Keeping Watch

Key Texts: Psalm 130:1-6

 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;

    Lord, hear my voice.

Let your ears be attentive

    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,

    Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,

    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,

    and in his word I put my hope.

I wait for the Lord

    more than watchmen wait for the morning,

    more than watchmen wait for the morning.


It’s a powerful prayer, with powerful images.  Those of

  • Crying out from the depths of a raging sea
  • Listening carefully for any hint of hope
  • Falling in supplication, begging for mercy, for sins committed
  • Yearning for forgiveness, waiting with one’s whole being
  • Of watchmen, standing firm in the darkness, sentinels, facing the darkness
  • Eagerly awaiting the light of dawn

Is this how we pray?  Is this earnest supplication, desire, yearning, vigilance what marks our daily prayer?

It’s a high ideal that the Psalmist places before us, challenging us to accept as our own.

Prayer is too often something done in a hurry, or as an afterthought.

How much more powerful it is to think of it as this deep, sincere, almost desperate seeking of God.

The darkness is real – and ominous – but so is morning’s light.

So keep watch, always keep watch.

“I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

May that always be our prayer.


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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