“Work, work work, watch, and pray.” (Deep Think #25)

“Work, work work, watch, and pray.” (Deep Think #25)

Work Work Work watch and pray, deep think by Polly Castor

What does  the quote, “Work, work, work, watch and pray,” mean to me?

Because it was written by Mary Baker Eddy, who was huge on prayer, this quote is often assumed to be all about the rigor of prayer, the reaching, unending, slogging, excruciatingly difficult WORK of it. I take it differently. I don’t think prayer needs to be hard work.

Neither is it lackluster or boring. John Lathrop, who worked for Eddy recounted in the expanded edition of We Knew Mary Maker Eddy, “This work is not humdrum, it is growth. It is repeating and defeating, repeating and defeating, repeating and defeating.” (Volume 1 page 263) In other words, persist, persist, and persist, in thought and action, overcoming and progressing, and culminating in effectiveness.

To “work” means to do. Action is involved. In physics, work is force multiplied by distance. It is inspiration put out there and utilized– made practical and moved forward– not just contemplated or studied.

I rephrased this quote recently as, “Let Your light shine, Let Your light shine, Let your light shine, see its effect with gratitude while looking for opportunities to shine some more, then turning to God and listening, to fill up your metaphorical lamp with more oil, so you can to do it all over again.” Since “letting your light shine,” means your inspiration and understanding is having an effect, I thought this expanded summary was rather apt.

Some folks think the “watch” bit is about is about guarding and defending oneself from evil or error, and keeping out bad thoughts. I think it refers more to the wording in Mark 13:32-37, which is about being prepared for the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus told us the kingdom of heaven is available “within” us and “at hand.” So watching to be prepared and receptive to that kingdom of heaven right now within you, means to me being wholly right with and open to God.  And I think that rightness should be more about focusing on doing the right thing, more then by being alert or closed to all the ways you (or others!) could go wrong. I always say avoid wrong doing by right doing.

Paul also refers to “watch” and “work” in II Timothy, basically exhorting us to “make full proof of [our] ministry.” In other words, it is not about intellectual rigor or good intentions. It is about: are you actually participating in meeting a need? Are you applying what you know for the benefit of someone else?

The point is that you are supposed to be triply focused on actually doing something about whatever it is that you see and discern. The watching and praying here is more about listening and being receptive to receiving, than it is about warding off and avoiding pitfalls, or submitting petitions or affirmations to the divine. The best defense is a good offense. Your proactive doing of what is aligned with divine law is your protection. And if you are doing that, you will be refilled and refreshed with the inspiration, divine connection, impulsion, and occasion to do more.

So be useful. Be an example of listening to God, as well as actively blessing the world. Work for what you know to be true.

How fruitful are your works? Are you actively putting forward triply what you’ve learned by watching and prayer? Or are you one of these folks that watches and prays and doesn’t DO anything? Or are you merely a doer with no Godly stimulus behind it? Both of those types of approaches are sadly unfruitful, like spinning your wheels in a cold snow drift. It is the full combination and proportion here that give you traction to move forward.

You need all five parts in the right ratio to make your calling and election sure.”Wherefore brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”  (II Peter 1:10)

I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Rosalind Forber 1 month ago

    I love, love, love this take on working and watching and praying.

  2. Sue+Krevitt 1 month ago

    Thanks fer the … boost!

    (Needed that.)


  3. Emily Kendrick 1 month ago

    Absolutely glorious and so helpful. Thank you 😊

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