READING: Deuteronomy 25-27, Mark 14:27-53
“Could you not watch one hour?”
Just one hour of alertness and prayer. That’s all Jesus asked from His disciples as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yes, He demanded their lives and their futures, but He asked particularly for a time of focused prayer and concentration this day. The weight of the sin of the world hung over Him, and He wanted their prayer support. Just one hour for now.
But, they couldn’t give it. Not even one hour. The fears and the anguish of their preceding days – when all their dreams for some kind of earthly kingdom seemed to be disappearing – were too much. When they should have been praying and watching as Christ requested, they slept. Their flesh was indeed weak, regardless of how willing their spirit may have been.
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation,” Jesus said to them (Mark 14:38). Their temptations soon would be stronger than ever, and He knew that. They would face temptation to fight for Jesus when that was not His plan. And to run when He was arrested. Or to follow Jesus, but only at a distance. Or to to deny even knowing Him. Or to lose hope when He was crucified. In all these cases, the disciples failed the temptations and succumbed to their present-tense fears. I suppose that should not surprise us, given that they could not remain focused and alert for even one hour when Jesus Himself requested it.
When was the last time you gave Jesus one concentrated hour of focus, prayer, and spiritual alertness? I require my students to spend at least one hour in silence and solitude before Christ, and they sometimes struggle with staying focused. They are so accustomed to brief stints with God that long, intentional quiet times with Him can be daunting. Fears and worries can be distracting. By time the hour is up, they are often just then settling in to focus on God.
When it’s difficult for you to spend even one intentional hour focused on God without being sidetracked or falling asleep, don’t miss that warning signal. Those who struggle to focus on Him can easily get distracted into something much less meaningful. Like sin.
- Schedule at least one hour sometime this week or next when you can spend intentional time with God.
- Confess your anxieties to God. Turn from your sin. Get adequate rest, and stay alert before Him.
PRAYER: “Lord, I sleep too much when I should be praying and watching. Please forgive me, and help me to change.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Deuteronomy 28-29, Mark 14:54-72