Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Long years ago while serving as pastor at the Perry Church, I invited my congregation to rise at 5 o'clock each Sunday morning to pray specifically for our worship services. While there are always two or three folks who will commit to most any prayer program offered, I really did not expect much of a response to this early Sunday morning prayer experiment. There were too many good reasons not to do it! Much to my surprise twenty people responded and for the next two years there were always at least twenty of us rising early and praying from our homes for the church and its worship. For me it was a powerful time of learning new things about prayer, but I must also confess there were some Sunday mornings when sleep overcame my heart wanting to pray. When I woke up I always verbalized my weakness by thinking, "Well, at least I was in the right place trying to do the right thing."
After reading about sleeping disciples, I am not sure my excuse was acceptable to Jesus. The disciples who accompanied Jesus to the Mt of Olives had learned that Jesus went there to pray. Before He began, He strongly urged them to pray. "Pray that you may not come into the time of testing," He told them. (Luke 22:41) And later when He came back to the place He left them to pray, He woke them and again said, "...Get up and pray..." There was an urgency about the moment. His own praying had brought Him to an awareness that the time was at hand. Danger was near. Temptation was near. The evil one was near. The struggle with the evil one was about to break out in the open for all to see. Danger was about. Those sleeping disciples could be swept away by it. Prayer was their only protection.
Sadly, we still sleep. If we do not fall into an unconscious snoring state, we pray in such monotonous mundane ways that God could go to sleep, wake up after His rest, and it would be like not missing a word. Too often our prayer are predictable and powerless. They are hardly the prayers that press against heaven's gate. Yet, it is our best protection against the one who is as much our adversary as he was the adversary of Jesus that final Thursday long ago. If we would only listen, we would surely hear Him saying to us, "Get up and pray."