Why Did Jesus Ask Us To Watch and Pray?
Have you ever wondered why God, if He is all-powerful and all-knowing and truly the God of the universe, wants or needs us to pray? Have you ever thought about why Jesus, right before His crucifixion asked the disciples to pray for him? Why did He say “Watch and Pray”?
Recently I have been meditating and thinking about my prayer life and the prayer life of Christians in general and I am coming to the conclusion that the reason that Christian pray and the reason that God wants us to pray are not always the same thing.
The watch and pray Bible verse
Matt. 26:41 NLT
Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
Now at first glance, we always look at the failings of the disciples. They were the ones that fell asleep when Jesus asked them to watch and pray. However, I looked at that passage and asked myself this question.
Why did Jesus want them to pray so badly?
Why was it so imperative that they pray?
I am not an expert even though I have been a believer now for 32 years and have a formal theological education. I am a learner, a follower, and a seeker of God but I think maybe there are clues here that will cause us to look at watching and praying in a whole new light.
Why Did Jesus Ask the Disciples To Watch and Pray?
He asked them to watch and pray so they did not give into temptation
Jesus said that they were to watch and pray so they did not give in to temptation. Well, what in the heck was so tempting about being in a Garden waiting for someone to get done praying?
What sins abounded there that made it so dangerous?
When you think about that, you realize that Jesus was talking deeper than the surface level when He was bringing up temptation.
As I see it, there could have been only one temptation that was in play here that would have applied to the situation. It was the temptation to focus on self rather than to focus on the purposes of God. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.
He was attempting to get the disciples to partner with Him in his hour of need by praying for Him but the temptation was for them to focus on their need for sleep.
To me, the question is this. What was the purpose of God in this that it became more important for Jesus to have the disciples watch and pray for Him than it was for them to have slept?
Sleep is not sinning normally and it is a part of the human cycle of life.
As I have thought on this, it has caused me to think of two things that are important questions to ask ourselves as we are also watching and praying.
- Why does God need us to pray in the first place? I mean seriously? If God is God isn’t He able to do what He wants without us praying for it?
- If we are part of God’s divine plan on this earth, then are we praying the way God would have us to pray and the way that accomplishes His divine purpose for this world?
We pray to fight the battle
There is a battle raging on planet earth whether we realize it or not. We may not see it with our 5 senses but we can see it when we look with the eyes of understanding.
The battle between good and evil, between the purposes of God and the purposes of Satan, is still raging. We may know the outcome, and we may know who is going to win, but at the present moment, the battle still rages.
When Jesus came and ultimately paid the price for the victory to come, was very similar to the invasion the allies did at Normandy during WWII. The re-establishment of the rule and reign of God had begun.
However, it does not mean that the war is over. We are still in that war. So the reason we watch and pray is to fight the battle.
We pray for the kingdom of God to come
Do you remember the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus says to pray for God’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done? That kingdom is the rule and reign of Jesus.
So when we pray we are to pray for the rule and reign of Jesus to be established on this earth. That means it is taking back the rule and reign from Satan.
Now we know that the total rule and reign of Jesus will not be established until His return, however we are to fight the battle until that day.
We pray because we are the conduits for God presence to enter the world
God wants and needs us to watch and pray because we are the conduits in which He can establish that rule and reign in this world. We are the connecting points.
Let me put it this way.
It does no good to have the greatest furnace or air conditioner ever made if there are no vents hooked up to it for the air to blow through.
When we pray, we become those vents that the kingdom of God can blow through and be established in the world. When you pray, the manifested presence of God pierces into the darkness of this world and drives away the darkness with the light.
You bring the rule and reign of Jesus into this world.
How Should a Christian Pray?
If you are like me, many times I pray my “want list”. I have a list of prayer requests that I want God to take care of.
Now I don’t think this is bad in and of itself. Our Heavenly Father is concerned about our daily needs and the things that happen in our lives.
However, I am coming to the conclusion that this is not the primary purpose of prayer and as such, should not be our reason to pray.
If what I said in the first point is true, that when we pray we bring the presence of God to this world and establish His kingdom, then the reason a Christian should pray is so that His rule and reign would come and that His will would be done.
So instead of praying for our purposes, including those things that are self-orientated, we should be praying for His purposes and His purpose is establishing His rule and reign.
Now again, please understand. I am not talking about setting up some type of physical theocracy here on earth. I am talking about praying that the rule and reign of Jesus become established in the hearts of men.
The Importance of Watching and Praying
This was the whole crux of the issue going on in the garden. Jesus was about to establish a beachhead on planet earth for His rule and reign to be established on the earth again. He needed the disciples to watch and pray.
Yet as we all know, they failed. They did not understand the importance of what was going on, thus they fell into the temptation of centering on their personal need for sleep.
We as Christians need to watch and pray rather than fall into that same temptation. We need to watch with our spiritual eyes to see what is the purposes God is trying to accomplish, and then align our prayer life to conform to that purpose.
As we do that, then we have the glorious privilege of being the conduit God uses to establish His rule and reign in the hearts and lives of men.
How awesome is that?
I am convinced dear reader, that as the people of God, those that have accepted the rule and reign of God in their lives get their prayer lives back to their original primary purpose, we will once again see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
We will once again see our nations, our cities, and our individual families come into all the blessings that God has in store for us. We will see revival. We will see His kingdom come! So watch and pray!
Now that is something to think about!