How to Watch and Pray in the End Times

On the night he was betrayed, Jesus instructed his disciples to “watch.” This passage teaches us how to watch and pray in the end times.

On the Night He Was Betrayed

In our last article (READ HERE), we went into great detail on what the command “watch” means in Jesus’s great end time teaching, the Olivet Discourse.

In this article, we will examine the parallels between Jesus’s instructions to his disciples on the night he was betrayed and watching in the end times. It is a great demonstration of how to watch. In Matthew’s Gospel we read:

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” (Matt. 26:36)

Gethsemane is a word that means “Olive Press.” And certainly, both Jesus and the disciples were about to enter a “pressing” time of trial. Jesus was aware of what was to come upon him, but the disciples, however, were clueless. In many ways, this is just like us. Jesus sees the challenges and what we will need to overcome them, but we don’t always see it coming.

Night of the Vigil

Now what is interesting is the night of Nissan 15 (after the lamb sacrifice of Nissan 14) is a night of watching or vigil for all Israel as described in Exodus:

It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. (Exo. 12:42)

Yet this night of Jesus’s betrayal was, by all accounts, the evening of Nissan 14 right after sundown. However, and this is key, the disciples had just eaten the Passover meal with Jesus. So in that way, I would assume this was the required night of vigil for them. This makes the disciples inability to watch with Jesus, even more egregious . A fine article on the net explains this vigil . In this article we see that the Hebraic concept of this night is a vigil kept by YHWH and Israel, which of course is what was happening in the Garden that night. Jesus was with his people, both should have been watching.

This article also discusses how the Greek word for vigil translated in the Septuagint carries the additional meaning of preparation. So this was to be a night of preparation for the disciples; preparation that they failed to heed and take advantage of. When the testing came, all the disciples fled, and later Peter committed apostasy.

If we consider the events of that night as similar to events in the end times, they are a model of how we are not to fall into apostasy when that future time of trial comes.

A Future Vigil?

Is it possible that the timing of the vigil, the night of Passover, might be significant in the future as well? It absolutely might be. Readers of my book Revelation Deciphered (BUY IT HERE) are aware that it is my guess that the 1260 days of the Antichrist’s reign might end on Yom Kippur. Back dating these 1260 days would land on or about Passover 3 ½ years prior. The event that begins the countdown will likely be the Abomination of Desolation when the man of sin sits in the Temple of God.

Could this be the same event being “foretold” by analogy in the account of the night our Master was betrayed? On that day in the First Century, it was Judas who was revealed as the betrayer. Both Judas (John 17:12) and the coming Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:4) are called the “son of destruction” or the “son of perdition” in Scripture. So Judas is definitely a “foreshadow” of the coming Antichrist. IMO, this makes the night of the vigil and Jesus’s instructions to watch a perfect match with the coming Abomination of Desolation and the Great Tribulation that immediately follows it.

If this is correct, Jews and Christians should be “Watching and Praying” during the “night” of the first three and a half years of the 70th Week of Daniel. IMO, Christians should also consider keeping the vigil on Passover evening between now and that fateful day. Although we are not obligated to “watch” as we’ve been freed from the Law and regulations of Israel, I believe it is an awesome opportunity for churches and small groups to get together and “watch and pray” as part of their ongoing preparation for the tribulation to come. If we do this, it will be a wonderful reminder to us of how to watch.

Three Wake-ups

Interestingly Jesus gave his disciples three chances to “wake up” during that night:

And he (Jesus) came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. (Mark 14:37-41)

In the end times, Christians will also have 3 opportunities to “wake up” before the revealing of Antichrist at the midpoint of the 70th Week of Daniel. What are these three wake-up calls? Why, the first three seals, of course: Deception by False Messiahs, War and Chaos, and Famine. This further analogy between the night of Jesus’s betrayal and the coming end times just re-enforces to me that we should assume that evening in the first century WAS a metaphor for us to use in terms of our preparation for the future Great Tribulation.


Jesus’s specific instruction to the disciples was that they “watch and pray.”

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)

And this is his instruction to us as well. We will spend the rest of this article examining what this command means. But before we begin that, I want to bring to your attention the Greek word peirasmos which is translated “temptation” in Mark 14:38 above. In our previous article about the Pope and his recent rewriting of the Lord’s Prayer, we discussed this word. In an eschatological setting, it refers to the time of trial, the Wrath of God that is poured out after the sixth seal. So if this passage is an extended metaphor about preparing for end times, we are to “watch and pray” so that we don’t enter the Wrath of God! This would mean not denying Jesus and not taking the Mark of the Beast.

Now obviously, temptation can also mean just that, temptation to sin, and denying Jesus and taking the Mark are obviously sins as well! However, in an end time setting, there is little doubt that every one will likely face the “temptation” to take the Mark. It is succumbing to the Mark and thereby being left behind by the Rapture and entering the Wrath of God that Jesus is warning us about.

How to Watch and Pray

Now we are finally ready to begin to examine this important question. “How” do we watch? If we closely examine the account in Mark, it is pretty obvious that Jesus wanted them to watch in a spiritual way and a physical way. In our previous article we saw most Christians consider the command to watch to be only spiritual:

It is spiritual watching coupled with prayer that gives one the strength to survive temptations and difficult situations.

But if the disciples were physically observant on that night, they would have seen Judas and the temple guards ascending the Mount of Olives with their torches. They would have had time to consider the trial that was about to come upon them and Jesus. They would have had time to pray for the strength to stand with Jesus rather than run. Peter would have had the time to pray about whether using a weapon was a good idea (it wasn’t). In all these ways they would have been able to prepare. They would have been “ready” (“You also be ready.” [Matt. 24:44])

In the same way, during the 70th Week of Daniel, believers will have the chance to observe the first three seals and the rise of the Antichrist. They will have time to prepare themselves for the trial of the Great Tribulation that will be about to come upon the world.

Jesus is clear that we will not overcome the Great Tribulation in the flesh. It is too weak. Our spirits, however, are WILLING to endure whatever comes and obey Jesus. But we need help. That is why we are to watch AND pray. Only the Holy Spirit can empower a believer to overcome the trial ahead.

So this year, consider observing the Passover Vigil with me. Consider staying up to “watch and pray.” Contemplate what will come upon you, your family, and the world, and how you might prepare for persecution, starvation, and martyrdom. A believer who understands that the will of the Father may include these things and seeks the assistance of the Spirit will overcome. Those who don’t “watch” and are taken by complete surprise by the Great Tribulation may not.

Watch and pray.

7 thoughts on “How to Watch and Pray in the End Times”

  1. Hi Nelson, thank you for this article. As you see the meaning of the commandment to watch as mentioned in Exodus, a part of the Torah, I would like to mention that Christians are not freed from the Law as you wrote but from the curse of the Law. The Law stays as it is, as Yeshua (Jesus) mentioned it in Matt 5 : 18. ” For verily I say unto you, Until the heaven and the earth pass away, one iota or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all come to pass” but the curse or the punition that we should get because of our trespasses has now been thrown away thanks to the blood of the Lam.

    This is crucial in the end time as the ennemy teaches today (and even more in the end times) not to respect the Law, to disobey it, as he is the prince of lawlessness.
    We see this trend in all the world, also in many churches where all unethic teachings are given (homosexuality for instance) and where there is less and less attention for sins.
    To follow the Law and to obey God (even if we fall) is the measure of our love for God as we read in 1 John 5 : “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments”.

    And to teach this is not true will give us a poor status in the Kingdom of God as we read in Matt 5 : 19 : “Whosoever then shall do away with one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whosoever shall practise and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens”, so let’s watch but also be obedient to the Law of God with our heart, as the law is not in our heart.
    That does not mean become like a Pharisee but to do our best to stay holy and blameless (Eph 5:27). The ennemy will mislead many and convince them to forget the Law. Let us be vigilant on this point !
    God bless you.

    1. This is a complicated issue Dani-EL and really not the point of this blog post which is about watching. Many or most Christians believe we have been freed from the ceremonial law completely, but most would also agree that we should keep the moral law. Here is my take on this famous verse, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15). The only way to keep the commandments is to love Jesus because those that love him are empowered by the Spirit to keep the law. Without the Spirit, it is impossible. But I don’t want the comments in this section to devolve into a discussion of the law. Thanks.

      1. Hello Nelson, Thank you for your reply. I do not agree with your statement that it has nothing to do with the article. If you want to watch correctly you need to be disciplined. How can you be disciplined ? By following the rules of the Father. Can a child watch the arrival of his parents at school if he is fighting with another child. No. It is the same in our faith. Watching correctly is deeply linked with our obedience and discipline. The purer we are, the easier it will be to see the Light coming. Of course we can only do this with the Spirit as you mention, and yes, when we fall, we still have a loving Father. But Jesus does not tell us to be a pure Bride for nothing. The ones without the correct clothes of the covenant, the ones refusing the rules/laws of the Father, the “workers of lawlessness” (Mat 7:23) will not enter the Kingdom of God.
        In a war or tribulation, soldiers need rules and discipline to fight correctly. It is the same for us. So important !

        1. Dani-EL, Obviously being pure is important, however, it is not the primary meaning of “watch” in a eschatological sense. Your position is the same as a lot of the church, but misses the critical point that there are physical signs to see and observe, the main point of the series.

  2. Hi Nelson, good article.
    Just a brief added thought. I’m always reminded of Luke 22v45 when this topic comes up about the disciples sleeping . It says:
    “They were sleeping for sorrow”. They’d heard him detail his death, now they saw his agony. I’ve found it true that sorrow indeed makes you tired and wears you down.

    Just a wondered if this could be one of the reasons that Isaiah
    states that the Lord wondered that there was no intercessors during this time, Isa 59v16. I Know that Isa 63 uses the term “Non to uphold”.

    Just my thought

    1. Very interesting observation Linda. First, yes, We know that in the discussion after the Last Supper, Jesus told them they would have grief multiple times, and Luke’s account in the garden is the proof. That is a good catch and a nice addition to this article.

      In terms of Isa. 59 and 63, the timing of these passages is important. Notice in Isa. 63:1-5, Jesus is on the earth pouring out his Wrath on Edom. It is this point where he stains his garments. This event is AFTER the Rapture and yet before he returns to fight Armageddon (because we know his garments are stained BEFORE he descends at Armageddon.) This time that Jesus spends on Earth after the Rapture but before Armageddon is the topic of a new book I’m writing and researching right now. However, the point is that in Isa. 63:5, believers are already removed from the earth. This comment about none to help or uphold is in reference to the Jewish remnant still upon the earth. It is that remnant who are not interceding or upholding.

      1. Ok thanks for that, still working through some things.
        No doubt though, there will be plenty of sorrow through the tribulation.

        Thank you

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