Mark 14:37–40 (ESV): 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.
I can readily identify with the disciples here. So often we set ourselves to go to God in prayer only to find ourselves overcome by sleep. Prayer, that vital communion with God, is one of the most joy-filled disciplines, and one of the most difficult to keep up consistently. When we start a thousand random thoughts fill our minds, and the world comes crashing in with distraction after distraction. Many of us find the cares of the world so pressing that we are flooded with anxiety over time and the giant todo list that needs to get done. And so we can’t quiet our hearts. Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is so weak. These words of Jesus come directly after he had given them the bread of his body and the cup of the new covenant in his blood. Having just celebrated the Passover meal, and the institution of the Lord’s supper you would think this would be a spiritually high-point. Yet it is precisely here that we need to be cautioned for Monday morning can always be the most spiritually difficult. Great spiritual triumphs can often be followed by great seasons of testing. Our Lord, in his greatest hour of need, prayed—What do you do in your greatest hour of need. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Father, our spirit is indeed willing, but our flesh is weak. Come and strengthen us so that in our hour of need, we may attend to you in prayer and not be overcome by sleepiness, or by the cares of this world. Give each of us a deep communion with you, by your Spirit in and through your Son. As we come, lifting to you hearts of praise and adoration, hear our pleas for mercy, and give us the grace to encounter the challenges before us today. Make us a people devoted to you in prayer. Thank you that we have a Savior who daily intercedes for us; he is our great high priest. Because of Jesus, we can pray. And we can pray expectantly, for we come in his name. Amen.