“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” – Matthew 26:41
My stepfather considered himself to be a “tree surgeon.” He was very good at topping and pruning tall trees, and when he would come to visit our family, he enjoyed working in our roses and helping with the landscaping. Once, he even worked on a tree in one of our neighbor’s yards. It was the house across the street from us, and at the edge of his property was a large, tall oak tree. My stepfather decided that tree was badly in need of surgery, so he offered the man a good price to work on the tree, and was accepted.
The night before the project was to begin, there was a service at church. As was his custom, my stepfather went down to pray after the service. He told us later that while trying to pray, all he could think about was what he should do in repairing the tree: what limbs he should remove, where to make the cuts, where to tie the ropes in order to make sure the limb landed properly, and every move he should make. The tree job was handled beautifully, but the prayer meeting was ruined!
Probably most of us have been through a similar situation of having a prayer meeting hindered by pressing thoughts. There might be something in our lives causing us to worry, get excited, be upset or even happy, and if we allow it, those emotions will take over a prayer meeting. Today’s focus verse is from an account when Jesus’ own disciples experienced a hindrance to prayer, at a time when Jesus needed them to watch and pray with Him the most. Scripture tells us that they went to sleep, “for their eyes were heavy.”
As humans, we have some physical limitations that we cannot get rid of. The devil is aware of these weaknesses and he would like to use them against us as much as possible. If he cannot put us to sleep, he will try to cause us to think of anything other than our prayer. He may bring interruptions. He may attempt to delay us from even beginning our prayer time.
We must be aware of these pitfalls, and make every effort to “watch and pray.” If pressing thoughts and emotions are intruding, give them to the Lord and ask Him to give you peace about the matter. If sleepiness is a problem, change your schedule so you can get more sleep or choose a time to pray when you are most alert. Make your prayer time a priority and determine that you will not allow interruptions to get in the way.
Prayer is vital to maintaining a close relationship with the Lord, and if we determine to “watch and pray,” the Lord will help us and give us victory every time.