Fervent Prayer: Confession & Commitment to Spiritual Disciplines
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 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.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:38-41
When I read this passage, as much as I want to look down on the disciples for their lack of discipline and obedience, I find myself too often identifying with their failure. The call to pray is ubiquitous throughout scripture and yet we so often dismiss the call or ignore it altogether. And it’s not just the discipline to pray that we often neglect, it might be the study of God’s word or even the fellowship and community of the Body of Christ. We are instructed throughout scripture to practice each of these for our spiritual benefit and yet we don’t seem to see the import.
That’s why I find Christ’s admonition here so instructive. He acknowledges the condition most of us find ourselves in; ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’. Doesnt that sound familiar? It seems as if He has plucked these words right out of my mind as I approach the practice of spiritual disciplines in my life. But he also reminds us that the practice of these disciplines are essential for our spiritual well being: ‘watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation’. His words reveal the truth that the presence of these practices in our lives will strengthen us to live the life to which God has called us. I can tell you that the less I pray, study His word or fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ the more I struggle with temptation but the more I commit my time to personal and corporate prayer, pressing into the wisdom of the Bible and surrounding myself with the family of God the more I avoid the struggles of the flesh.
Now is a good time to examine our commitment to the spiritual disciplines of our lives and press into the Spirit to find the anointing that empowers us to ‘watch and pray’.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come before you in humility and repentance acknowledging the truth that our willingness to train for godliness has rarely matched our need for it. We repent of the fact that we have continued to elevate the desires of the flesh above the call of the Spirit.
Help us Father, by your Holy Spirit, to change our course. Help us Father, by your Holy Spirit, to embrace the disciplines of faith that we know will transform our spirit lives. Help us Father by your Holy Spirit to enter your holy of holies through the gift of prayer, to cherish the treasure of your Word by faithful Study and to commit to our place in your community with contentment and joy as instruments of the Gospel whether we are single or married, may you empower us to find fellowship as we commit to your community.