Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pray Hard

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
Luke 22: 45-46

It's funny how you can read a passage of scripture repeatedly throughout your life, and then one day it will just jump out at you. That happened with this passage. And I wasn't even reading the passage. I was actually listening to Luke on my iPod.

The first thing that hit me was that the disciples were exhausted from sorrow. They were grieving because Jesus was grieving, and that wore them out. If you remember, this was in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed so intensely that his "sweat fell like drops of blood." Apparently, the disciples weren't up to this. They fell asleep.

But Jesus was up to it. That tells me what a mighty man Jesus was. The disciples were a rough lot. Most of them were zealots, most of them men who made their living with their hands and their strength. But Jesus prayed intensely while they fell asleep.

But the thing that hit me hardest was what Jesus said to them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation." How many times have I read that and missed it? None of us wants to fall into temptation. We all want to have the strength to resist. So, what's the secret?


That's it. Just pray. I'm assuming that Jesus wouldn't have told the disciples to do it unless it was effective against temptation. Pretty safe assumption, wouldn't you agree? There we have it in Jesus' own words. Pray so you will not fall into temptation. Considering what Jesus is going through here, I suspect he's not talking about a quick "Help me, God. Amen." He's talking about struggling in prayer, wrestling in prayer. Praying against resistance.

Praying hard.

Generally, we fall into sin because we are weak, or because we are willful. We've all seen both sides of that coin.

But maybe, just maybe we didn't pray enough, or hard enough.

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