Have you ever fallen asleep during church? Most of us will probably admit that we’ve had moments where we nodded off or our mind drifted to what we were doing later in the day. It’s not that we weren’t interested in the sermon or didn’t like the pastor, we just lost focus on what was being said.
Jesus’ disciples slept too but not during a sermon. They slept while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Overwhelmed with sorrow, Jesus urged the disciples to pray with Him (v. 38). He described this kind of prayer as keeping “watch.” The Greek word means to be alert or awake. It was a metaphor the Bible uses to describe what it means to be on guard.
When Jesus came back and found the disciples sleeping, He was disappointed but not for His own sake. He told them, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (v. 41). As Jesus describes it in these verses, prayer can be a preventive measure against temptation. The best strategy for defeating temptation is not to be tempted in the first place. Apparently, there are some forms of temptation we may avoid simply by praying.
Jesus’ command to watch and pray indicates that prayer is an effective strategy for dealing with temptation. Scripture says when Eve was tempted in the Garden, she focused on what was forbidden. Genesis 3:6 says when she “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Prayer can redirect our attention from our sinful desire to God. Those who pray call upon the Holy Spirit for the strength to resist.
>> Take a few minutes to pray. Ask God to keep you from being distracted or sleepy in prayer and ask Him to protect you from falling into temptation. If there are areas where you feel especially vulnerable, ask for His help.
Today we bring before You our respective temptations—large and small and ask that You strengthen us against them and help us stay alert to avoid them. Your righteousness is sweeter than any sin!