Text: Luke 22:39-46
Summary: Father, awaken our spirits, that the Church of God may rise up, watch and pray.
39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Father, we come as your children and as disciples of Jesus Christ. We ask that you teach us how to pray today not just in a general way but I pray that you give us specific instructions on how to pray. We pray that you help us to raise the intensity of our prayers. Night is coming, Lord, so now we want to ramp up our prayers. Help us. Teach us, Holy Spirit. Jesus, we lift you up. We pray that you would draw all men, women, and children to your feet. Thank you. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen
Before I speak on the main text, the Lord encouraged me with Luke 12 this week. As I was praying, He gave me these set of verses.
1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. When you look at our news, our politicians, at Hollywood, everywhere you look, there is hypocrisy. Our governor got caught this week in hypocrisy. When he was at a dinner gathering with no masks and right after he issued a stricter order in our state, we just have to know that we are surrounded by Pharisees, people who say one thing but do not practice it. And the encouragement from this is that it says nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the house tops.
That’s the encouragement from the Lord, that we should be praying for God to expose the hypocrites, to expose the corruption, to expose the lies. People are lying in politics. People are lying in the medical profession. People are lying in academia. People are lying in the news. People are lying left and right. And my prayer and God’s encouragement to me is that He will expose what has been spoken about in secret. He’s going to expose it. So let’s pray along those lines, that God exposes what’s been hidden, it will be proclaimed on the housetops.
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
There is a place for meditative prayer, for silent prayer, for prayer walks and just listening and being still. There’s a time for that type of prayer. But Jesus models for us prayer. He does so through loud cries and tears. We’re in a time, brothers and sisters, when our prayers need to be loud. We need to cry out in prayer. This is not a quiet season, when we can just get by with meditative prayer. We need to cry out loudly. Jesus was heard because of His reverence. Because of the loudness, because of the intensity of His prayer. So let’s ramp up our prayers. May God teach us today how to ramp up prayers.
I encourage you to read the account of Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane in Luke 22 along with Matthew 26. If you take it together, there are things that the Lord will fill in the gaps, that Luke left out, that Matthew left out. Let’s look at them together. We’ll do some of that today. Jesus asked the disciples to watch and pray. I think the Lord’s encouragement to us is that our spirits may be awakened today. Our spirits need to be awakened today, that the Church of God may rise up, may watch, and pray.
Jesus asked the disciples to watch and pray. Why did the disciples fall asleep? We might think this is just a physical problem. It’s late in the evening, or very early morning. We don’t know exactly the time, but it is late, it is nighttime. It’s a time when the disciples normally would be sleeping. So is this purely a physical problem? They’re groggy, their body is shutting down, their eyes are heavy. Is this just a physical problem that the disciples are going through? In Luke 22:45, the answer is given.
45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow.
When you are sorrowful, when you are mentally in pain, when you are fatigued in your emotions, that has a direct result and consequence in your body. Their bodies are shutting down. We need to see that what came before was their mind and their emotions were shutting down because their soul was downcast, depressed, and oppressed. They were made low because their soul was under assault. That is why their body fell. We are body, soul, and spirit. We are three parts of one whole person. So when your spirit is asleep, the bottom line is, you won’t pray. We’ll talk about that because the Bible defines what a sleeping spirit looks like.
But when your soul is also under attack, when your soul is in sorrow, this is a mental, emotional state. When you are deep in that type of sorrow, your body will fall. Our mental state affects our body. Our emotional state affects our body. Our spirit affects our body. Everything is tied together. We’re one whole person. So if one part of you is broken, all of you is broken. That’s what we learn from this passage. They are falling asleep physically because mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually, they are under assault. Sorrow is what caused the disciples to physically fall asleep.
The Bible defines a spirit that is asleep as somebody who refuses to pray. If you’re prayerless, maybe we need to look at our spirit. Could it be that our spirit has fallen asleep?
40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Who fell spiritually soon after this account because they had fallen asleep physically during a time when he should have been praying? It’s Peter. Peter fell asleep during this time of prayer because he was sorrowful. His emotions were under assault. He was mentally in pain. Because of that sorrow, he did not pray and he fell asleep. And because he did not pray, he fell into temptation. He denied Jesus three times. Jesus is talking to His disciples and specifically, He’s addressing Peter.
Watch out, Peter, you’re going to fall into temptation. Pray with me, Peter. Peter doesn’t pray, he falls asleep because of his sorrow. And because he did not pray, he falls into temptation. Why should we pray? It’s because if we do not pray, we are ripe and sitting prey, temptation is right around the corner and we may stumble into it. Why should we be praying at all times? So that we will not be tempted to fall away.
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
He’s saying, watch. He’s saying, wake up. He’s saying, spirit, wake up. The spirit in us, wake up. So that we can pray and not fall into temptation, so that we can have the strength to escape and to endure. Wake up. Let’s pray this prayer, awaken our spirits, Lord. If you have not been praying, or if your prayers have been soft and quiet, if your prayers have lacked intensity, ask the Lord to awaken your spirit. Awaken our spirits, Lord, so that we can pray with intensity.
How do our spirits get asleep? We saw in Luke 22, it’s when we are in deep sorrow, our soul is sorrowful, our minds are in pain, we are emotionally downcast. And 2020 has been a year when it has been a psychological, mental, emotional assault from the evil one coming in various directions, and we have to see that we’ve been weakened, so that we don’t pray. Satan wants to take out our greatest weapon which is prayer. He wants us to be defenseless against him because we don’t pray. And so he’s been attacking us in our minds, in our emotions, in our soul, and as a result, our spirit has fallen asleep and we have not prayed.
Another way to talk about our soul is our hearts. He says our hearts have been weighed down. And the word for weighed down, is to be burdened. It has been depressed. It has been oppressed. It’s been sleepy. When your soul is under attack, your heart is weighed down. We become sleepy spiritually and we cease to pray. How does it become sleepy? With dissipation. That is a nausea that comes from drunkenness. That is a numbness, a headache, a hangover. I think many of us this year, we feel like there’s a spiritual hangover. A numbness that has set in. A prayerlessness. And even when we pray, a lack of power in our prayer, a lack of loudness and intensity, a lack of earnestness and zeal in our prayers.
Our hearts are weighed down with dissipation and also drunkenness, deep drunkenness is the actual translation. The cares of this life, the anxieties of COVID, and shutdown and businesses being shut down and finances being tightened, and who is going to be my president? And do we have a future, are we going to be in lockdown for the rest of our days? All the cares of this life that fracture us, that divide us, all of this contributes to hearts and souls that are numbed like you’re drunk, you’re just going through the motions but your mind is disengaged. Your spirit is asleep. You’re going through the motions and you don’t feel like the Lord is with you. You don’t know how to pray and when you do pray, it is anemic, it is weak, it’s lacking zeal.
I want to point out one key difference between Jesus and us. I want to build my case with Matthew 26:36. The key difference between Jesus and us, is that when Jesus is sorrowful, He ramps up His prayer. The more pain He feels in His soul, in His mind, in His will, in His emotions, in His heart, the more pain He feels, the more He ramps up His prayer. Sadly, I think when we are under assault, when we are sorrowful, when our heart is weighed down, instead of praying more, we become paralyzed. That is the key difference and I want to show you from God’s word in Matthew 26.
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”
Remember, we talked about the disciples and why they fell asleep physically. It is because mentally and emotionally in their soul and in their heart, they were sorrowful. That led to a spirit that was falling asleep, and outwardly the manifestation of that is prayerlessness. In stark contrast, the more sorrow Jesus feels, the more intense His prayers got.
Jesus says He is very sorrowful. The root word is the same, the disciples are sorrowful. Jesus is sorrowful. But this one has a prefix in front of it. He is very sorrowful. He is engulfed in sorrow. When we are engulfed in sorrow, the last thing we want to do is pray. We wallow in our emotions. We think about all of our problems and that’s not praying. Just thinking about it is not praying. Talking about it to your friend, to your spouse, to your roommate is not praying. Praying is when you bring these to the Lord with intensity.
Jesus is engulfed in sorrow, much stronger in word than the disciples when they experienced sorrow. Jesus is engulfed, is encompassed, He is drowning in this sorrow, He is covered in this sorrow. Is Jesus downcast? Is Jesus emotionally weak? Is He in pain? He is all those things. But is He prayerless? No, He is not prayerless. He is ramping up His prayer because the more pain He feels, the more prayer He offers up to His Heavenly Father.
Turn with me to Isaiah 53. I’m building my case that Jesus shows us a new way. Instead of being defeated by your soul, instead of allowing your soul to dictate your body and to cause your spirit to fall asleep so that the last thing you do is pray, I want to give the example of Jesus Christ so that we can follow in His footsteps. The more pain you feel, the more intensely you pray.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows. This is highlighting the humanity of Christ. The reason why we can so identify with Jesus. The reason why we can have confidence to go to Him. He sympathizes with our weakness because He was a man. He took on human flesh. He went through everything. The whole range of emotions of pain and suffering that we could possibly go through.
He is a man of sorrows and the word for sorrows is pain. He understands pain. It could be physical pain but I think in this case, it is mental pain. He understands our plight. He understands our frailty. He understands our finitude, our weakness. He sympathizes with us. He went through it all with us. He’s going through it with us now. He’s a man who understands mental pain. What does He do with these mental pains? In Isaiah 53:4, it says He carries them. He carries our pain.
The word for carry means bearing a heavy load. He understands that mentally this is our biggest battle. Our biggest battle is here. It’s in our head. It’s in our heart. It’s not outward. It’s not external. The enemy comes and attacks us mentally, emotionally, and in our hearts. What Jesus does is He comes alongside us, He sees the greatness and the heaviness of the assault, and He bears it for us.
Then it says He is acquainted with grief. The grief is affliction. And in most cases the affliction is physical, it is disease and sickness. When it comes to disease, sicknesses and griefs, Jesus says, He bears them. But this is a different word here. Here He says He lifts, He takes away. He carries it away. So in comparison to physical things versus mental, emotional, soulish things, which is more important? Which is harder? Which is easier? I want to say from God’s Word, that the physical stuff is easier. He will take it away if you bring the physical things before Him. It’s easy for Him.
But the mental things, the emotional things, He bears it with us. He says it’s heavy. It’s a different word. He bears the heavy load. He’s going to go through life with us, because in the world, we will have tribulation (John 9). We will have tribulation, we will have affliction, we will have grief, sorrow, stress, distress, the word tribulation is all encompassing. Jesus knows that even if today He lifts up the mental pain, tomorrow, there’s going to be a new mental pain. There’s going to be a new tribulation, a new sorrow. So this one Jesus says, I will bear it for you. I will do life with you. I understand. I am a man of sorrows.
Think about Jesus. Why is He a man of sorrows? How intense were His sorrows? When Jesus has encounters with people, for example, the rich ruler who wanted to be a disciple of Christ. But because of his love for money, he could not let it go. This man walks away sad. As this man is walking away sad, think about how intensely Jesus’ emotion must have been in that moment when this man is walking away. Jesus sees everything.
Jesus sees not only that moment, He sees the future of this man in eternity, if this person stays on the course that he’s moving. He sees the unending suffering that this person will experience for all eternity and the gnashing of teeth. He was so close to salvation, and for eternity he will gnash his teeth. Think about how much Jesus felt emotionally. How much sorrow He felt for people, for the brokenness of this world, every encounter.
He weeps over Jerusalem, He sees that in a few decades this whole temple that’s so grandiose is going to be just stone and rubble. For Jesus who sees the future, think about how much sorrow He felt. He is a man of sorrows. He sees all the sorrows you and I are bearing, and He says, I will carry it for you. I will carry your heavy load for you. We have a remarkable Jesus we follow. He’s a man who understands our mental, emotional pain. He will carry it for us. Bring it to Jesus. Bring it to Jesus.
The key difference between Jesus and us is the more pain we feel, it leads to our spirits falling asleep and our bodies falling asleep. Overall, the conclusion is that prayerlessness sets in. When you are stressed, think about the prayer life on the day of your stress. How much did you pray when you were stressed? When you read the news and you were anxious and you were in fear. Think about how much you prayed on that day.
Look back and think about the worst day of 2020. How much did you pray on those days? I think you will see a pattern. The more pain you felt, the less you prayed. This is because spiritually you are under assault. And unlike Jesus you will allow your spirit to fall asleep, and your body just fell like dominoes along with your spirit and your soul. Jesus gives us a new pattern. And I pray that this week will become the pattern of the rest of our days, that the more pain you feel, the more you will pray.
41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.
I thought that last verse was so interesting. Did you know that an angel visited Jesus in the middle of His prayer? It’s a prayer that wasn’t even an hour long, because at the end, Jesus says, couldn’t you even keep watch with me for an hour? So somewhere between zero minutes to 60 minutes, in between there is such an intensity of prayer that an angel has to visit Jesus. It says He’s in agony. And the word here is great struggle. It’s the pressure of two athletes in competition.
44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
This is like Tyson Holyfield, this is a heavyweight battle. Did you know prayer is a fight? Did you know Jesus is showing us how to be a fighter? Jesus is telling us this is not a two-hand touch. This is not a helmet, pads, and big padded gloves. This is a hand-to-hand MMA battle to the death. Prayer is a fight. Jesus is a fighter. Jesus is a fighter. He’s so intense in His prayer that in between rounds, He’s going to His corner and the angels are strengthening Him so that He can go fight more intensely. After the angel strengthens Him, He goes and He prays more earnestly as if it wasn’t intense enough. He goes back to His corner, He gets more divine strength, He goes back and He fights. He ramps up His intensity. This is somebody who understands what’s at stake because night is coming.
For Jesus, night is coming. There’s no more ministry. Night is coming. No more work can be done. Night is coming. Satan is having his day, and he thinks he has his victory. Night is coming, the betrayer Judas is already coming toward the Mount of Olives and he is coming for Jesus. Jesus knows it and He ramps up His prayers. Then He says in Matthew 26:40-41 and Luke 22:36 a similar idea. He says, wake up, watch, rise. Rise in prayer.
When He says rise in Luke 22:36, it can mean when you’re physically down to get up. It’s also when somebody is dead, to rise from the dead. So I think Jesus has all the meanings in mind here when He says rise and pray. Rise up and pray. Spiritually if you’ve been asleep, your spirit is asleep because your emotions, your heart is weighed down, because you’re sorrowful, because you’re mentally fatigued, because of 2020, because you’re fearful, because the anxieties have fractured you on the inside.
Jesus’ encouragement to all of us is to rise up. Rise from the spiritual death, from the spiritual grave. Awaken our spirits, Lord, so that we can pray. While you’re praying, you may still feel the mental pain. See how much Jesus felt the mental pain? He understands it. He bore all of our pain. He understands the intensity required for prayer. You will pray the more pain you feel. Instead of shutting down, ramp up your prayers. If you cannot do it, ask for divine strength. Send the angels, Lord, I want to pray like you prayed. Ramp up the prayers.
Jesus says at the end, couldn’t you keep watch with me for an hour. I think Jesus’ invitation to His church at this hour is, can the Church of God be awakened and keep watch for even an hour? Can you keep watch for even an hour in a day? Can you do it? It’s not a lot to ask. We can play games for hours. We can watch movies for hours. We can read news for hours. Can we pray for an hour? Just an hour. Jesus is not giving us something too difficult. He says, couldn’t you just keep watch with me for an hour?
Jesus went through His trial, now we are in our trial. We are not watching for Jesus. We’re watching for ourselves. He says watch for yourselves, so that you don’t fall into temptation. We need to be watchful, so that we don’t fall. That is why we pray. So that we don’t fall. Prayer is the biggest weapon that we have in our arsenal so that we don’t fall, so that our sorrows do not defeat us. So that Satan does not defeat us. So that our spirit doesn’t fall asleep again, our body just falls like a domino.
Jesus’ encouragement is to awaken our spirit. Rise up, spirit. Wake up, spirit. Wake up, Church of God. Wake up, Body of Christ. Can you watch for yourselves for an hour? That’s not a lot to ask. You might be busy. You might not be able to do a single hour. Divide it up. Do whatever and whenever you can. Jesus encourages us to watch for an hour and don’t go through the motions. Ask for divine power from the angels to pray with intensity. Okay, let’s pray.
Father, thank you for giving us the example of Jesus Christ. What a prayer warrior. What a fighter. We tend to focus on what He did physically in His body and that is impressive. But Lord, today we see what He does in His prayer closet. The Mount of Olives was a place where He visited frequently. This was customary for Him. This was where He did His greatest battle. And Lord, you’re encouraging the Body of Christ, the Church of God worldwide. Awaken us. Father, awaken our spirit.
Jesus, help us, awaken our spirit. Holy Spirit, help us awaken our spirit. So that we can pray the way you prayed, Lord Jesus. We see how we are so tricked by the enemy. The enemy just assaults us in our soul, assaults us in our mind, assaults us in our emotions. And like dominoes we fall, our spirit falls, our soul falls and our body falls. And we are prayerless. Lord Jesus, you are showing us a new way. The more pain you felt, the more intense your prayers. When you were engulfed in sorrow, you had the greatest intensity of prayer that night.
Lord, night is upon us. Lord, you’re encouraging us to fight. You’re encouraging us to fight. We can fall victim, we can just lay down and let Satan and the Antichrist do what he will. We can just fall asleep and lay down like a slave. Or we can rise up and fight. I thank you that this week, even Biola, for the first time since I’ve been there, they’re fighting. They’re fighting the absurd, ridiculous regulations of the LA county that are just illogical. Finally, they awoke and they started to fight.
Father, may the Body of Christ rise up and start to fight. We don’t need to fight politically, we don’t need to fight on social media, but on our knees, we need to fight. We need to fight for ourselves first and foremost, so that we don’t fall into temptation. We should fight for our loved ones so they don’t fall into temptation. We should fight for America, so that we don’t fall, Lord.
Please help us to fight. Help us to fight. Teach us, Lord. We follow your example. Send your angels. Give us divine strength, invigorate us spiritually so we can fight for ourselves, for our loved ones, for America, for the world. The world is at stake, night is upon us. We pray that we could fight. Jesus, you’re a fighter. You’re the heavyweight champion of the universe. We fight alongside you. Lord, bear our burdens, so that we can fight with you. Help us, Lord. Strengthen us.
I pray that you would meet us. Give us divine strength. Through the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, teach us how to battle on our knees, so we don’t fall into temptation, so that our loved ones don’t fall, so that our nation doesn’t fall, so that our world will not fall. We pray, Lord, that you would send the Spirit to restrain the lawless one that is trying to achieve his schemes worldwide.
We pray for a delay, we pray for a pushing back of darkness, Lord. We pray for corruption to be exposed. We pray that light will shine upon darkness. Give us more time to repent. Delay the inevitable plan of the enemy, that he will have a short period when he rules. Lord, we pray that you would delay it. Delay it, Lord. Expose the corruption. Delay it, Lord. Give us more time, so that we can learn how to pray. Thank you. In Jesus Name, Amen