Outside of Jerusalem there was a public park called Gethsemane (Geth-si-muh-nee). Jesus liked to hang out there and rest there. So, the night before He is crucified, that’s where He heads to, so that He can pray (Matthew 26:36-46). His disciples go with Him, and He asks them to pray because He is feeling overwhelmed and wants their help.
They fall asleep.
So, He goes and prays, asking for God to find some other way to get the job done. He knows what is coming, and it is burying Him. But, He relents that whatever His Father wants to do, He will do. He goes back to check on his friends.
They are asleep. He wakes them up, gets on them a little, asks them to pray, and goes off to pray again.
He prays the same prayer as before. After a while, He heads back to check on His friends.
They are asleep. Again. This time He doesn’t wake them up.
He goes back, and prays the same thing, for a third time. Please God, find some other way, but if there is no other way, then I will do Your will.
When He returns this time, his friends are still asleep. He wakes them up, just as Judas and the soldiers show up.
A couple of things hit me here. Jesus spends quite a bit of time praying (the whole night passes), and He repeatedly asks God to find another way. Each time, He concedes that He will do what His Father wants, but He keeps asking for another way. He is struggling, He is overwhelmed, He is scared, and He keeps asking for help. He wrestles with this plan, and finally gives in. I am so encouraged that God allows us to wrestle with issues. I’m not saying we should make it a habit, by any means. But sometimes God is going to ask us to do things that are so difficult, so tough, it may take us awhile to come around. I am grateful for a God of grace and patience with those who want to follow Him.
Secondly, the disciples fell asleep. They were supposed to be praying, but they fell asleep. And they pay for it. Jesus encourages them to pray so that they wouldn’t fall into temptation. They didn’t (pray) and they did (fall). We are told over and over to pray. Are we? Or are we just too tired in life to pray? If so, we shouldn’t be surprised that our faith is weak and we constantly are struggling with the same temptations over and over and over.
It’s interesting the difference in the characters. Jesus prays, the disciples don’t. Jesus wins, the disciples fail and run. What do you need to be praying about today? What is stopping you from praying right now?