Okay, please turn with me to Matthew 26. We’ll read starting in verse 38. The Prayer at Gethsemane. 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. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 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 is possible, let this cup pass for 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. Again, for the second time he went away and prayed, My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. And again he came and found them sleeping for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, Sleep and take your rest later. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, I pray that we can learn not only through Jesus’ words, but His example. He’s modeling for us prayer. And so Father, we pray that You would teach us, motivate us to pray in our secret place, to have extended time with You, give us sufficient motivation today to pray before You. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
I don’t know how this week was for you in terms of trying to find your secret place. I know life is busy. There’s a lot that’s pulling at our attention. A lot of stimulus in the world, a lot of emails and texts and notifications. A lot of hecticness, a lot of noise.
And so I pray that today God will give us more motivation to meet him in the secret place. I think three things happen in prayer that we can see from this text. The first is connection. We connect with the Lord. I think the second thing that happens in prayer is that we overcome temptation. And then the third thing that happens in prayer is we get inspired by God regarding his will.
So the first thing is connection. Jesus is desperate on this night. He knows what is ahead of Him. The Father has already told him and He is confirming, He is wrestling in prayer. This is the dark night of Jesus’ soul. And we see Jesus’ humanity here. He is fully God. But here I think we see his raw, naked, vulnerable humanity.
And he is wrestling as a man before God. He’s modeling for us. He’s almost, we can put ourselves in His shoes because we understand what it’s like to be a man. And Jesus is identifying with us. We see His humanity on full display. And the first thing He says is sit here. In verse 36. And then He says in verse 38, stay here or remain here. And then He says, watch with me. And then he says in verse 41, watch and pray. So sit here. Remain here. Watch with me. And then later, watch and pray.
It’s difficult to sit there in prayer. It is difficult. It is difficult to kneel in prayer in a secret place. When thoughts are swirling, when YouTube can be way more interesting, when your favorite show’s latest episode has just been released, it is difficult to sit there. The reason why I say the first step is connection is it takes time to enter into God’s presence. It takes time. And so you have to sit there.
And more than just sitting there, you have to stay there. You have to remain there. You cannot get up after a few minutes. This is a minimum one hour prayer. That’s first round. Likely a second round, second hour prayer. And then a third round, this is presumably, I assume it’s three hours. It takes time to enter into God’s presence. And so the first thing that Jesus says, before He says, pray, He says, just sit with Me.
Sit here. I’m going over there. You sit here. And then He says, remain here. Stay with me. And He doesn’t even say it’s an hour. He just says as long as it takes, He doesn’t give a timeline. It’s easier somewhat if we say, okay, I’m going to pray for 15 minutes. Like we have a goal. We hit the 15 minutes and we get up and leave.
But this is open-ended. No time limit. Just sit here. And then He says, remain here. And then he says, watch with me. This is not even praying. This is just be with me. I am suffering. I am struggling. Just be with me.
And so that’s the first attitude of prayer is that Jesus says, can you just be with me? Can you sit here with me? Can you stay here with me? Watch with me. It’s an invitation for connection.
That’s why when we enter into the Father’s presence, we are seeking His face. It is calming down our thoughts, our hearts, all the things that pull at us, and the to-do list that’s getting bigger, and the family members that want to do something.
It is shutting all that out and just sitting with Jesus because He asked us to. And then staying with Jesus and watching with Him. This is even before we really enter into prayer. It’s just sitting there. It’s an invitation for connection.
And I find it difficult, I find it difficult, this first invitation of Jesus to just sit with Him, to stay with Him, to watch with Him. I find it difficult because an hour can go by and you think, am I just wasting my time? This seems like a waste of time. Like, I can be productive with this hour. Do I just sit here and just do nothing? I’m in His presence and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say.
And I’m just praying as best I can and trying to enter into His presence. It just takes time. It is a struggle. And these disciples, they are failing the test. And often don’t we also fail the test? After a few minutes we’re bored. We’re not getting anything out of this.
You know, I can be pretty diligent when it comes to reading the Bible. I started a Bible reading plan. In seven months, I finished the Bible. I can do that because that’s within my control. I can put in the time. I can get a result.
This prayer time is open-ended. Jesus said, just sit with Me. Just remain with Me. Just watch with Me. And He gives no other instruction but that for the first hour.
It’s an invitation, just connecting and just being still before Him. And I find prayer is the hardest thing. It is the hardest thing. But we all must learn it. Jesus is telling us, you must learn this. If you want to connect with Jesus, we must learn this. If we want to seek the Father’s face, we must learn this.
We might not have to say much. It might be a struggle. We might be boring. But just sit there. Just remain there. Buffet your body. As much as it’s a spiritual exercise, this first hour is just a bodily exercise. It’s a bodily exercise to just sit there. And then He adds to that. He says, not only sit there, stay there, watch with Me.
Then He continues, He says, in verse 40, so could you not watch with me one hour? Watch, verse 41, watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
And so the first invitation of prayer is connection. The second invitation is overcoming temptation. Temptation comes often through the flesh. If you are lazy, Satan will have many different open doors and avenues to tempt you. Because temptation comes through the flesh. If you’re idle, likely you’re going to be tempted. If you’re bored and doing things you shouldn’t be doing, likely temptation will come. Because temptation comes through the flesh. So the second invitation of prayer is watch and pray so that we can overcome temptation.
If you can’t sit there for an hour plus, likely our flesh is winning. Likely our flesh is weak and we cannot overcome it. So the first question is, do we even have a willing spirit? Does our spirit desire that spirit to Spirit connection which takes time, which can take one hour plus?
When you read that you say, I don’t want it. It’s impossible. That’s religious. Is Jesus really inviting me to this type of prayer? One, two, three hours of prayer? Is He really inviting me to this type of connection and overcoming the temptations that come through my flesh? We may see this and say, that’s too much. Your spirit might not even be willing. Or your spirit is willing, if so, then the next step is we must overcome the flesh.
Which is to sit there. Stay there in that secret place for one hour plus because that first hour is just sitting there. And then the second hour, third hour things start to happen. You start overcoming your flesh. The reason why the disciples each time they are failing to understand what Jesus is going through and they’re not accepting His invitation to watch and pray with Him and be with Him is because their flesh is weak.
I encourage you to exercise. I encourage you to be healthy. I encourage you to be active because if your flesh is weak, probably what goes along with that is your prayer life is weak. But if you become strong in your body, if you know how to overcome the flesh and you can wake up early, you can stay up late if necessary to pray.
Not to do other things but to wake up early to pray, to stay up late to pray. Like Daniel, three times a day, just discipline yourself. If you can’t do it, likely your flesh is weak. And so we need to get our body in shape.
We are made of a body, a soul, and a spirit. And so if our body is weak, likely our spirit will become unwilling because you can’t separate your spiritual life from your physical life. And so your spirit often will be dragged down by your flesh. So if your flesh is lazy, likely you’ll probably say, well, I don’t need to be disciplined spiritually. Those are Pharisees. I don’t need to be like that.
No, there’s a proper place for overcoming our flesh, for being disciplined by waking up early. Daniel, three times a day, praying consistently. There’s a place for it. We’re not doing it to say we’re better than other people. We’re just accepting Jesus’ invitation to sit with Him, to stay with Him, to watch, to pray with Him. Watch with Him, to connect with Him, to seek the Father’s face and to overcome temptation.
And the last thing that happens in prayer is that we get inspired about the Father’s will. It seems like Jesus already was inspired prior to this night of prayer. So He already received the Father’s will, which is, it’s time now, Son. It’s time to go to the cross. And now we’re seeing Jesus struggling as a man. He says, I don’t want to do this.
And I don’t know if that’s a familiar experience for you or not. That the will of God is inspired to you or it just collides into you or gets thrust upon you. And your experience of it is, I don’t want to do it. I don’t know if that’s a familiar experience because I think often prayer ends up just being a time of treating God like a vending machine.
We tell God, I want this Lord. I need this Lord. Can you do this for me? Can you do this for my son? Can you do this for my spouse? And we have a list and it’s just a time to tell God to bless my own desires and give me what I want.
There is a place for venting, for offering the desires of your heart. There’s a place for that. But at the end we ask the Lord, what’s your will, Father? What’s your will, Father? Is that something that’s a regular occurrence in your prayer? That you have your list, but after you go through your list, then you say, Father, what is your will? That’s why we need connection. That’s why it takes time.
It takes time for us to put down our flesh and our soul and our lists and our desires and say, Lord, I want to hear from you now. I’ve done my part. Now I want to hear from you. And Jesus already heard from the Father. And what he heard from the Father, He did not want to do.
And I think that’s a common thing in Scripture. I see Moses. When he’s young and he’s zealous and he’s able-bodied, he’s ready to go to Pharaoh. He’s ready to fight. And then he tries to reconcile Hebrew fellow countrymen and he’s trying to be a ruler and judge. And they say, who are you? Why are you trying to do this? You’re not even one of us. You grew up in Pharaoh’s court. You’re an Egyptian Hebrew. And so we don’t identify with you. We don’t take what you say. And so they rejected him.
And so Moses, he leaves and then 40 years later, God comes to him. And then at age 80, he doesn’t want to do what God asks for him.
God comes to Jonah. Jonah, I need you to go to Nineveh. Jonah says, that’s the last thing I would want to do. And then he goes the opposite direction and then God intervenes. You know the story. He gets swallowed up by a fish. So sometimes God’s will is inspired and we hear it if you’re in the habit of asking the Lord, what is your will?
Other times we’re totally oblivious or we’re in a rebellion and then the will of God just collides into us. It just happens to us. God intervenes in Jonah’s life. He’s disobeying God. So God intervenes. The will of God invades into Jonah’s rebellion.
The same thing for Joseph. Joseph didn’t wake up and say, I want to be the object of jealousy among my brothers. I want to be sold into slavery. I want to suffer like that. The will of God just invaded his life.
So I don’t know how it’s going to be for each of us. But I know we need to ask the question, what do you want to do for my life? And God, because He’s gracious, He will get our attention one way or the other. Either we will ask Him and He will tell us. Or you may not ask Him and then He may just intervene. He may just invade your life. He may just collide upon your life and the will of God may unfold whether we like it or not. And hopefully we are on the side of, we want to cooperate with Him.
So when it comes to the will of God that He inspires, I want to speak to the young people. You’re not too young to start asking, Father, what do you want to do with my life? You’re not too young. Next week is Easter. If anyone wants to receive Christ as their personal Savior and Lord and you want to get baptized, we will go to the ocean next week.
No one here is too young to start asking, Lord, what do you have for my life? It’s not our choice what we want to do with our lives. I didn’t grow up saying I want to be a pastor. I never grew up with that. I’m the shyest kid in the classroom. Public speaking is my biggest fear and I’m perfectly happy in the back row of a church.
Why am I here? It’s not by choice, not by choice. So we want to surrender our lives. And so from a young age we ask the Lord, what do you want to do with my life? And you want to be able to discern that. But then beyond that, like for a season, what are You doing in this season? We want to discern that as well because there are busy seasons, there are ministry seasons, there are quiet seasons, there are raising family seasons, there’s all kinds of seasons, times to prepare before we actually do the work that you’ve been preparing for.
We’re all in different places and we all are in different seasons, but you want to discern the lifelong goals. You also want to discern the seasonal goals. And I think I understand the life goal for myself. I think I understand the seasons pretty well for the most part. But the last step would be daily goals. Lord, what is your will for me today?
Lord, what is Your will for my life? Lord, what is Your will for me in this season? And Lord, what is Your will for me today? These are the kinds of questions you want to ask the Lord.
And like Jesus, when you actually hear from the Lord, the assignment likely will not be something you would choose for yourself. Jesus did not in this moment. He did not want to die on a cross because of the shame, because of the suffering, because for the first time in all of eternity, the Father would have to turn His back on the Son. Jesus would be forsaken by God for the first time. Jesus didn’t want to go through all that. The wrath of God being poured out upon Him, Him descending to the depths of Hades and hell itself so that we don’t have to go there. He went through all of that.
He did not want to though. You have to see it from the text. And so there are things that the Lord will ask us to do and we would not choose them for ourselves. But in the end, we must go this direction because that’s where Jesus is. Jesus says, deny yourself, take up a cross, and it’s your unique cross, and then He says, follow me.
At the end of this cross bearing life where we discern the Father’s will for us in terms of our lives, in terms of the seasons, in terms of the daily goals, Jesus will be there with us. And that’s where our joy comes from. That’s where our satisfaction comes from. As long as Jesus is there, like Daniel’s three friends, they followed all the way. Did they choose the fiery furnace? No, but they followed and Jesus was there. Did Daniel choose the lion’s den? No, he followed and Jesus was there. And so that’s the reward.
Jesus is there. He’s saying to the disciples, just sit here, stay here, remain here, watch with me, connect with me. Let me introduce you to the Father. Ask the Father, what is your will, Father? And let the Father inspire us about His will for us and it’s different for each person. And then in the meantime, as we do this, as we overcome our flesh, as our spirit becomes more and more willing, we begin overcoming temptation.
We start sinning less and less. We live a righteous life, not because we’re so great, but because we’re learning the secret of prayer, extended prayer.
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, thank You for allowing Your Son to walk this earth so that we know what is possible in the Christian life. Jesus is not only our Lord, He’s also our model and our example. And we see how He prayed hour upon hour, probably three hours this night.
And your invitation to all of us is to find our secret place, to sit there, to remain there, to watch with Jesus, to connect with Jesus, to abide with Jesus, just surrendering our lives, not saying much, just being in Your Presence, connecting fellowshipping.
Lord, you also invite us to watch and pray for ourselves so that we overcome temptation. Father, we confess our flesh is weak, our spirit at times is even unwilling. We pray for a willing spirit, we pray for Your help to overcome our flesh through disciplined living.
Father, not our will, but your will be done. That was Jesus’s conclusion at the Prayer at Gethsemane. Not His will, not His way. But Father, Your will be done.
Father, forgive us for being self-centered, for just wanting to do things our way, according to our timing, for complaining, for being impatient. We need to be remolded, reshaped through extended time in Your Presence. We put down our will, and we want to discern Your will.
Thank you, Jesus, that You, for the joy that was set before You, for the sakes of Your Church, for all the brothers and sisters gathered here and around the world. Thank you, Lord, for the joy of the bride of Christ, the family of God. Lord, you did it for us. You endured all of this for us.
Thank you, Lord. We owe You everything. We owe You our gratitude. We owe You our lives. We owe You every season. We owe You every daily decision. Our lives are Yours, Lord. We dedicate and surrender again to You.
On this Passion Week, Lord, help us to remember all the details of Your suffering, Your passion, Your Body that was bruised, beaten, pierced, broken, Your Blood that was shed, not only on the cross, but even before the cross, all the blood shed.
Lord, you did it because of our sins. Thank You, Lord, that through the blood of Jesus we’re forgiven. Thank you that through Your wounds we’re healed. We pray that You would minister to us, that You meet us at this time as we close this service and as we partake in Your Lord’s Supper.
Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen