Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 26:36-46.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:41a).
In Matthew 26:36-46, the Evangelist records Christ’s wrestling in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane before he is arrested and taken to the cross. Spurgeon wrote of this passage, “Here we come to the Holy of Holies of our Lord’s life on earth.” He added, “No man can rightly expound such a passage as this; it is a subject for prayerful, heart-broken meditation, more than for human language” (Commentary on Matthew, 405).
At Gethsemane the Lord Jesus was speaking with the Father, expressing his complete resolution to the Father’s will, declaring, “thy will be done” (v. 42).
He also speaks to his disciples on that terrible night. After commanding Peter, James, and John to watch with him (v. 38), he returns three times to find them sleeping. Sleeping here is, no doubt, not just a sign of physical tiredness but also of spiritual sluggishness.
On Christ’s first return to find the disciples sleeping, he exhorted them, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (v. 41).
The first command to “watch” is the same verb as in the Olivet Discourse, when he told his disciples, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doeth come” (24:42). This is a call to be spiritually alert, to be vigilant, to be active in the faith, as we live in “this present evil world,” between Christ first advent and his second coming.
The second command is to pray. Christ assumes that his disciples will be committed to prayer. In the Sermon on the Mount, he said, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be like the hypocrites…” (6:5).
The sense we get is that the two things are related. The spiritual discipline of prayer feeds and nourishes spiritual watchfulness over our souls. Give up prayer and you fall into spiritual slumber.
Every homeowner knows that having a house in decent working order means you have to do the basic maintenance that is required. This includes everything from basic cleaning and changing lightbulbs and filters to replacing shingles or siding, and all manner of other things.
To maintain our spiritual house, we must engage in basic maintenance. We need worship. We need intake of the Word. We need the ordinances. We need prayer, both private and corporate.
So, let us watch and pray, attending to the spiritual disciplines, including prayer, to keep us alert and active in the faith till Christ returns with power and great glory.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle