successful. What percentage of your time and resources do you devote to prayer? Are there ways you can make yourself more available to God as a watchman? Are there ways your church could make prayer a higher priority? Consider freeing up those who have a call to pray, releasing them from tasks that might distract them from this equally important work.
3. Is there someone you know who devotes himself/ herself to the hidden work of prayer? Take a moment today to encourage them that their work is not in vain! (Hebrews 6:10) We are called to give greater honor to less presentable parts and to encourage one another daily. Let them know that their work is not forgotten by God. Even better - share this post along with a note saying that God desires to honor them for their loving sacrifice!
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Deborah Perkins is a seasoned prophetic teacher, author, and Christian leader with more than 35 years of ministry experience across denominations. At God's request in 2013, she founded His Inscriptions, an online ministry devoted to helping people worldwide “Discover Life-Giving Communication with God.” Through her website, inspired teaching and a weekly blog, Deborah offers discipleship to those who want to grow their relationship with God. Deborah currently lives in New England with her hubby, 3 sons, one cat and a coop full of chickens. Learn more about Deborah or order her books on her author page.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.