Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
This passage holds powerful testimony to Christ’s anguish. Jesus’ soul was tested and sorrowful ‘to the point of death’ (Matt 26:38). Yet each time He returned to find His disciples sleeping, He urged them to pray that they would not fall into temptation. He foresaw the trials that were to come for each of them—temptation to do that which was opposed to God’s will. The Angel of the Lord strengthened Jesus so that He would be able to bear the trials without faltering from His path.
If we have faith, then we know the imperative is that God’s will must be done. It is our priority, so we must pray. People often ask why God allows so much evil to prevail on earth. God has given man free will and so long as there is sin in the world, there will be trials. Man does ill to man. God cannot be to blame.
God indeed has the ability to end all struggles on earth, but if He were to intervene without our asking, then we will have lost our free agency.
On many occasions when Jesus healed people, even when it was obvious what they needed, He asked them what they wanted. The declaration needed to come from their mouths that they wanted God to intervene. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” (Rev. 3:20). He is waiting for us. Waiting for us to ask. Do not wait only until you are desperate. The word says to pray about everything (Phil. 4:6). Be strengthened before the trials, lest you be strengthened by them. The second option is a much harder road.
In prayer, we are returning our will to God, that is why Jesus said when we pray we must say ‘[His] will be done’ (Matt 6:10). We are therefore allowing God to take full reign over every situation. Here on earth it will be done as in heaven. Heaven holds the perfect will of God. That is why when we pray, we are realigning the earth with heaven, bringing about the kingdom perfection here. No more tears, no more pain, no more suffering, no more death… Yet we may suffer in the flesh to see the greater will of God come about. The realigning is rarely an enjoyable thing. A branch may grow crooked, maturing and hardening. It must first be broken before it can be straightened.
Do not allow yourself to be tempted away from God’s will. Do not be found slumbering. Jesus sent us the Helper, the Holy Spirit, and He is in constant intersession for our world. He is the Spirit of Christ living in us, so do not slumber while He prays. Partner with the Spirit in prayer. Waken. Waken and pray.
- What in your life is tempting you away from the will of God?
- What can you be covering in prayer and seeking God’s will for?
- What is the Holy Spirit prompting you to pray for?
- Read Revelation 3:2-4. What can you draw from this passage that relates to the state of your/our prayer life and how we should approach our watchfulness and petitions?