Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation:… – Matt. 26:41 KJV
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Jesus Christ on his way to the cross had stopped at Gethsemane to pray. Whilst he told the other disciples to wait he proceeded further with Peter, James and John. He then went a little bit further to pray after advising the three of them to pray whilst he was going ahead to do same. His focus in prayer was to plead that God’s Will be done in his life irrespective of the temptation he may be having to do otherwise – Matt. 26:39-45.
However, on his return, he found them sleeping and admonished them in their inability to join him in prayer for just an hour. His additional advise to them is the scripture for today’s devotion. His advise at this point was not to his benefit but to their own benefit if they took it. They were to watch and pray to avoid Temptation.
Temptation being a strong desire to do something especially a wrong or an unwise one is something that could happen to anyone, after all, he was going through one at that moment in time. The sad part of this act is that it always ends up in regrets, if one falls into it as major damages would have occurred as a result of yielding to such desires.
He knows that it is not about the spiritual depth of a person or is closeness to God after all, his disciples had both advantages by being with him. Yielding to temptation remains something that requires a supernatural ability as strong desires seem to operate at a level higher than the ability of he that is being tempted. With regards to temptation, the challenge is not just desire as there is nothing wrong with having desire. The challenge is the aptness of the desire. In the biblical book of James, we are informed that temptation is about those evil desires that entice us and drag us away from God’s plans for our lives – Jms. 1:14. They are evil because they are not founded on the Will of God and that is why the Christian needs to seek God’s support to overcome them.
Jesus Christ in today’s scripture reveals that we can overcome this huge challenge to Christian life by being watchful and prayerful. What a great revelation that is of immense advantage in saving us from ourselves. This is because temptation is one of the major reasons Christians give for transgressions and regrets in life. It is not unusual to hear Christians after being caught in a transgression say “I was tempted”. Many lives are also in turmoil today because of the effect of actions that are linked to temptation. This is obviously an act that begins with man himself without the involvement of the devil or any enemy whatsoever.
In that advise given to avoid temptation, two words stand out, “watch”and “pray”.
To watch will mean to observe something with attention over a period of time. To exercise care, caution or restraint about something before reacting. Jesus in advising Christians to watch suggests that they should not be too hasty about making their decisions or taking their options. There is the need for them to process all proposed acts very well, studying the situation deeply over a period of time. It does not matter how long it takes to arrive at a decision but it must be a decision that is a product of proper processing.
They need to be equally cautious, careful and apply restraint in implementing such supposedly well processed decisions. No matter how much information was available during the processing, they also need to know that there could still be points that are not revealed or are unknown and so there will be the need to seek spiritual perspective on the same issue . Seeking this perspective will have to come through prayer and knowing fully well that prayer is a dialogue and not a monologue, Christians need to wait on the Lord for a response to prayer before activating the decision.
All these become necessary because there is hardly any difference between the act of testing by God that leads to divine success and the temptation that is enabled by the devil that results in regrets.
Jesus knows that decisions taking on the basis of this two pillars can never produce regret. Most times, the follow up excuse for one who is regretting an action is always that he/she would have faired better if they were more careful, cautious or had shown more restraint in acting out the desire induced thoughts.
Following the advise of Jesus Christ as stated above will in no doubt save you from all the setbacks that regretted actions produce. They will also ensure that you can exploit all those positive opportunities that are covered in doubts and suspicions while avoiding those temptations that present an external picture of success but is full of negatives and regrets.
May God grant us the ability to watch and pray effectively in Jesus name. Amen.