Watch and Pray
by Robby Higginbottom
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” And He came and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer Him. And He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, My betrayer is at hand.”
1 Peter 4:7; Mark 14:32-42
How would we trace the story of urgency in Peter’s life? We could follow him from the shores of the sea, where he labored to catch fish, to the roads of Caesarea Philippi, where he passionately declared, “You are the Christ!” (Matthew 16:16). We could follow him from the Garden of Gethsemane, where he tried to thwart Jesus’ plan, to the streets of Jerusalem, where he told the religious leaders, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). We could follow him from the moment that he laid down his nets to the moment that he laid down his life. Through all the ups and downs, we would see a man who learned that “the end of all things is at hand,” a man who invites us to “be self-controlled and sober-minded” for the sake of our prayers (1 Peter 4:7).
Peter was passionate, but passion can be misdirected. Like Peter, our urgency is often tainted by self-interest and self-preservation. But by God’s grace, passion can also be redirected. As He did in Peter’s life, the Lord wakes us up to the glory of His person and purposes. Our self-centered urgency begins to fall asleep as a Christ-centered passion awakens. If urgency reflects priority, Peter’s life reminds us that the Lord is always realigning our priorities to reflect the centrality of Jesus Christ and His mission. The question is: Are we open to that kind of process, to having our priorities challenged and changed?
If we traced the story of urgency in our own lives, what would we see? How do our priorities shine through in our sense of urgency (or lack thereof)? Are we awake to the glory of Christ and the priority of knowing Him and making Him known? Or are we distracted by the urgency of good but not ultimate concerns: finishing school, doing our job, finding a spouse, maintaining a home, caring for children or parents? Have secondary concerns so consumed us that we are numb to our primary calling to abide in Christ? As we nod off into a spiritual slumber, do we even recognize the voice of the tempter? Brothers and sisters, watch and pray. Consider the One who resolved to go to the cross, even as His best friends fell asleep. Remember the One who rose from the grave, even as His best friends lost hope. Remember the One who is coming again, even when we lose our urgency. Jesus knows our struggle and loves us. Jesus prays for us and has the power to awaken us. Watch and pray.