In James 5:16 (NIV), we are told that the “prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” As we pray, we stand watch over our families, cities, and nations. Just as men stood on city walls in the Bible to watch for approaching danger, God calls us to be modern-day watchmen and warn those who are in danger (2 Kings 9:17-18).
We are to watch not only for the enemy’s activity but also for the manifestation of God’s plans. If we watch for the enemy and announce his activity, we can avert the devil’s plans to steal, kill and destroy what God has for us. Jesus said in Matthew 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 important that we pray and seek the mind of the Lord: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Major decisions we are confronted with require us to know God’s individual will for our lives.
With the Holy Spirit’s leading, we can discover God’s will and expose the plans of the enemy through strategic prayer.
The Bible speaks of “watches,” which are specific times of the day or night. There are basically eight watches covering 24 hours. This is because everyone has a prayer watch, even though they may not know it. This is why you may find yourself repeatedly praying at specific times of the day or evening. If you have ever been awakened during the night or are wondering why you are being led to pray at specific times, it is probably because God wants you to pray or intercede for someone. Every prayer watch has a purpose.
First Watch (The Evening Watch from 6:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.)
A Time of Quiet Reflection
Jesus used the Evening Watch to go aside and pray (Matthew 14:15-23). After the business of the day is a time to release anxieties to the Lord before going to sleep. This is a time to meditate on God’s Word. Meditation quiets our emotions, realigns our mind, and frees our will to do the will of God. What we could not hear clearly earlier in the day, we begin to hear during this time. During this watch, ask God to give you clear directions for the next day and about His call on your life.
Jesus also healed many sick people during this time (Mark 1:32; Luke 4:40). This watch is usually for those who have a strong apostolic calling and anointing to break strongholds and walls. This watch is for seasoned Christians who are determined to do mighty things with boldness in the Lord.
Period for covenant renewal with God
Through Jesus Christ, we have a Covenant with God. In this watch, we can appropriate the blessings of God’s Covenant and ask Him to manifest those blessings into our lives.
This is also a time to release judgment on the wicked and decree into the new day God’s blessings upon our life, family, church, city and nation
Whatever happens during the day is determined to a large extent by what is done during the night. The evening is the “foundation” of night and the beginning of the watches. People involved in the occult say that they begin their active witchcraft at midnight. If we begin to pray strategically during this watch with the Holy Spirit’s leading, we can prevent the kingdom of darkness from releasing curses on the new day.
Second Watch (from 9:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M.)
During this watch, intercessors are able to impact the spiritual realm before the enemy gets ready to wreck havoc. Psalm 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, which resulted in His people being 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 from the enemy are set in motion. This is why it is important for intercessors at this watch to pray for God’s protection over their families, cities, and nations: Let God arise and His enemies be scattered” (Psalm 68:1).
This is also the time for divine judgments, deliverance, prayer for the economy, tearing down walls of darkness and all the wicked structures from our economic, educational, religious, and political systems.
Pray aloud Psalm 59 and Psalm 68:1-4. Pray that God will arise and scatter His enemies. Have a session of praise and worship exalting God and commanding all creation to praise Him. Read aloud Psalm 148.
Third Watch (The Breaking of Day Watch from 12:00 A.M. to 3:00 A.M.)
This is a period of much spiritual activity. This watch hour will strengthen your faith. It is the same time that Peter denied Christ three times. (Matthew 26: 34, 74; Mark 144:30; Luke 22:34; John 13:38).
The Witching Hour
This watch is the darkest and most demonic part of the night, especially at midnight. Witches, warlocks, and satanists have fun and start their incantations during this part of the night. The devil operates at this time because this is the time that men are in a deep sleep and there are not as many people praying to oppose him (1 Kings 3:20). This watch calls for seasoned intercessors.
You must not be afraid of witchcraft during this watch. The Lord has given us dominion and authority over all things. This watch is geared for those who already know how to use their spiritual armor and war against the enemy. This is the time to pray against satanic attacks on your life, family members, marriages, churches and communities. We are most vulnerable to the devil’s attacks because at this time we are asleep.Declare Psalm 91:5-6 for Divine protection for yourself, family, church, city and nation.
Time to set your day before it begins
This is a powerful watch to be on when commanding the morning and setting things in place before the devil and his demons have a chance to ruin it. Plane crashes, car crashes, deaths, job loss, and many other acts of the devil can be stopped during this watch when intercessors obey the voice of the Lord and saturate this time with powerful, Spirit-led prayers.
Time for spiritual warfare
This is the time to awake out of sleep and confront every storm of destruction and distraction that is robbing you of God’s blessings and provisions on your life. Also, it is the time to speak peace and calm into every situation of turbulence and confusion.
Time to strengthen yourself spiritually and seek direction
Be vigilant during this time and watch for God’s revelation for breakthrough and for His plans and purposes for your life and territory.
Time to pray for release from every prison
The Apostle Paul and Silas were released from prison during this time (Acts 16:25). In addition, God released the people of Israel from Egypt at this time (Exodus 12:310). According to Judges 16:3-4, Samson escaped from Gaza at midnight by pulling up the gates of the city and carrying them out with him.
Time to make your case in prayer
This is the period to pray for God’s provision to be released (Luke 11:5-13; Acts 16:3). It is also time for miracles and for applying the Blood of Jesus.
Dreams flow during this hour
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. He also 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).
The devil can also attack you in dreams (nightmares), so always pray before you go to sleep and ask God to keep you from the enemy’s devices.
Fourth Watch (The Morning Watch from 3:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M.)
This fourth watch is always important because this is the last watch of the night. This watch is the time that satanic agents who went out to perform their activities are returning to their bases.
Time for deliverance, to rise and shine, for resurrection
This is time for deliverance according to Exodus 12 and 14. This is also the time Jesus walked on the water to release the disciples from the storm (Matthew 14:25-33). This is the time to ask the new day to speak into your life according to God’s will (Psalm 19:2).
Command your morning
Matthew 24:43 says: “But know this, that if the goodman 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.” This is a disciplined prayer watch for those who have the power and training to wake up early in the morning and set the atmosphere. This is the time for all of the enemy’s plans and strategies to fail. This watch is for gaining territory, establishing the spirit of prosperity and stopping the devil from hijacking blessings and favor. This prayer watch sets our day before it begins. This is an opportunity to set things in place before the devil and his demons have a chance to ruin it. Accidents, deaths, thefts, job loss, and any other acts of the devil can be stopped during this watch when intercessors obey the voice of the Lord and fill the morning with powerful prayers.
Time for Declaring God’s Word
This is a time for angelic activity or intervention and a time for blessings from heaven. When we pray, the Lord hears our prayers and sends His angels to work on our behalf. 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).
Fifth Watch (The Early Morning Watch from 6:00 A.M. – 9:00 A.M.)
Time that God strengthens Christians (Acts 2:15; Psalm 2:7-9)
The spiritual significant of sunrise is having Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, rise over us (Malachi 4:2). During this watch, pray for such issues as healing in your body, relationships, family, government, and the economy.
Time to be equipped by the Holy Spirit for service (2 Corinthians 9:30; Ephesians 4:12)
Acts 2:15 says it was the “third hour of the day” (or 9:00 A.M.) when the Holy Spirit descended in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost to equip the 120 disciples for service. Regular work schedules usually begin between the hours of 6:00 A.M. and 9:00 A.M. As you step out, ask the Holy Spirit to equip you for the day.
Sixth Watch (9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.)
Time for a harvest of God’s promises
The watchman guards and watches for the Word of the Lord to be fulfilled. This is the time to expect the manifestation of God’s promises for your life as in the case of David in 2 Samuel 7:25-29.
Pray for provision to do God’s work (Exodus 11:3-4)
This is the time to receive the supply of all resources needed for every God-given project (Exodus 12:35-36). This was the time that the Israelites got everything that they had to use to build the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Pray for the provision to accomplish whatever God wants you to do.
TIme to appropriate the benefits of the Cross (healing, prosperity, forgiveness, strength)
Jesus was crucified at the third hour, or 9:00 A.M. (Mark 15:25, Matthew 27:45). After having been on the Cross for three hours, darkness came upon the face of the earth at 12:00 P.M. and continued until 3:00 P.M., when the period of darkness ended. Did you notice that even God worked according to the watches of the day, especially pertaining to the crucifixion events?
Pray for a crucified life
It is generally accepted that this time period marked both Christ’s sentencing by PIlate and His crucifixion. Because of the crucifixion, let us ask God to help us manifest all of the values of a crucified life, by mortifying the deeds of our flesh as stated in Romans 8:12-15. This is the time to put off the old man and put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:2-11). This is the time to nail witchcraft, bitterness, jealousy, anger, backbiting, gossip, slander, lying, deception, hypocrisy and all the properties and personality traits of the devil and all the works of the flesh to the Cross (Galatians 5:19-21).
Prayer for Forgiveness, Healing of Relationships and the Release of Others
“Forgive us for our trespasses…as we forgive…” This is the best time to pray this portion of the model prayer the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples. 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 in Jerusalem when Peter and John healed the lame man at the Gate Beautiful (Acts 2:1-8).
The Seventh Watch (12:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.)
Midday is an hour of rest and a time to seek the Lord. Historically, Christ was on the Cross atoning for the sins of the world. Redemption and restoration for mankind manifests through God’s Son. Peter received the vision of the clean and the unclean animals which initiated the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s redemptive plan. Also, it was during this watch that Daniel always went home to pray.
This is the time that the promises of God are released, foundations are shaken, and we exercise our God-given dominion.
Time of the Secret Place of the Most High (Psalm 91:1)
It is very important to pray in line with Acts 10:9 and Psalm 91:5,6, 14. This is the time to pray to “dwell in the secret place of the Most High, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty,” and making the Most High your habitation. Pray and cut off all satanic arrows that are released at this time so that they will not get you or your family.
Time of letting your light shine brighter (Provers 4:18)
The midday is the beginning of the sixth hour (12:00 P.M.) This is the time when the sun is at its fullest and brightest. Pray that your life would be bright. This is also the time to pray to not be led into any temptation, trap or snare of the enemy.
Eighth Watch (3:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.)
The Hour of Power and Triumphant Glory, Time to Remove Limitations
This time is an hour of revelation, an hour of grace, an hour of the voice of the Lord, and an hour of triumph. This is the time to die to the world and to self.
Time to Change or Shape History
This was the time God changed history because this watch happens to be the time that Jesus died on the Cross (3:00 P.M.). Jesus went through six hours of suffering for the deliverance of humankind and the world. Pray for deliverance during this watch. When Jesus died, history was changed forever because He became our Blood Covenant with God and triumphed over hell, death and the grave. After His resurrection, Jesus Christ gave us the power to have the same victory as He did. Rejoice that you have turned your back on sin because you have been cleansed by the Blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).
Grace, C.B. “Prayer Watches,” Ezekiel Regiment Prayer Ministry of San Marcos Texas, March 24, 2009. http://ezekielregiment.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/prayer-watches/ (Accessed September 3, 2012).
Stewart, Malachi. “The Eight Prayer Watches,” Prophetic Streams Ministries, July 12, 2011. http://www.propheticstreams.webs.com/apps/blog/entries/show/7685793-the-eight-prayer-watches (Accessed September 3, 2012).
“The 8 Prayer Watches,” National Prayer Watch, No date. http://diasporaxchange.net/nationalprayerwatch/the_8_prayer_watches/ (Accessed September 3, 2012).
To enhance your understanding of prayer watches, UICM has written a book which expands on the prayer watches. The book is available at Amazon.com. Click on the book image to order.