Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane in great agony. He’s headed to the cross and the burden is so great that Scripture says He is sweating drops of blood. In this moment of great suffering he leaves a golden nugget of truth with the disciples. Keep watching, keep praying, so you can defeat the flesh. Keep doing it. Stay vigilant. Stay alert. Beware that you are susceptible to failure. Recognize your weakness. Call on God in prayer and allow His wisdom and discernment to guide you. He tells them to beware of the flesh in prayer. With this in mind, I believe there are three major tendencies we must defeat in prayer.
A lack of prayer is spiritual laziness. Laziness is not necessarily inactivity; it is failing to do the things that matter most. Laziness is irresponsibility. You can be busy and still be lazy. This is the spiritual life of some Christians. Some are busy but accomplish very little of eternal value because they are lazy in the Word and in prayer. We must fight laziness.
Distractions also go along with this. An effective prayer life is an undistracted prayer life. When you get alone with God in prayer do it privately and without distraction. Get up early and pray. Stay up late and pray. Find a quiet place in the house and seek Him. Occasionally find a park, a hiking trail, a campground, or another outdoor location where you can just talk with the Lord privately as you take in His creation. Don’t allow your schedule, your phone, the internet, or anything else to pull you away from the Lord.
Proverbs 19:15 says, “an idle man will suffer hunger.” J.C. Ryle once said,
“Idleness is the devil’s best friend. It is the surest way to give him an opportunity of doing us some harm. An idle mind is like an open door, and if Satan does not come through it himself, it is certain he will throw something in to arouse bad thoughts in us.”
Matthew Henry was quoted as saying, “Idleness gives great advantage to the tempter. Standing waters gather filth.” When we allow our minds to become stagnant, the scum of this world will accumulate. An effective prayer life comes from a mind full of the Word of God and the things of God. When in prayer don’t be idle. Listen, but do so actively. Concentrate fully on God. Meditate on and pray the Word of God. Ask questions of the Lord, inquire of Him, and listen intently for the answer. A mind filled with the Word and the things of God is a mind ready to pray victoriously and live obediently.
Listlessness is indifference. It’s a lack of passion or enthusiasm. Through the trials of life we can get jaded in prayer. As people hurt or disappoint us it is easy to become lethargic spiritually. This is why it is so important to trust in the Lord and not in man. We must set our eyes on Christ.
Prayer is a race, a marathon with a clear goal in mind. We want God to do something in us and through us as we pray. We must lay aside sin, but also the encumbrances, those small things that trip us up. Don’t allow the circumstances of life or disappointments to steal your enthusiasm for God. Keep your eyes on Jesus! An indifferent prayer life makes no difference for God. If you sense an attitude today of indifference cry out to God for a fresh wind of His Spirit and passion to come over you. Don’t dare leave your prayer time until you have been filled with the wind of God’s Spirit for the day!
Beware. Our salvation is rock solid, founded in Christ’s work on the cross. However, our daily walk with Him is fragile. Our fellowship with God can be easily broken by laziness, idleness, and listlessness. Child of God recognize your weakness. In us there exists no good thing apart from Christ. Let’s keep watching and praying that we do not enter into temptation.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, my spirit is willing but my flesh is so weak. Apart from you I am helpless and hopeless, but I also know that Your grace is sufficient. Fill me with Your Spirit today and help me defeat laziness, idleness, and listlessness in my spiritual life. Thank you Jesus, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE DAY:
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”