1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
This verse has been in my heart pretty much everyday for the past couple of weeks, and it means what it says. Pray without ceasing. It's a command, not a suggestion. I have been endeavoring to do as this verse says, to pray without ceasing, the best I can. So if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, there’s your answer. But sometimes it’s not the easiest thing to just start praying. Sometimes I just don’t feel like praying. Sometimes I don’t know what to pray. But whenever I don't feel like praying, I go and read from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John when Jesus is the garden of Gethsemane.
Here are the verses from Matthew.
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
I very much understand the statement, “...the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” My flesh being weak is saying, “I don’t feel like praying.” I know I need to be praying but I just don’t feel like it. Well guess what? Feelings have got nothing to do with it. So I read these verses and I see the strength of Jesus. He knew where he was going after the garden, he was going to the cross. He prayed to the Father that if it was possible to not make him to go to the cross, nevertheless, not what I want, but what you want, Father. Man, I read that, and see the strength of Jesus, and that Jesus was going to die, and I don’t feel like praying? Pretty humbling, if you ask me. Jesus knew he was going to the cross to die, yet he still prayed that the Father’s will be done. He knew he was going to the cross, and then he finds his disciples asleep and says to Peter, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” In verse 38 he tells them to watch with him, and he basically says “I’m going to the cross to fulfill the Father’s will, and die, and you couldn’t even stay awake for one hour and pray?”
I also understand the "...pray, that ye enter not into temptation" part as well, from verse 41. A lot of times I understand how those disciples felt. Instead of praying I just want to take a nap, and go to sleep because the oppression is so heavy. That’s why the flesh is weak. But don’t give into that temptation of taking a nap! How would you feel if you were in Peter’s shoes, and you knew that Jesus was going to die on the cross, and he comes and finds you asleep and says “Couldn’t you stay awake for just one hour and pray?” Probably ashamed, at least I would. These scriptures are there for us to learn from. You don’t have to feel ashamed, you don’t have to fall into temptation. How? You pray, even when you don’t feel like praying.
Here is the same account from the book of Luke. It gives more detail as to what Jesus went through as he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane.
39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
That word "agony" in verse 44 is defined in Strong's Concordance as "a struggle for victory." One key word in that same verse is MORE earnestly. When things got hard, when he was in a struggle he didn't just quit and give up. He prayed MORE earnestly or intensely. I mentioned this above, but Jesus knew he was going to the cross next, and he still prayed this way. Not only was he just going to die, he was going to die for me, in my place. He was going to die for you, in your place. He went through this agony for you, to prepare himself for what was coming next. Oh the love that God has toward us. To send his only Son to die for us, and carry our sins on his own body, and be buried and on the third day rise again!
You know, I’ve gotten to really love the song I sing, “Walk With Me.” I’ve always liked it because it’s based on 1 John 2:6 “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” We are to walk as Jesus walked. But part of the chorus of this song goes, “Let me learn to pray, like he prayed. In the garden of Gethsemane.” Part of walking like Jesus, is praying. When I got a deeper understanding of those verses above in Matthew and Luke, and seeing how Jesus prayed in the garden, and then listened to the words of this song, all I could say was, “Wow.” I have no words to describe the impact on me of what Jesus really went through and prayed through in the garden. But now this song is at the top of the charts for me as far as what it means to me. I’m still learning to pray like he prayed, and to walk like he walked. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely possible. And do you know why it's possible? Because Jesus is a man just like you and me, but that's a topic for another blog post.
You can listen and watch me minister the song "Walk With Me" here:
I know sometimes I just need a little kick in the rear to get going to start praying, and reading these passages of how Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane will usually do the trick! Really consider what those verses are saying, and God will give you understanding. It has worked for me several times to read those verses and I'm confident it will provide the same kick in the rear for you as well, for whenever you don't feel like praying!
P.S. - You can download the audio to "Walk With Me," FOR FREE, at the following website: