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The Scriptorium

Prayer Watches

Ready to pray? Always? Psalm 119.148

Psalm 119.145-152 (3)

Pray Psalm 119.148.
My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.

Sing Psalm 119.148.
(Festal Song: Rise Up, O Men of God)
I seek You through the night to contemplate Your Word.
Bring my poor soul into the light; teach me Your Law, O Lord!

Read Psalm 119.145-152; meditate on verse 148.

1. How did the psalmist approach the daily “watches”?

2. What did he do at those times?

Some important insights to a disciplined life are pointed to here. First is the practice of making ready to pray and seek the Lord. The phrase “are awake” is perhaps better translated by “ready”, since the Hebrew verb קִדַּ֣מְתִּי (qi-DAHM-ti) means “to anticipate or go before to be in front, hence, to prepare or plan for in advance” (BDB Lexicon). The psalmist says his “eyes” are “ready” through the night watches.

This will make more sense if we remove the interpolated word “night” from “watches”, so that we have only “watches”, which perhaps refers to daily set times for prayer (cf. Ps. 119.164; Dan. 6.10; Acts 3.1). Our translation might then read, “I have prepared for each of the prayer watches of the day.” At certain times of the day the psalmist was ready for prayer and meditation. That’s excellent advice.

Many believers follow this practice, using a psalm or part of a prayer list at different times of the day to hang their day on prayer. Whether they pray three or five or seven times a day, having these set times for watching in prayer helps to keep communion with God lively and refreshing.

And by combining those times of watching in prayer with meditation on the Word of God, you ensure that God can speak to you as you set aside time to converse with Him. Keeping these prayer watches can go a long way to having that “pray without ceasing” lifestyle to which Jesus and Paul exhort us (Lk. 18.1; 1 Thess. 5.17).

One excellent way to get started in this practice is to begin your day praying a stanza of Psalm 119 before your reading and meditation on God’s Word. Pray one stanza each day and in 22 days you’ll have prayed through the whole of Psalm 119. Or, pray three stanzas of Psalm 119, spread throughout each day, and four on the Lord’s Day, and you’ll pray through Psalm 119 every week!

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Reading and meditating on the Words about the Triune God and communicating with Him in prayer are what life is all about. As Jesus put it, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17.3). And if we are wise, we will pursue those Words as often as possible, regardless of the day, or the time, or the season. Psalm 119.148 loosely paraphrased says: “I’m awake. What should I do? Meditate on God’s Word.” Or another rendering, “Why am I awake? So I can meditate on God’s Word.”

Psalm 119.147 and 148 basically have the day covered. Day and night. Every second, minute, and hour is all about living in our Personal Mission Field with Him, for His glory.

“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You
in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”
“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings
I will rejoice” (Ps. 63.1, 6, 7).

Paul referenced day and night and time in his writing. His words guide us in how to walk in our Personal Mission Field during the time that we have been given. His theme is love for God and neighbor.
“Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep;
for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
The night is far spent, the day is at hand.
Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness,
not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 13.10-14).

The catechism sums up our reason for being, our proper use of time, and what this life is all about:
What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
During all the watches of the day and night.

For reflection
1. How might you use Psalm 119 to help prepare you for reading and meditating in God’s Word?

2. Do you think having set times to pray throughout the day would help your walk with the Lord? Explain.

3. How will you improve your time in prayer and meditation, beginning today?

the night is an unseasonable time for discoursing upon the law of God; but at that season, when alone, he silently recalled to his memory what he had previously learned, so that he passed no part of the night without meditating upon the law. John Calvin (1506-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.148

Pray Psalm 119.145, 146.
Pray that God will prompt you and call you to prayer many times during the day. Be ready with words of praise and thanks and intercession for others.

Sing Psalm 119.145, 146.
(Festal Song: Rise Up, O Men of God)
With my whole heart I cry; hear me, O Lord, I pray.
Your statutes I will not deny but keep them every day.

I cry to You, O Lord; save me, O Lord, I pray!
Your testimonies and Your Word I keep and will obey.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.

The winds of false doctrine are exceedingly strong in our day. If we don’t recognize them, we may become swept up in them and blown off course in our walk with Lord. Our ReVision study on “Winds of Doctrine” can help you keep the sails of your soul in the wind of God’s Spirit. You can download all the studies in this series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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