Translated by Allan Liang
Thanks be to God, let us consider today’s Scripture. Some people say: Today there are many sleeping Christians - Christians who sleep during devotions, who sleep during sermons, who sleep during prayers, whose lives are hardly alert; the apostle Peter stumbled because his prayers were few. This is a very real warning, and of course, not all churches are like this. Truly, the Lord is near, in the blink of an eye, he will be here, will we still be “sleeping and resting”? In this time of pandemic, how much time do we spend everyday drawing near to the Lord in prayer? Those who sleep will certainly stumble and those who pray little will surely receive no power; there are many temptations in the end times, without prayer, we will surely fall. Consequently, the Lord gave the following admonishment: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Without alertness, there will be no sincere prayers, and without prayer, we will be distanced from the Lord, becoming lonely and helpless, unable to receive the strength from above. This way, we will fall into temptations, and more dangerously, we will be unaware, and we will be unable to resist. Hence, no matter how many sermons we’ve listened to, how great our willpower is, if we do not constantly keep alert and pray, we will not be able to triumph over Satan’s wiles.
We may have all experienced a tension between our desires and our wills. In today’s Scripture, the “darkest night”, here the plot to betray the Son of Man into the hands of sinners was complete, and here Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Facing the darkness of the cross, Jesus asked his three disciples, Peter, James and John to keep watch with him. But in a very short span of time, he found all three of them sleeping, twice! His closest disciples who vowed to go wherever he went even to death, acted in such a way that was close to betrayal. Yet the Lord Jesus only said: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
His words contained no rebukes, but was full of gentle compassion, and in saying, “the spirit is willing”, even showed understanding and comfort. The grace and mercy of the Lord truly surpasses what we can understand. Indeed, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15); he knows our bodies are weak, and he knows our spirits are willing.
How are we to resist temptation when it comes? The Lord Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” When Jesus prayed, he knew that obeying the Father’s will would require paying a cost, and understood that he would soon experience the pain of being forsaken by God. He clearly understood this frightening experience, yet he prayed, “not what I will, but what you will.” This is the most profound prayer the Lord left with us. Brothers and sisters, it is hard to not follow our own will, but it is even harder to only follow God’s will. In the face of great pressures, we will become fraile, and even if our spirits are willing to submit to God, temptations may easily triumph over us. The Lord Jesus set an example for us, and taught us how to resist temptations: 1. Pray and present our petitions to God (Mark 14:35); 2. Ask our coworkers, brothers and sisters and friends in Christ to support and pray for us (14:33, 14:37, 14:40-41); 3. Focus on the will of God for us, the key is not what I will, but what the Father wills (14:36).
Although the Lord Jesus’ willingness to lay down his life was out of love for humanity and submission to God, the truth of his submission unto death clearly tells us that saints, as the servants of God, should in whatever they do, “do it for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31b).
Please meditate and pray after carefully reading the Scripture verses: How can we learn and imitate in our prayers, the example set by the Lord Jesus: his humility and submission to the Father, his alertness and steadfast praying, only asking for God’s will to be done?