Believers must be watchful, ever alert to spiritual danger. From Jesus’ “watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” to Peter’s “be sober, be watchful; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” the New Testament sounds an alarm calling God’s people to spiritual watchfulness (Matthew 26:41, 1 Peter 5:8).
Given the ample scriptural admonitions to spiritual watchfulness, the number of Puritan sermons and treatises devoted to the discipline of watching is unsurprising. What surprises is the contemporary lack of interest in an area of vital concern to every believer.
Therefore, I’m grateful for Brian Hedges’ Watchfulness: Recovering a Lost Spiritual Discipline. He argues that “watchfulness is as necessary to a healthy spiritual life as meditation and prayer.” He organizes his book around five critical questions:
- What is watchfulness?
- Why is watchfulness necessary?
- How is watchfulness cultivated?
- When is watchfulness imperative?
- Who is obligated to watchfulness in the church?
In Christian history, Puritan pastors stand out as grand masters in the art of pastoral care. Hedges makes their work accessible for 21st century readers. His grasp of Puritan literature, along with his faithful bible exposition and willingness to share his own struggles to be watchful, make this a valuable resource for Christians who desire to watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, and be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13).