"The sleep of the disciples"
TO CHEW ON: "'Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The Spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.'" Mark 14:37-38
Jesus' first request that His inner circle stay awake and watch while He has it out with His Father seems rooted in His need for their spiritual support of Him (Mark 14:34). His second request implies they needed to watch and pray for their own sakes, "...lest you enter into temptation."
Bible writers link sleep with a dangerous spiritual state in other places.
- Isaiah talks about sleeping watchmen - Isaiah 56:10.
- Jesus speaks of the master of the house returning to find His servants and doorkeeper asleep, implying that there will be trouble for them if this happens - Mark 13:35-36.
- Paul warns of the "spirit of stupor" (Romans 11:8) and advises his readers to "awake out of sleep" to become aware of how how time and events are progressing (Romans 13:11). Again, he implores the Thessalonians, "Therefore let us not sleep as others do but let us watch and be sober" - 1 Thessalonians 5:6.
I have a lot of empathy for these sleepy disciples. I have been there—physically falling asleep when I meant to pray. However, this passage alerts me to the even more dangerous possibility of being asleep spiritually, even though I may be awake physically.
How easy it is in our noisy world to take a spiritual nap while we are preoccupied with many things—family matters, the state of our finances, world events, entertainment, the need to work harder and harder, information and stimuli that bombard us through our electronic tools and gadgets. Then, because of our lack of alertness and prayer, we become ripe for temptation's picking.
PRAYER: Dear God, I confess that I am often in a spiritual stupor. Please help me to stay awake and prayerful as I view all of life through a spiritual lens. Amen.
MORE: Twila Paris - Watch and Pray