Watch And Pray
A daily devotion for January 26th
26When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
27"You will all fall away," Jesus told them, "for it is written:
" 'I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.' 28But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
29Peter declared, "Even if all fall away, I will not."
30"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times."
31But Peter insisted emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the others said the same.
32They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
35Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
37Then 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? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
39Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41Returning the third time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"
43Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
44Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard." 45Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Rabbi!" and kissed him. 46The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
48"Am I leading a rebellion," said Jesus, "that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled." 50Then everyone deserted him and fled.
51A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
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.
Life Application: 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?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.