Praying The Eight Watches of The Bible
By Mary Ellen Schoonover, PhD.
The Watch of the Lord, or watching in prayer, is very important to the plans and order of God. Jesus commanded us to “watch” with Him in several gospel accounts, particularly in the time called “the last days.” He described how we should respond when we see earthquakes, famines, wars and rumors of wars, and so on.
In Matthew 24 :“Watch out that no one deceives you” (verse 4); “See to it that you are not alarmed” (verse 6); “Stand firm to the end” (verse 13); “Keep watch” (verse 42). In Mark 13: “Watch out that no one deceives you” (verse 5); “Do not be alarmed” (verse 7); “Be on your guard” (verse 9); “Do not worry” (verse 11); “Stand firm” (verse 13); “Be on your guard” (verse 23); “Be on your guard. Be alert” (verse 33); “Keep watch” (verse 35); “Watch out” (verse 37). And in Luke 21: “Watch out that you are not deceived” (verse 8); “Do not be frightened” (verse 9); “Stand firm” (verse 19); “Stand up and lift up your heads” (verse 28); “Be careful” (verse 34).; “Be always on the watch and pray” (verse 36).
Jesus gave us the keys of the kingdom, and the keys include prayer:
"Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst" (Matthew 18:19-20).
Jesus wants groups of two or three people to gather in His name and ask in symphony or harmony. (The Greek word translated “agree” is sumphoneo, or “harmonious.”) This is the heart of the “watch of the Lord.”
We are to watch for the good things and good messengers God sends to His people. We are to watch for the gifted ones and the coming of the Lord’s Presence. We are to alert the people to roll out the welcome mat, saying, “Come, come, come, come! Angels of healing, you are welcome here. Spirit of the Lord, You are welcome here. Gifts of the Spirit, you are welcome here. Spirit of conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment come; you are welcome here. Come, come, come, come!” We are to roll out the red carpet to the name and the blood of Jesus, and say, “Come!”
Prayer moves the hands of God. Even as He spoke the universe into creation, God created us in His image. Our spoken words and prayers carry the power of creation within them. As intercessors and God’s watchmen on the walls of our families, cities and nations, we are called to watch over our assignments to see approaching danger and warn those endangered. (2Kings 9:17,18)
We are to watch not only for the enemy’s activity but also for the Lord’s plans. If we watch for the enemy and announce his activity, we can avert the thief’s plans to steal, kill and destroy. As Jesus states in Matt. 24:43, “But know this, if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.” Today, more than ever, it is imperative that intercessors watch and pray, seek the Lord’s direction, and pray, “His will be done in the earth as it is in heaven.”
Studying God’s word reveals a model for prayer that is divided into eight watches covering 24 hours. Based on God’s creation, the days are counted from evening to evening as a day. “God called the Light Day, and the darkness He called Night, so the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Gen. 1:5) Accordingly, the Israelites ordered their prayer times beginning with the First (Evening) Watch from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. which is a time of quiet reflection. Jesus used the evening watch to go aside and pray. (Matt. 14:15-23) In the early church, this watch at sundown was a time of corporate prayer (Vespers) where candles were lit, Psalms sung, thanksgiving offered, prayers said and blessings invoked. After the business of the day, it is a time to release anxieties to the Lord before sleep. During this watch, ask God to give you clear directions for the day ahead and about His call on your life.
The Second Watch is from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. Ps. 119:62 says, “At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous judgments.” It was at the midnight hour that God struck down the first-born of Egypt, and, consequently, His people were released from captivity and set free to worship Him. This watch is a time when God deals with the enemies that are trying to keep us from entering into His perfect plan for our lives. In the natural, this time is characterized by deep darkness. In the spiritual realm, the Second Watch is when diabolical assignments and sabotage are set in motion as supernatural creatures, including witches and demons and practices like black magic, collaborate to effect change and transformation for the evil one. It is important for intercessors at this watch to give thanks for the protection of the shadow of God’s wing and pray for a visitation from the Lord. “Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.”
The Third Watch from midnight to 3:00 a.m. is a period of much spiritual activity. It was the hour that caught Peter denying his Lord. Often we are awakened during this time with dreams God has given to us. God uses dreams and visions to bring instruction and counsel to us as we sleep and reveals areas where we need to concentrate our prayers and intercession. “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instructions.” (Job 33:15) It is a time to pray to fortify yourself against doubt and unbelief and even the direction of your path. Be vigilant during this time and watch for God’s revelation for breakthrough for His plans and purposes for your life and territory.
The Fourth Watch is the morning watch from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. The spirit realm takes every word uttered from man as a command and mandate. Command your morning! Consecrate all the work for the day and pray for protection for God’s people throughout the day. “You will make your prayer to Him, He will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will also declare a thing and it will be established for you: so light will shine on your ways.” (Job 22:27-28)
The early morning Fifth Watch is from 6am – 9am. To watch is to set yourself to see what God will say to you. (Hab. 2:1) Practicing hearing the voice of God is essential to all the watches. One intercessor shared this insight, “I find the main focus of a watch is found this way: the Word and an event in time intersect. That’s it! That is the target. It is like the scope on a gun. The point of the vertical Word and the horizontal time intersect (whether it is a sound, an event, a song). That point is the starting point of the watch.”
Daytime prayer watches include The Sixth Watch from 9:00 a.m. to noon. It is generally accepted that this time period marked both Christ’s sentencing by Pilate and crucifixion, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Israelites also observed this period as a time for corporate prayer. It was at this daily time of prayer and instruction at the temple that Peter and John were attending when they healed the lame man at the Gate Beautiful. (Acts 2: 1-8) The watchman guards and watches for the word of the Lord to be fulfilled. Pray for God’s redemptive purposes in your life and region and watch how He answers your prayer during this time.
The Seventh Watch from noon to 3:00 p.m. at mid-day gives an hour of rest and a time to seek the Lord. Historically, we find Christ on the cross atoning for our sins. Redemption and restoration for mankind manifests through God’s Son. Peter received the vision of the clean and unclean animals which heralded the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s redemptive plan. It was during this watch that Daniel always went home to pray and consequently was thrown into a den of lions. Daniel was delivered from the lions’ den, and Daniel’s accusers became the lions’ dinner instead.
The Eighth Watch of the day from 3:00-6:00 p.m. sees the close of the business day. It gives an opportunity for prayer. The Lord tells us to pray without ceasing. The Bible records a pattern and plan for daily prayer that marshals his army’s forces. Beloved, it’s time to watch and pray.
Author: Mary Ellen Schoonover, PhD.
Goll, James W. “Restoring the Watch of the Lord.” Prophetic word, June, 1991.
Hamon, Jane. Dreams and Visions. Regal from Gospel Light. Ventura, California, 2000.
Pierce, Chuck. God’s Unfolding Battle Plan. Regal from Gospel Light. Ventura, California, 2007.
Pierce, Chuck. Reordering Your Day: Understanding and Embracing the four Prayer Watches. Glory of Zion International Ministries. Denton, Texas, 2006.
Trimm, Cindy. Commanding Your Morning. Charisma House. A Strang Company. Lake Mary, Florida, 2007.