Have you ever faced an issue that you didn’t know if you could solve? Did you ask someone to pray for you to get through the difficult situation? How did you choose whom to ask to pray?
Did it help you to know that someone was praying for you? And did you expect that his prayers would help?
About fifty years ago, I attended my first passion play, which is a reenactment of the life of Christ. I sat in amazement as I watched the account unfold. One story that stood out the most to me happened after Christ had had his time in the upper room with his disciples. He had already washed their feet; He had established the Lord’s Supper; He had told them He was going to prepare a place; He had told them they could not go with Him at the current time; and He said He would send the Holy Spirit. And Judas had gone to betray him. And then…
Matthew chapter 26:36-38 says, “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’”
Here we have Christ asking these three simply to stay awake while He went to pray. Verse 39 tells us what He was praying about: “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’”
But we find that when Jesus returned to the disciples, He found them asleep! He said to Peter, “So could you not watch with me for one hour?’” (ESV).
Why could these men not stay awake? These three men loved the Lord; they would do anything for Jesus. But when Jesus asked them to stay awake and pray, they could not do it. Why not?
When I saw this event in the passion play, I was distressed that these men could not stay awake. But I am going to give you two reasons why I think they could not do so.
Reasons We Don’t Pray or Help
I think the first reason is that the flesh is weak. We allow things to affect our service for Him. Just think of the times in our lives when we plan to do a ministry and let something get in the way. How many times have you said, “I’ll pray for you” and then don’t do it? How many times has somebody needed us to visit him but we’re too busy to do it? When that game on TV is suddenly very important. The flesh is weak.
The second reason might surprise you. I don’t think the disciples understood the importance of what Jesus asked them to do. They did not understand that Jesus really did want them to pray. It’s such a simple thing, but we’re the same way. People ask us to do things, and we don’t realize how important it is to them.
I’ll never forget when I had a job driving the church van to pick up some elderly ladies for church every Sunday morning. The entire time I was in that van, they kept thanking me. It was such an easy job! Yet it was important to them. And so, when people ask us to do things, we must realize how important it is to them.
The greatest joy in my life is salvation. We get such joy to be part of the family of God through Jesus. But just like Jesus’ request to the disciples, Jesus also asks us to do things to serve His people. To me, being used by the Lord is the second joy in life. But I’ve learned, men, that God’s will is going to be done whether we help or not. If we don’t do what He asks us to do, He’ll ask somebody else to do it—He will minister to his people.
So the question that I would like you to answer is: “Why do we not do what the Lord asks us to do?”
We should never not want to do something that the Lord wants us to do. If somebody asks us to pray, we need to pray.
There is a great hymn called “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Here are some of the words:
What a friend we have in Jesus ‒
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit;
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
So when someone asks you to pray for him, stay awake and do it.