Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.Simon,he said to Peter,are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.Mark 14:37-38
The enemy has little struggle with Peter. It is not even necessary to threaten to throw him to the lions or burn him at the stake. His resolve collapses by the simple expedient of making him too sleepy to pray. That is all; and that tremendous determination of will, that firm resolve, dissolves, and Peter is as weak as putty when the moment comes. He is weak because he lacks the strengthening of prayer. The devil only had to make him sleepy, that is all. I am sure this was a satanic attack. The sword Jehovah was wielding, which hurt and distressed the Son of God, was now affecting the disciples, and Satan was allowed to appear as a stealthy sandman, dropping sleep into their eyes. So they fell asleep instead of praying.
Jesus analyzes the situation. He comes and finds them, and there is almost a touch of humor here. After He wakes them up, He says to these disciples,
Peter, couldn't you watch one hour? Couldn't your resolve and fierce determination last at least that long? Then He tells us why Peter could not do it.
The spirit is willing, Peter. I know your heart. I know you love me. Your spirit is perfectly willing. But Peter, you relied upon your flesh. The flesh is weak.
We have all felt this, have we not? We have been asked to do something, and we say,
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is ready for the weekend. The flesh is weak. Jesus says that is the nature of the flesh. That human sense of independence, the confidence we have in ourselves, is always weak in the hour of testing. It cannot stand the test. This is the analysis Jesus gives of Peter's problem. The key is prayer. If Peter, feeling sleepy and weak, had followed Jesus' example and cast himself upon the Father and told Him the problem, the father would have carried him through, and he would not have denied his Lord.
It is our weakness that is our security, not our strength. That is why I am not terribly impressed when young people tell me how much they are going to do for God and how certain they are that they can carry it through. I have learned, out of sad experience in my own life as well as by the testimony of Scripture, that in the hour of testing, this self-confidence will all wash away. But I have confidence in the man or woman who says,
I'm scared. I don't think I can do this, but I'm going to try because God tells me to. I'm looking to Him to strengthen me.
Father, open my eyes and heart to understand that apart from You I can do nothing. You are the shepherd upon whom I can rely, to whom I can go in the hour of anguish and find the strength to do what You are calling me to do.
Do we presume to obediently follow Jesus in our own human pseudo-energy and inadequate resources? Why is prayer an urgent necessity for this faith journey?