Scripture: Matthew 26:36-46
Key verses: Matthew 26:40-41“So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Reflection: Today’s passage is set in the Garden of Gethsemane the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested. Jesus and the disciples have finished the Passover meal (which instituted the Lord’s Supper) and then they retreated to a nearby garden. Jesus tells them to sit and he goes to another place in the garden to pray. We aren’t certain if the disciples prayed but we do know they fell asleep. If they are like the rest of us, they began to pray and fell asleep. (How many times has that happened to you in the evening after a big meal!) Three times Jesus came back to check on them and they weren’t praying but sleeping. What’s wrong with them? I think they didn’t realize the gravity of the situation. Jesus acknowledges their willingness and also their weakness.
We, too, struggle to “stay awake”. We fall asleep, literally and metaphorically, because we are distracted by many other things. Jesus wanted them to pray with him. He wants us to pray with him. He warns them and us to stay awake.
If we want to cultivate a relationship with Jesus we may have to make some changes. Maybe we need to eat less and rest more. Maybe we need to pay attention to how God is working in us and in the world. Maybe we need to acknowledge that our flesh is weak so we should take better care of ourselves. When we acknowledge our weaknesses we have the opportunity to “watch and pray”. The story of the Garden of Gethsemane is a friendly reminder for all of us from Jesus.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for giving us the impulse to draw closer to you in prayer. We confess our physical weakness. Help us to give the best part of our day to you so that we might stay awake. Remind us to pay attention to what is going on around us and how you are working in our lives and the lives of others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].