During the Last Supper, Jesus sat with his twelve disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, James, Judas, Jude, and Simon. Before they began to eat the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of Jesus’ body and blood, Jesus mentioned that one of his disciples would betray him. Both Jesus and Judas knew that Judas was the betrayer, but Judas persisted as though he were not. Prior to the Last Supper, Judas had approached the church authorities with an offer that if they were to give him money, he would betray Jesus.
After Jesus recognized Judas’ betrayal, Judas left the room and the remaining began to eat. When they had finished, they sung a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives where Jesus predicts the desertion of the disciples. He, then, asks the disciples to sit – with the exception of Peter, James, and John – while he goes off to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. After Jesus had prayed in sorrow the first time, he found Peter, James and John asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?” Jesus instructed them to watch and listen, and went off to pray again, only to find them back asleep, in which he told them to rise because his betrayer was at hand.
On Sunday, June 8, 2019, Pastor Smith preached a message surrounding the events that occurred in Matthew 26, magnifying verses 36 through 41. Matthew 26:36-41 reads as follows:
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
From the five verses above, Pastor Smith pointed out the significance of having an inner circle within your circle. Out of the twelve disciples, Jesus chose Peter, James, and John to watch and pray with Him. It is important to note that it wasn’t about who Jesus favored the most, but rather about who can carry the weight, or the pain and sorrow, Jesus was feeling. Some people can only carry your weight for a short amount of time, while others can carry it until they see you through it.
While there are certain life experiences that you may be strong enough and able to withstand with the assistance of your inner circle, there are also some life experiences that we just cannot handle ourselves. But, when in doubt, pray it out. What we can’t handle ourselves, the Holy Ghost can. It is important that we are true and fair, though. As Pastor Smith stated, we cannot give God five seconds of our day and expect Him to move on our behalf. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are instructed to pray without ceasing, and this doesn’t mean nonstop, but constantly recurring.
SIDE NOTE: Praying and asking God to give us our daily bread every morning and/or asking the Lord to keep or take our soul before we sleep, is not enough. God expects you to speak to Him like you speak to your friends, family, husband, wife, etc.
The more we talk to God, the more empowered and stronger we are. However, this – prayer – requires surrender, discipline, and adjustment. As Pastor also stated, there is no excuse for not praying, and even if you don’t know how to there are books and internet resources that will help you out. But, there is no need to over complicate it. Praying is simply just talking to God. If you feel as though you are or you will struggle with extending your prayer time, here are some of Pastor’s quick tips:
1. Start slow – it is a process. Begin with 15 minutes a day, and gradually increase the time 1-5 minutes a day.
2. Pray in the morning, you are more alert. It’s harder to pray at night when we have already went to work, school, etc. because all you want to do is come home and relax. Sacrifice some sleep, go to bed earlier, wake up earlier and pray before you begin your day.
3. Listen. While it is important to praise, give thanks, repent, and speak to God, take a moment and be still. God cannot respond if you are doing all the talking. Be mindful and open to receiving what He has to say.
4. Be creative. We all have our own, personal relationship with God. Make your prayer time special by singing, writing, or even drawing. Go for a walk in the park and pray, pray in your car, pray in the shower. It doesn’t matter what you do, just set apart a special place and time for you and God.