“Sweet Hour of Prayer”
Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41
This is a hard one. I’m not sure, but I think I probably would have done the same thing as the disciples did here. They just came off the last supper, they listened to Jesus teach about communion. Now they are in a place where they have previously spent many nights sleeping. The logical thing seems like its time to sleep. But Jesus asked them to do something different this night. He took Peter, James and John deeper into the garden and confided in them that He was extremely stressed, so badly that He wished He were dead. He asked them to stay at that point and keep watch while He went on to pray. I’m sure they didn’t know what they were watching for, but Jesus knew that Judas was coming with the guards. That is why He was so anxious. It was the beginning of the end of His time here.
Well, Peter James and John didn’t do so good with this assignment. They fell asleep. I’m sure they heard Jesus say that He was struggling, and it was probably obvious by the way He was behaving. They may have even started praying when Jesus went to be by Himself, but they didn’t last long.
This is where I can relate to what was happening. I sometimes I struggle now to pray more than just a few minutes at a time. Especially under pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I like to talk to God every chance I get, but when it comes time to press in and shut the rest of the world out, it doesn’t always last so long. There used to be an old song that was popular called “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” I tried it before, and it is true. In fact, I made it a discipline at one point to pray in the spirit one hour each day. What a blessing it was, and it was clear to me why the song was written. About 45 minutes in, every time, there would seem to be a breakthrough and all of a sudden, things were known, peace was received, and answers and direction were apparent. I can’t explain it, but it was there every time. The only problem was getting there. I knew the place to be, I just couldn’t always keep myself pressing in for that long.
I believe this is why Jesus asked the disciples “Couldn’t you stay with me in prayer for one hour?” Then He went on to tell them the reason that “sweet” hour of prayer is so important. It is because the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Staying in prayer for that length of time pushes through the weakness of the flesh and brings the strength of the spirit to the front of your life. What a blessing!
Now instead of seeing this as a discipline, I see it as a privilege. It is a privilege to be in the presents of my heavenly Father for long lengths of time. It is an honor to hang out with the trinity and put my flesh in its proper place. It is a great advantage to my life if I can make it to that “sweet hour of prayer.”
Today I want to encourage you to take advantage of the privilege of prayer. Step into the great honor we have as God’s children to spend time with our Father in heaven. Maybe it will start out as a little, but gradually build up that time to linger in His presence. Set a goal to spend an hour with Him at least one day per week and make it a practice to bask in His glory every opportunity you have. It is a game changer for sure. Your life will shift into a whole new dimension. It makes sense if you think about it. When you spend time in the presence of God, His glory is sure to rub off on you!
Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 26:31-46
31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”
37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.
38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.
44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
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