And when he rose from prayer, he came to his disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:45-46
I was in the Prayer Room at the Desiring God National Conference here in Minnesota when I read this tonight, and it made an impression on me. Jesus is in Gethsemane, and after separating himself and praying so earnestly that sweat falls like great drops of blood to the ground, he returns to his disciples to find them asleep. At first I thought Jesus said to them “Get up and pray this: pray that you won’t be tempted.” I thought the word that introduced the content of what the disciples were to pray. That’s one way to use the word that, right? As in, “Did I tell you that I read Luke 22 earlier?” But this isn’t the kind of that Jesus is using. He is using the word that which introduces not content but purpose. “Rise and pray in order that you may not enter temptation.”
I think about the times in my life when I have been most tempted, and they have been when I have been asleep. Not physically, but spiritually. It seems to be a one-way-or-the-other kind of deal: Either I enter into prayer, into a life characterized by wakefulness, watchfulness, and prayer, or I enter into temptation, into a life characterized by soft decisions and desires which grow stronger and stronger until they blot out the thought of prayer or fellowship or worship or confession or study or repentance or joy.
I have been so convicted lately, and this reading has been one more confirmation, that the call of the day is prayer. Watchful prayer which engages the mind and soul to do business with God, to cry out over the lost, to repent of sin, to understand the Word, to make peace with the body, to send and go and be light in every corner of the globe. It’s a call on my life, and it’s a call on your life:”Rise, pray in order that you may not enter into temptation.”