TEXT: Matthew 26:36-44
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 150 messages in this series.
This is message #151 titled, Prayer Principles for the Painful Path Ahead (Part 4)
As we have been studying this passage of Scripture, we have seen the humility, the bravery, the submissiveness, and the fortitude of Jesus Christ. I am sure that all of us would say that, when it comes to the matter of prayer and doing God’s will, we want to be like Him. However, in this message, we are going to shift gears and look at the disciples; because I am afraid that most of us more often end up like the disciples in this passage rather than our Lord.
Our passage tells us that Jesus Christ is agonizing in prayer. Three distinct times, we are told that Jesus separates himself and goes to pray. In fact, you can think of it as a boxing match with three rounds. Jesus goes and, through prayer, does battle against His own will, against the temptation of the devil, and against the weakness of His human body. After each of these rounds, Jesus comes back to His “corner” (that is, where He left His disciples), and instead of finding them supporting Him, praying with Him, and cheering Him on, He finds them sleeping. The text says, “And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
How many times have you sat down or knelt down to pray and soon felt sleepy, lethargic, tired, and weary? The body — that is, our flesh — does not like such discipline. It rebels against rigors of any type, but especially spiritual rigors. Now, our spirit wants to pray; the Holy Spirit spurs us on to prayer. But, often, we let our flesh overrule our spirit and we end up cutting our prayer time short, rushing through our prayer time, or not praying at all. That is what happened to the disciples.
John Calvin sheds some light on the slumbering disciples’ condition. He says, “This drowsiness arose neither from excessive eating and drinking, nor from gross stupidity, but rather—as Luke tells us—from immoderate sorrow. Hence we perceive more clearly how strong is the tendency of our flesh to indifference; since even dangers lead us to forgetfulness of God. Thus on every hand Satan finds suitable and ready opportunities of spreading his snares for us. For if we dread no danger, he intoxicates and drowns us in sleep; and if we experience fear and sorrow, which ought to arouse us to pray, he overwhelms our senses, so that they do not rise to God; and thus, in every respect, men fall away and forsake God, till he restores them.”
The devil preys on the weaknesses of our flesh in order to influence us to abandon the things of the spirit. That is what was happening with the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, He admonished them, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus’ words are important and relevant for us today.
“Watch” comes from a Greek word meaning to give strict attention to, to be cautious, or to be active. The lexicon states that it means “to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.” Jesus knew what was about to take place. The Old Testament prophets described it as the Shepherd [Jesus] being struck and the sheep [the disciples] being scattered. Jesus was trying to tell the disciples that they needed to be prepared. Perhaps, if Peter had been watching and praying, he would not have denied his Lord. Perhaps, if the disciples had been watching and praying, they would not have fled when Jesus was arrested. Perhaps, if they had been watching and praying, the disciples would have realized that Jesus was serious when He said he would rise from the dead in three days. Perhaps, if they had been watching and praying, the disciples would not have been in such a state of disarray when Resurrection Sunday rolled around.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are trials, troubles, and tribulation in your future. You will face difficulties and tests on the road ahead. Don’t let those times slip up on you. Don’t let the devil lull you into a false sense of security. Don’t let the weakness of your flesh cause you to let down your spiritual guard. Be vigilant. Be watchful. And be prayerful.
We must not only be watchful because of events that might occur in our lives, but we must be watchful because of people who might appear in our lives. We should not listen to and believe everything that someone tells us. If the devil cannot trip us up physically, he will try to trip us up spiritually and mentally. He will have us thinking and believing things that are contrary to God’s will. This is why we must pray for wisdom and discernment in dealing with people. Abraham Lincoln said that he was often driven to his knees because “my own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
The devil is out to deceive and destroy God’s people. He knows our weaknesses, and he will try to strike us when and where we least expect it. That is why Peter wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
Because the disciples were not vigilant in their behavior, because they were not watching and praying, they succumbed to the weaknesses of their human flesh when they were hit with Judas’ betrayal, and Jesus’ arrest, trial, beating, and crucifixion. Fearing for their own lives, they fled and scattered. Peter denied that he even knew Christ. Things were so bad among the disciples that they did not even believe Jesus had risen from the dead when the women told them although Jesus Himself told them that He would rise from the dead and meet them in Galilee. Their lack of watchfulness and prayer left an opening for the devil to get in and wreak havoc among them.
In closing, let us watch and pray lest we falter in our time of trial. Let us watch and pray lest we succumb in our time of temptation. Let us watch and pray lest we give in to the weakness of our sinful flesh. Let us watch and pray lest we deny Christ in our time of persecution. Let us watch and pray! Watch and pray! Watch and pray!
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.