Mar. 7, 2012
When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
A few weeks ago, Rick and I went on vacation. We spent a long weekend in the city of Freeport in the Bahamas. As we rode a bus to the hotel, we passed by a Methodist church. I took note because we would be in Freeport on Sunday.
In a brochure, we read that the service was at 10 AM. The church was a little father than we cared to walk. On Saturday, the weather was chilly and windy, which prevented us from swimming in the ocean or one of the hotel pools. We opted to rent a scooter and tour the island. It was a little more to rent the scooter for 24 hours. Then, we had transportation to church.
It was still cool and windy on Sunday morning. We looked like a very large bumblebee as we got on the bright yellow scooter, I wearing a yellow helmet and Rick in a black one. When a gust of wind came up, we just held on. The Bahamas were settled by the English. So, folks drive on the left side of the road. It’s a little confusing when making a right hand turn. We were at the intersection turning right near the Methodist Church when Rick put us in the wrong lane of traffic. Rather than pull back out into traffic, he drove across the church lawn. A man on his way to church asked if we were lost. Rick shared that he was just trying to find a place to park our bad boy transportation.
Worship was an experience! I looked down at my watch as soon as it was over: 1 PM on the dot. We had anticipated a long worship service but this was even a bit longer than expected.
After church, Rick and I shared our impressions. One of his first comments was that he took two naps during the pastoral prayer. He, like the disciples, was not able to stay awake during a time of prayer.
Yep, I’ve also fallen asleep while praying. I’ve fallen asleep at a worship service. There have been times I was so tired and really tried to stay awake and had to fight not to nod off. At times, I was just exhausted and a nap seemed OK.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus finds the disciples napping three times while he prays atGethsemane. Each time, Jesus awakes them and encourages them to stay awake while he goes and prays. Each time, they fall asleep. What do we expect? It was the middle of the night!
I think it would have been impossible for Jesus not to feel very alone. Only he could endure what was to come. Who doesn’t want a friend or two to try and feel your pain? Jesus knew the disciples were going to fall into temptation. He had already predicted it. But it makes it no less painful when it actually happens.
I’m reminded of these words from Romans 8:26: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Thank God when we are too tired, when we lack words, when we’re desperate and not quite sure what to say, it’s OK. The Holy Spirit intervenes for us.
Let us pray: I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord. No tender voice like Thine can peace afford. I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee! O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee. Amen.