Keep Watching and Praying
Matthew 26:40-41 (NASB)
40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?
41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
After The Last Supper, the final meal Jesus had with His disciples before His crucifixion, Jesus brought three of His disciples – Peter, James and John – to the garden of Gethsemane. It was the usual spot where Jesus prayed. Upon reaching the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus commanded the three disciples to stay there at a place and watch with Him, while He was just a stone’s throw away, to pray alone.
Many a times when I read this Scripture I would only focus on the agony that Jesus went through, asking His Heavenly Father if the cup could be passed from Him. But this week I receive a different revelation, which is to look at the disciples who were commanded by Jesus to keep watch and pray.
In Matthew 26:40, Jesus came back from praying and saw that His disciples were sleeping! I can imagine the disappointment and frustration that Jesus felt. I probably would feel the same like Jesus did too if that happened to me. In such a dire moment, how could the disciples still fall asleep?! However as I continue to reflect upon the words that Jesus said to His disciples, I realize that there were times that I was no different from them. There were times that I would kneel by my bed to pray and to read the Word. But the next moment when I opened my eyes, I realized that I had fallen asleep while praying! During moments like that, I would feel so embarrassed and lousy. I truly experienced what Jesus said in Matthew 26:41, “… the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Do you sometimes experience that too? Perhaps it was those times that you really wanted to pray and seek God, then the flesh took over and reigned. A full day of work, serving, gatherings, or procrastination, or maybe some negative situations might have deterred you from praying.
But today, Jesus is speaking to each one of us to keep watching and praying.
“Keep” means to continue with something. “Watching” and “praying” are in the continuous tense. So it doesn’t mean that after you have prayed and watched on one day of the week, you can just stop there. No, of course not! Instead, we must continue to watch and pray, as Jesus has instructed.
To watch means to be vigilant, alert, awake and be on guard. I believe “watching” isn’t just related to the physical, but also the spiritual. We have the help of the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us to keep on watching. Spending time with God and constantly following the leading of the Holy Spirit will help us to be more and more sensitive to Him. We would also be more spiritually discerning to the situations as well as areas of temptation in our lives.
Jesus also commanded His disciples to keep “praying”. Recently a group of us in church embarked on a discipline to pray for one hour every day. Initially I thought that by the third or fourth day, I would run out of things to pray. But God is amazing! Through this period as I develop this spiritual discipline, God continues to show me ways to pray and things to pray. I now do not just pray with a checklist of prayer items. I would also pray using His Word. I’ll first study about the prayers of the different people from the Bible, like Jesus, Moses, Abraham and Paul, among others. Other times, I would sing the Word from Psalms and there will be a beautiful melody that follows as I sing His Word. This list about the ways to pray is definitely not exhaustive. It’s never enough to solely read about prayer, it’s important to keep praying.
Let us come together to pray.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your Word today. I seek for Your forgiveness for those times that my flesh reigned. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. My strength alone is never enough to overcome the flesh. I pray and receive Your power and strength filling me right now. I commit to keep on watching and praying. Help me God, to be alert and vigilant, so that I will constantly live a life that pleases You. Father, as I pray, mould me to be more and more in tune with You, and change my life to be more and more like Jesus. Thank You, God. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!”