VERSE: Matthew 26:36-46
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and he began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then he said to them, “ My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with me.” He went a little farther and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Then he came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, he went away and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And he came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So he left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. “Rise, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Just three weeks ago, I was able to travel to Israel and spent some time in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Our guide took us to a quiet place where there were flowers and old olive trees and we were allowed to sit and pray for a while. What a privilege to pray where Jesus prayed! In our devotion verses today, the disciples were asked to pray in this same garden while Jesus was agonizing about God’s plan for him to pay the ultimate price for our sins. But they couldn’t stay awake to pray.
In the verses before these, we know that the disciples had a big meal and some wine. Now it was late and they were tired. Sound familiar? Do you fall asleep at night during your prayers? Jesus knew that Peter was going to reject him three times that night so he warned him that he needed to “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
That is true for us also. We need to be awake, watching out for temptations crossing our path. We need to be alert for spiritual issues in us and our family and friends. And we need to pray. It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” And in Philippians 4:6-7 it says to “pray about everything.” Peter didn’t and he was not able to resist the temptation to deny knowing Jesus. God strengthens us through prayer and points out things we need to watch for.
Take some time today to pray. Start with a little quiet time asking the Lord to bring to mind issues to pray for. Then pray. Open your heart to God and let him know your concerns. Acknowledge his greatness and give your concerns over to him. Ask him to keep you alert and awake to brewing issues in your life. Then accept his peace for all these issues. Then you will truly be able to rest in his goodness.
Dear Lord, I come to you with a heavy heart. I pray that you will hear my concerns and give me wisdom and direction. I know that you have the best in mind for me. Please help me to stay awake and alert spiritually and to come often to you in prayer.