Read Matthew 26
Though I am ashamed to admit it, I periodically have the same issue when I attend long prayer meetings. Again, its not that they are boring, I genuinely enjoy praying, but it takes my full concentration at times to stay awake.
In today’s reading we discover that we am not alone in this struggle to stay awake during late night prayer meetings. After celebrating the Passover with his disciples, Jesus takes them to the Garden of Gethsemane where he asks them to watch and pray as he goes a little further to pray by himself, the text tells us,
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “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.” (v. 40-42)
I believe part of the issue with falling asleep while we pray or read scripture is related to the spiritual battle in which we are engaged. We have a spiritual enemy who understands that when we read the scriptures we arm ourselves with truth that destroys the power of the deception of his lies. When we spend time praying, we are strengthening the bond we have with God, which empowers us to resist temptation and discern the difference between truth and deception. In other words, when we wake up and pray as Jesus encouraged his disciples to do, we are winning the battle, not only for our own hearts and minds, but for those we pray for. When we wake up and pray, we begin to drive the enemy back from the territory he has stolen from us.
Perhaps it is no small wonder that he works so hard at trying to lull us back to sleep. To keep us comfortable enough that we don’t wake up, so that he can continue his deceptive scheming and plan our destruction.
It takes discipline to wake up, and to stay awake enough to fight the battle, but every day that we choose not to we lose ground to the enemy of our souls. Don’t be mistaken; it is not as though Satan can snatch us out of the Father’s hand. Our eternal life is secure with Jesus, what is at stake is the quality of life that we live right now. Don’t let the enemy rock you to sleep. “Watch and pray so that you may not enter into temptation.”