"Why are you sleeping? Rise up and pray that you may not enter into temptation." Luke 22:46
Principle: Effective prayer begins with an act of obedience to the command of Jesus.
Jesus expects His disciples to pray. He expects them to overcome fatigue and expend whatever energy is necessary to resist temptation successfully. He motivates His followers to prepare to face temptation by waking up, and getting into the Presence of God. Sleep rejuvenates the body after a person has been drained physically. Prayer protects the heart, before a person is attacked spiritually.
The words of Jesus are not a pathetic plea for moral support. They are an authoritative command for His church to take the field and engage the enemy in the battle. They illustrate the priority and the context of prayer. Temptation is coming. Get up and get ready to defeat it.
The business of God is the business of prayer.Many motivational experts would agree that 90% of success in the business world is based on just showing up for work. In God's world, 100% of success is based on showing up for work.
Prayerless people are not tireless people. However, they become loveless people. Jesus commended His church in Ephesus for all their hard work, but He warned them to remember their first love, and do the things that they did at first. Somehow in doing a great work for God, they had stopped spending time with Jesus. They had become guilty of spending more time, doing the work of the Lord, than spending time with the Lord of the work. He told them to, "Remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first, or else I am coming to you , and will remove your lamp stand out of its place -- unless you repent." (Rev. 2:4-5)
When the disciples of Jesus slept through the prayer meeting in the Garden of Gethsemane, He woke them up. This wake up call is a prototype of the contemporary church. Dr. Nelson Bell, father-in-law of Billy Graham, and father of his wife Ruth had been a medical missionary to China. In 1966 he published a book entitled, "While Men Slept." He said, "Protestant Christendom has been asleep and during our sleep the enemy of souls, under the guise of scholarship and advanced knowledge, has sown the seeds of doubt and unbelief."
Four decades later, the need to wake up and pray for something only God can do is still the crying need of the church. The problem is not with God's ability to answer prayer. The inadequacy is with His children. If they do not ask for His help to overcome the temptations that they face, they will fail. To fail to pray is to plan to fail.
Jesus did not need His disciples to pray for Him. They needed to pray for themselves. Jesus could pray for His disciples, but He could not do their praying for them. When Jesus enrolled them in His School of Prayer, they slept right through the lesson He was trying to teach them.
When Jesus woke them up. He motivated them to pray. Jesus still motivates His followers to pray. At some point in time, the true Christ follower will discover the need to spend time in prayer with God. Temptation is not sin, but it leads to sin. Sin separates a person from God because it moves them away from a close walk with Jesus, "The way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6)
James, the first pastor of the church at Jerusalem, and the brother of Jesus said,
- "You have not because you ask not." (James 4:3)
- "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." (James 5:16)
The priorities of God have not changed with the changing of centuries and the crossing of cultures. Effective prayer is still the prayer that is prayed. It is not effective until the prayer is prayed.
The Practice of Prayer: Wake up. This is the start of your effective prayer life. Show up. Start praying. Lift up. This means burdens must be dropped, and you come with empty hands to God. Take up. Don't walk away from prayer with the same burden that brought you to prayer. Stand up. If you have trouble falling asleep when you pray, stand while you pray. The fall will cure you of falling asleep on the job. Prayer prepares you to face the temptations of the day. Keep up. Follow Jesus where ever He leads you today.
Thought for the Day: Jesus motivates His followers to pray, because He knows it is a disaster for them to face temptation in a prayerless condition.
"The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution in history to world evangelization." Andrew Murray