Watch and Pray

SDA JournalDevotional


Scripture: Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, 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.” Matthew 26:40-41 (NKJV)

Observation: The night Jesus was arrested was to be memorable in more than one way.  Jesus and His disciples had gathered in the upper room to celebrate the Passover, but rather than a “routine” celebration, it had turned into one of the most powerful teaching moments for them.  Jesus, their Lord and Master, had bent down to wash His disciples’ feet thus teaching them what true servant-leadership is all about.
     Following the meal, Jesus and His disciples made their way up the Mount of Olives to the garden of Gethsemane.  Ellen White describes in beautiful language this scene:  In company with His disciples, the Saviour slowly made His way to the garden of Gethsemane. The Passover moon, broad and full, shone from a cloudless sky. The city of pilgrims’ tents was hushed into silence.
     Jesus had been earnestly conversing with His disciples and instructing them; but as He neared Gethsemane, He became strangely silent. He had often visited this spot for meditation and prayer; but never with a heart so full of sorrow as upon this night of His last agony. Throughout His life on earth He had walked in the light of God’s presence. When in conflict with men who were inspired by the very spirit of Satan, He could say, “He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” John 8:29. But now He seemed to be shut out from the light of God’s sustaining presence. Now He was numbered with the transgressors. The guilt of fallen humanity He must bear. Upon Him who knew no sin must be laid the iniquity of us all. So dreadful does sin appear to Him, so great is the weight of guilt which He must bear, that He is tempted to fear it will shut Him out forever from His Father’s love. Feeling how terrible is the wrath of God against transgression, He exclaims, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”
     As they approached the garden, the disciples had marked the change that came over their Master. Never before had they seen Him so utterly sad and silent. As He proceeded, this strange sadness deepened; yet they dared not question Him as to the cause. His form swayed as if He were about to fall. Upon reaching the garden, the disciples looked anxiously for His usual place of retirement, that their Master might rest. Every step that He now took was with labored effort. He groaned aloud, as if suffering under the pressure of a terrible burden. Twice His companions supported Him, or He would have fallen to the earth.  {The Desire of Ages, p. 685} 
     Knowing what the disciples would be facing, Jesus went away to pray for them and also encouraged them to spent time in prayer for themselves.  While struggling with what was about to happen to Him, Jesus returned to find His disciples sleeping, which is what we read in today’s texts.

Application: I wonder some times what our life and attitude in our marriage would be like if we knew of the challenges and difficulties we would face in the future.  As we look back, we can look at those times when things were difficult, when we had conflict that seemed insurmountable, when our children were sick, when we lost a job, or a house, or had a car accident, or had to move, but as we look back we know we survived those times of crisis and are still together.  Would we have felt that confident and strong if we had been shown all those things ahead of time?  Maybe it is God in His mercy who hasn’t given to us the ability to see our future so we would not be discouraged.
     Jesus knew how important it was to His disciples to spend time in prayer because the events they were about to witness would try their faith and could lead them to give it up, as well as end their life (as it did in Judas’s case).  In marriage, God knows everything we will be facing (which we gratefully do not know), and knows how important then it is to us to spend time together, as husbands and wives, in prayer.  That’s probably one of the reasons God’s enemy wants to keep us so busy (with school, work and other obligations) and distracted (with TV, computer, sports, etc.) that we don’t find time to pray together. 
     Social scientists tell us that it only takes about 21 days to establish a new habit.  If you are not spending time praying together as husband and wife, it may seem challenging at first, but once you establish that pattern it will become part of your daily routine.  Whether it is first thing in the morning, or the last thing at night, or if you pray together during the day or  over the phone, make time each day to pray for each other, for your marriage, for your family, for your children, for your future together, for help during the challenges that may come in the future, and for the future successes and joys.  Of course, if you have children it is important for you and for them that you also spend time praying together as a family.  That daily habit will help your children incorporate prayer as a part of their daily life and routine.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, thank You that we can spend this time in conversation together as a couple and as a family with You knowing that You are pleased to hear from us and to talk to us.  Help us, Father, to maintain this time as sacred as we do other obligations in our life.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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