Watch and Pray
In the last days of Jesus’s earthly ministry as He embraced the cross, He made some of the most profound statements in the New Testament. One of those statements was on the subject of prayer, when Jesus instructs His disciples that they are to watch and pray. They were also urged to resist the temptation to yield to their human weakness and instead be diligent and focused in prayer.
In the New Testament book of Matthew 26:36-46, we get a rare and intimate window into the relationship that Jesus has with His Father as He reveals the struggle of fulfilling His mission. Jesus describes His grief by saying, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38) What is interesting about this story is that Peter, James, and John (Mark 14:33) were invited to join Him in His distress as He prayed. After He found a place to pray alone, He came back and found His disciples sleeping. He exhorts them about their inability to stay focused with Him even for one hour. Not that they should pray for Jesus, but that they would pray themselves, since they were about to face their greatest test since they began to follow Him. This exhortation is even more fitting in light of the reality that the work of the Kingdom of God would soon fully be in their hands.
Whether it is something we are facing in our personal lives or in the lives of others, one thing is clear: we need to watch and pray.
When we read this story today, we are faced with the powerful reality that this was not meant for the disciples only; it was written as both instruction and a warning for all of would also follow Jesus. Like the disciples In Matthew’s gospel, we too can be overcome with weariness and fatigue when faced with challenges. The weight of distress and anxiety can weigh us down so deeply that disengaging in prayer and everything else can be very tempting. The story in Matthew teaches us that in moments of difficulty and trial, we need to overcome the temptation of our human weaknesses. Instead of choosing to pull back, we need to decide faith to draw near to God even more diligently so that we do not miss out on what God is about to do.
Whether it is something we are facing in our personal lives or the lives of others, one thing is clear: we need to watch and pray. We also need to realize that it is tempting to enter into a slumber of disconnect in this time of struggle in our nation and our world. With the abundance of entertainment and media, we can drift away into a deeply unspiritual place where prayer is foreign and uninteresting. However, in times like these, we need to remember what Jesus asked His disciples; “Could you not keep watch with Me for one hour?” In other words, could you not set aside your own preoccupations and desires to focus on what really matters? Even for one hour? By breaking the call to prayer down to something as simple as being able to pray for one hour, instead of something as daunting as several hours or days, Jesus’s exhortation becomes even more reasonable and convicting.
It is the power of these words that drive many Christians worldwide to have a focused prayer life. The call to “pray for one hour” has been taught extensively in church history and is still valid today. As a local church, we believe at Bread of Life that we should resist the temptation of weariness and distraction when it comes to prayer. The willingness of our spirit and commitment to God needs to be stronger than the weakness of our flesh. For this reason, every Monday evening, we have prayer school. We believe that God’s power through prayer can change our lives, families, friends, and even the world if we would be willing to pray. We invite you to find one hour in your schedule to join us!