The night before He was crucified, Jesus went to The Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He gave this challenge to His disciples.
"Pray that you may not enter into temptation." Luke 22:40
Jesus withdrew from them a short distance, knelt down and began to pray. The disciples fell asleep. When Jesus saw them sleeping, He reminded them that their prayerlessness was an invitation to the enemy.
There is a contemporary misconception about Satan. It is the misguided belief that the adversary is unable to hit a moving target. This may be why so many Christians refuse to slow down, and why most church calendars fill up with endless activities. Believers who live in the fast lane often end up out of gas on a dead end street. They were tempted to believe that God's business is expressed by busyness. It may be closer to the truth to understand that busyness often leads to barrenness. Prayerless people may be doing more, but the chances are they are enjoying less. Succumbing to the tyranny of the urgent, they forget what is most important. This temptation is nothing new in Satan's arsenal of spiritual weapons, but it is still highly effective.
In 1877, Horatius Bonar confronted his peers, the pastors of Scotland, with his book, "Words to Winners of Souls." He wrote,
"Why is there so little anxiety to get time to pray? Why is there so little forethought in the laying out of time and employments so as to secure a large portion of each day for prayer? Why is there so much speaking, yet so little prayer? Why is there so much running to and fro, and yet so little prayer? Why so much bustle and business, yet so little prayer? Why so many meetings with our fellow-men, yet so few meetings with God? Why so little being alone , so little thirsting of the soul for the calm, sweet hours of unbroken solitude, when God and His child hold fellowship together as if they could never part? It is the want of these solitary hours that not only injures our growth in grace, but makes us such unprofitable members of the church of Christ, and that renders our lives useless. In order to grow in grace, we must be much alone. It is not in society - even Christian society - that the soul grows most rapidly and vigorously. In one single, quiet hour of prayer, it will often make more progress than in days of company with others."
To find out the condition of your heart, you only need to use two diagnostic tools: your calendar and your checkbook. We spend time and money on the things we believe are important. The more we value something or someone, the more time and treasure we invest in that or them. Taking a look at a church calendar, and a church budget will often tell you what a church values. When the corporate preferences are polled and identified, then funds are designated by the church for a staff member to come on board to provide leadership to an area that reflects what the church family holds dear.
Setting aside time to get alone with God was and is something on which Jesus placed a very high value. His time on earth then, and His time in Heaven now is lived in close proximity to His Father. Seated at the right hand of The Father, Jesus lives to make intercession for His followers. What He is and what He does are inseparably connected. It is not a stretch to say, His Church ought to reflect His value system.
When the system overshadows the Savior, it squeezes out His value system and replaces it with a poor substitute, personal preference or political correctness. Nearness to God, and busyness for God do not accomplish the same thing. The disciples felt comfortable enough with their separation from Jesus that they could lower their guard and sleep. Jesus warned them that this was a habit that would lead them down a path they did not want to go. They slept anyway. Sound familiar?
The awakening needed in this nation and around the world begins with a wake-up call for slumbering saints, not a change of presidents, a surge in the economy or a victory over terror. The wise Christ follower will never yield to the temptation to believe anything else matters more than getting alone with God and praying for His protection, direction, and correction.
Exhausted from your busyness? Don't sleep away time better spent with Jesus. At the end of your rope? Stop making rope! Loosen your white knuckled grip on your personal preference, and clear your calendar for a life-changing encounter with Him today. The old hymn said it pretty well, "Tell it to Jesus." TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!