Instant in Prayer

Michael Beck

“And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:37,38)

It had been a whirlwind week. The disciples were worn out. When Jesus took His three closest to Gethsemane it was more for their sake than His. He needed to pray, but so did they. “And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow” (Lk. 22:45).

When the mind is fried, sleep is a getaway. We hope to wake up refreshed and ready to get at it again. But Jesus knew that His disciples were going to wake up to the trial of their life, and more than anything else, they needed to be in prayer. “And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” (Lk. 22:46)

There is wisdom in a literal Sabbath rest, where we recharge ourselves, body and soul. But that day points to a greater rest we need – one where we are refreshed in our communion with God. While His disciples slept, Jesus met with the Father in the garden, and went forth ready to stand in the challenges before Him.

Oh the tender pity of our Lord! He knew what His beloved needed, and challenged them toward it; but He also knew where they were. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13,14)

There are times when we are simply spent – physically, emotionally, mentally. We don’t feel like praying, we feel like sleeping, or just engaging in some mind-numbing activity. But that is not what we really need. Watchmen can’t afford to be asleep on their post. They may wake up with the enemy at the gates. God does give His beloved sleep; but when He calls us to be alert and looking toward Him, we dare not doze off. “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” (Ps. 27:8)

Can we hear the Lord’s imploring voice: “Can you give Me one hour?” “Can you spend this day with Me?” “Can you honor Me with the firstfuits of your time?” Martha was not sleeping, but she was distracted by so many things that yelled for her attention. Mary chose the better part – the one thing needful. We need a sit-down with our Lord more than we realize. Such will keep us from burn-out. It will enable us to rise up with renewed strength to face whatever our day might hold.

Let us follow the Lord into the garden, not to sleep, but to watch and pray. Our God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Judas may be fast approaching, but if we have already seen the face of God, we will stand.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.