"Then He said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation" (Luke 22:46).
Christ has celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples. That is the supper He has longed to eat with them before He suffers (Luke 22:15). He has predicted both Judas' betrayal as well as Peter's denial. He has attempted to prepare them for what is coming by encouraging them now to take a money bag, a knapsack and a sword.
He arrives at the Mount of Olives -- as He was accustomed -- and His disciples came with Him. He admonishes them to pray, to pray that they not enter into temptation. He left them to go further and to pray alone: "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."
The Lukan account says that an angel appears to strengthen Him. Christ continues in agonizing prayer. When he gets up from His praying He comes back to His disciples and He finds them "sleeping from sorrow." The NIV says they were "exhausted from sorrow."
I've never really paid close attention to that phrase "exhausted from sorrow." But it makes sense. It changes my thinking from them just being sleepy to realizing that they were tired from the overwhelming realities with which they had just become acquainted. Exhaused that one among them was going to betray their Lord. Exhausted that the man in whom they had high hopes was determined to suffer at the hands of the chief priests and scribes and be killed rather than become king and let them hold a coveted cabinet post. Exhausted that their Lord was expecting Peter to fail Him and deny Him. Exhausted . . . or stressed out!
I am convinced of something. Stress is nothing to be played with. There are times when the weight of situations bears down so heavy upon us that we are just exhausted to the point of apparent paralyzation. We know what we need to do, but we are just so emotionally drained that we feel we can't do it.
And Christ comes along and says, that's not the proper response. When you are exhaused from sorrow, what you need to do is "Get up and pray!" That's what Jesus said (NLT). Get up and pray! I know you're overcome to the point of retreat. I know you're so through that you just want to crawl under the covers and sleep it off. But Jesus says something that is quite instructive. Get up AND PRAY otherwise temptation will overpower you.
You can get so ground down by stress, that you are left defenseless when temptation assails. That's when the devil likes to get us. When you're beat down by folk scandalizing your name. Beat down with heavy responsibilities. Beat down trying to meet other people's unrealistic expectations until you find yourself too tired to have a meaningful devotional time. Sometimes the stresses of life will make it difficult for you to even focus in prayer.
But this is such a spiritually dangerous place in which to find yourself. That is, stressed out and spiritually disconnected. When life gets stressful, when responsibilities are heavy, that's the time when you absolutely MUST find your way into the Garden of Prayer. Why? Because you need Resources that you do not have! You need wisdom from above when your own mind is clouded by competing demands.
That's why Christ still comes along and says, "Get up and pray!" That's what Christ did and the Scriptures testify that an angel came along to strengthen Him (verse 43). I believe we are privileged to have the same experience if we will but persevere in prayer.
I receive that Word today.