Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.NIV
Watchful and thankful
The translation in the New Revised Standard Version talks about “keeping alert” which too easily suggests the problem is that we might nod off to sleep – which, in turn, suggests that prayer is a task to perform rather than a living and breathing relationship seeking for God’s work and will to be done in us and the world.
I think what our author has in mind is living and praying with our eyes open to the work of God in us and in the world. And if our eyes are open to the grace of God that is happening in and around us, then we will also be thankful.
It is too easy to forget to watch. And when our eyes are not open, we miss the opportunities not only to witness God’s grace, but to share in it. We miss the chance to rejoice with those who rejoice and we are not available to weep with those who weep. We miss the opportunity to do grace, to show compassion, to being healing. We miss the chance “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
If the women were not watching, they would not have seen the empty tomb or the risen Christ in their midst. And if we are not watchful and thankful, we miss the true joy and wonder and power of prayer.