Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:36-41 NKJV)
In this section of scripture, we see several principles demonstrated to us by Jesus. (1) He had his disciples support him in prayer, but furthermore, He shared his distress with his inner circle (Peter, James, and John) not all the disciples. (2) Although Jesus was exceedingly sorrowful, even to death, He prayed for the Fathers will, not His own. (3) Despite Jesus’ anguish for what was about to be upon him, He urged the disciples to pray that they may not enter into temptation themselves. (4) Lastly, He highlighted the weakness of the flesh (carnal nature) despite the willingness of the spirit (born-again man).
The first principle demonstrates the importance of community. Jesus sought out the support of his disciples when he was overcome by grief and agony. It is important that we seek out support in our community of friendships and those whom we do life with. However, it is noteworthy to highlight that the Lord did not express his suffering to all his disciples, but only to those whom he considered his ‘inner circle’. We may have many acquaintances and even friends that we look to for support through prayer, but Jesus gives us the example to only disclose intimate details of the challenges we are facing to those whom we deem trustworthy (part of our inner circle).
In the second principle, Jesus prayed and made his request known to the Father in his time of despair. He prayed for what he’d hope would be the outcome, but above his own desire and his own emotions of despair, he prayed for the Fathers will to supersede his own will. This demonstrates that we can always let our request be made known to the Father but be willing to present our prayers with a surrendered posture; ultimately desiring the Father’s will to come to pass in our lives above our own desires.
The third principle reminds us prayer is a weapon against temptations. We know that temptation is not from the Father, but from the enemy (Matt. 4:1). We can overcome the temptations set before us by keeping watch and being diligent in prayer as highlighted by Jesus in this section of scripture. “Keep watch and pray, so you will not give into temptation.” Notice prayer does not keep the temptation away, but it keeps us from giving into it.
Lastly, Jesus gives the disciples the reason why they should pray. Yes, it keeps the disciples from giving into temptation, but it is by strengthening the spirit through prayer that this is accomplished. The prayer itself does not keep us from falling, but it strengthens our spirit-man whom in turn keeps us from falling. Jesus reminds us the flesh is weak so we must strengthen our spirit-man through prayer.
Will you reach out to those whom God has emplaced in your life to support you in prayer? Reach out for support and prayer. Share with your inner circle in your times of trial. Let your request be made known to the Father, while ultimately seeking his will for your life. Strengthen the spirit-man through prayer to overcome the flesh that is being tempted by the enemy… For the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us what to do in times of trial. I make my request known to you ultimately seeking your will for my life. I thank you for reminding me that doing life alone was never part of your plan and it is ok for me to reach out to my friends and family in my distress. I diligently keep watch and pray lest I give into temptation. I seek your strength. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen!