Have you fallen asleep in your prayer?
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 5, 2011
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (Mark 14:37-41 NIV)
Linus, from the cartoon Peanuts once said, “I love humanity — its people I can’t stand!” He echoes what a lot of us in ministry have come to realize, and he makes me wonder if Jesus did not think this sometimes. Now I know Jesus loved his disciples, even the one who betrayed him, that is who Jesus is. He exemplifies the love of God in human flesh, but it still makes one wonder. Especially, when we find him in deep distress, asking his followers to stay awake and join him in prayer.
Jesus comes back to where he left his followers and finds Peter snoring away! “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” How sad to discover the ones you depend upon asleep during your greatest time of need. And remember, Jesus asked them to come and pray with him, to “Stay here and keep watch!” Sadly, Jesus comes back and finds them sleeping three separate times!
Could the church today be guilty of being asleep and not joining Jesus where he needs us? The world is getting more and more spiritually dark, yet Christians sleep. Instead of giving, serving, ministering, or witnessing we try and make excuses for our inaction and sin.
Far too many Christians are relying on feelings rather than their actual walk with Christ. The reason is simple: They do not spend time with Christ in order to know what God’s will is. When believers rely on emotions or feelings, sin crouches at the door. In fact, I have heard believers use Jesus’ words to the disciples to excuse their ungodly actions. They flippantly respond, after being caught in their transgressions, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” God did not mean for us to use his words as a means of escaping our spiritual responsibilities nor as an excuse for our sin. When we fail to go to God in prayer, we are doing the very thing that Peter and the disciples did that evening when Jesus asked them to stay awake and pray. We betray a trust God has given us to depend on him. We also betray our walk with him, the relationship Jesus established through his death, burial, and resurrection.
One day soon, Jesus will say, “Enough! The hour has come!” and we had better not be caught sleeping. I believe the reason our body is weak is because our spirit truly is not very willing. Have you fallen asleep in your prayer? Oh, I pray not!
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.