Matthew 26:40-41 (MSG)
When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”
Jesus is talking to me this Monday morning. It is like this every Monday morning as I fight my way out of the bed and into His Presence. Don’t get me wrong. I love my time with the Lord each morning. It is essential to me getting through the day. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed or how much sleep I get, the alarm on Monday must work much harder than any other day of the week to haul my sorry carcass out of the rack. When I read this verse this morning, I had to laugh a little as though the Lord was speaking directly to me. Jesus was getting ready for the Cross. He asked His Disciples to keep watch and pray as He went to the Father for final instructions and the encouragement His Humanity must have needed. When the Lord came back and found them facedown sleeping rather than interceding he said, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert. Be in prayer so ‘you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger.’” How did this go from being about Jesus and become about me?
During our little youth service out in the woods, the pastor spoke about the persistent widow. Her message about remaining faithful to our prayer life. Not giving up on those things that we are praying for in our life, the things that God lays on our heart and mind without relief. The people who keep popping up. The situations that need supernatural solutions. The “things” that do not give us rest. These are the very things that are to be carried to His Presence each day. Not because God doesn’t know what we need or is not working on our behalf, but to remind us of the faith we have in Him and the confident hope that keeps us waiting for His Answer. I will be the first to admit that there are some things I have stopped praying for. Things that need resolution but because there is a lack of change or hint of progress have gotten left behind. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty as charged.
James 1:12-15 (MSG)
Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.
Prayer is pivotal to our relationship with God. It is a connection to Jesus Christ as we trust Him to make our way straight through this life. We must daily make an effort to keep our bond to the Lord strong and intact to overcome the temptation to give up or give in. How does prayer stop temptation? It doesn’t. We will be tempted. Maybe the things that used to tempt you among the “seven or more deadly sins” no longer challenge you. Perhaps self-control has kicked in and you no longer are pulled in certain rebellious directions. Be alert! Religion has its own ugly temptations that can manifest in the believer. The fight we are in is to remain completely and totally dependent on Jesus Christ which means taking our cares, worries, burdens and problems directly to the Lord in prayer before we try to overcome, solve, fix or eliminate them ourselves. God never ever will try to trip us up but let’s face it so many times we are legends in our own minds and try to take care of the little things ourselves.
“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (I Corinthians 10:13) There is no test or temptation that comes our way that is new. All we need to remember is that God will never ever let me down. If I can find it in His Word, it can be a reality in my life by faith. Faith puts all my confidence in the Lord removing it from me. My fickle heart and wavering mind needs to be settled once and for all. God’s Word establishes realistic expectations for believers. When we take His Word and mold our prayer life around it – all things go from impossible to possible if we remain on the foundation of faith presented by Jesus Christ. The biggest threat to my blessings and prosperity of my soul are me. My inability to remain faithful. This must be my focus. God is always faithful. I am the one who is constantly tempted to leave the foundation of faith and confident hope that He has given me.
I Peter 5:8-11 (MSG)
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
Am I alert today? Right now…not so much. Still a little groggy and trying to wake up – but my spirit is soaring right now as I realize I cannot for a single moment stop checking the perimeters of my faith and tugging on the anchor of hope that I have. I must constantly live on high alert. The enemy is seeking those who give up, back down or can be caught off guard. He is checking the doors and windows of each life looking for access. If he can just get a finger or foot inside, watch out for then he can quickly take over. The enemy knows our weakness as evidenced in our complaints and grumblings. The constant murmurings of dissatisfaction, discontentment and overall dislike of our new life in Christ leaves footholds that he will find. Maybe you are thinking that is not your intent when you are telling others about your problems. Well, the enemy was listening. Like posting a vacation of Facebook, it tells the thief of faith and robber of joy exactly where we are week because we have not turned our problem over to the Lord. It is an access point for temptation. He will offer compromises, substitutions or just take you out completely if given the chance. Prayer allows us to carry each and every weakness to the Lord. He gives us His Strength. Stop telling everyone else how bad you have it. Don’t tweet on impulse but praise outwardly that God is working out every detail of your life for good! Pray about it. Stop talking about it.
Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
There have been times in my life when I have held tightly to the Word of God. Tried to remain faithful and still prayed God I just don’t understand. I cannot see what you are doing. I cannot feel the release. I am tired of hanging on. Somehow I did though. It is the Holy Spirit. Jesus knows our weaknesses. He bore the brunt of them on the Cross. All the times that we would try to be faithful and fail miserably. He has already paid the price and offered us grace that is sufficient. When I don’t think I wait anymore, I pray. When I am losing confidence, I pray. Even when I have no words, I pray. Just sitting silently in His Presence with the thought, God this is all you. I cannot do anything here. I have tried. So I am just going to sit here until you do something… He always does more than I could think or ask ESPECIALLY when I have tried everything else and come up short. Take a step back from your prayer closet for a moment to a God view of your life. See you cannot see what He is doing or how He is doing it – you have just been promised that He is. It is more than you could “think” or even “ask” for so what makes us think in our weak faith, wavering hope and human weakness that we could ever comprehend it until it is here? I do the same thing. When I cannot see Him, hear Him or feel Him moving and doing what I have asked, I consider not asking anymore. If I can find it in His Word, I just have to wait on it. If He placed the desire in my heart, and confirmed it with His Spirit then it is mine if I will just wait. It will always be better than I perceived if I refuse to compromise or accept a substitution. This will require waiting. Waiting on the Word. Waiting in the Spirit. Waiting until He comes. Prayer keeps me company in the waiting.
I Thessalonians 5:17-18 (MSG)
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
Prayer changes my perception from my personal vantage point to God’s Perspective. I find that when I become frustrated and want to give up that in prayer He fills my waiting and watching tank back up. I am guilty of trying to leave the watchtower. To make my own way to relieve the pressure. Or try to leave something behind rather than accept the painfulness of the process. It is my nature as a human being. As I develop strength of character as a Child of God, it will require endless hours of prayer built on one conversation at a time. Tests and trials are required to prove my faith is genuine. I have a helper who will afford grace that is more than enough to help me through each one. God has a plan for me that is filled with hope. I just have to seek Him wholeheartedly to have it – body, mind and spirit. Prayer helps pull everyone together for a huddle. It is a time of conversation that doesn’t always require me facilitating. When I don’t have anything to say, but still dare come – the Lord will speak to me. I am filled with inexpressible joy when He does. Praying all the time is easy when you believe that He is listening and ready to respond. His Word allows me to always be thankful because faith tells me He is working it out and hope keeps me there until He comes. This is the way God wants us to live. Carefree and without a single burden. This is only possible when we pray and take all of our worries and concerns to the Lord. I didn’t want to get up early today. My body begged to stay in bed. But when I get into His Presence and He speaks to me – I am ready for the day. Some days I run to the Lord, others I crawl but as long as I come everything will be better than okay!
Philippians 4:4-7 (MSG)
Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.