Falling Asleep While Praying

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)

You know the scene. It is just moments before Jesus is arrested due to Judas’ hypocrisy. It’s just hours before Jesus is massacred on a Roman cross. He is obviously disturbed while in the Garden of Gethsemane with Peter, James, and John. Jesus is totally stressing out (while at the same time trusting the Father) and the disciples with Him keep falling asleep.

Has it ever bothered you that Jesus got so upset with them for continuing to fall asleep? I mean, it was in the middle of the night. They didn’t ‘get’ what was about to happen. The Father’s plan to have the Son crucified was going to happen regardless of whether they ‘watched and prayed.’  I too fall asleep when I pray. . . sometimes.

So why did Jesus get so bothered by their sleepiness? The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus had the ‘don’t go back to sleep’ talk with the guys three different times (which, by the way, feels like the exact opposite of what I tell my three kids at home during the night and early in the morning)!

Now. I understand that when one does not pray, the door is opened that much wider for Satan to attack and succeed. I get that. But it seems to me that something more is going on here. . . like a parallel between staying awake to pray and fighting sin. Let me explain.

Jesus plainly says to watch and pray so that they might not fall into temptation. THEN He goes on to say the spirit is willing, but the doggone flesh is so weak (my translation . . . but who knows? He could have said it like that in the Greek – He WAS from redneck Nazareth . . . I am kidding for those who are starting to sweat). Jesus knew that if one gives into the flesh during prayer time, then one is probably going to give in to sin during temptation time. If you give into the flesh by allowing it to sleep when it’s time to pray, then you will more than likely give into the flesh when it’s tempting to sin. Jesus was so bothered by their sleepiness because He knew that if their body and mind and soul was not disciplined enough to stay awake and pray for a short season, then neither would their reputation be able to withstand being accused of knowing Jesus in just a few short hours.

Jesus knows that in order to fight the flesh regarding temptation and sin one will have to learn to fight the flesh when it comes to sleepiness and prayer. If you can’t discipline yourself to win the battle with sleepiness, you sure won’t be disciplined enough to withstand the attack of the enemy when he dangles that sinful carrot in front of your face.

What about you? Do you see a relationship between a lack of self discipline in some ‘random’ areas in your life (sleeping, eating, exercise, TV watching, FaceBook dialoging, gossip, etc.) and your propensity to give into more ‘serious’ sin? How you do with one area will more than likely be directly affected by how you do in another.


About pastormpearson

Follower of Jesus. Husband to Katie. Father to Luke, Seth, and Birtukan. Pastor of the First Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas.

Posted on August 15, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Good stuff. Thanks, Bro. Matt.

  2. So true, brother. You cracked me up when you said “Redneck Nazareth”. It reminded me of the passage in John 1, when Nathaniel said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” I literally laugh out loud everytime I read it. In North Alabama, it would be Lawrence County (I know you know what I’m talking about lol).

  3. True we have to develope a descplined habit!

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